Archives for category: research

blackerI watched this brilliant documentary by Molly Dineen, last night and was sad to see more evidence of a child being failed by the system in the UK, but interestingly he was descibed as excelling in a new school in Jamaica. Blacker’s son was in a situation where the school was telling his parents that he wasn’t suited to a school environment, and he had ADHD. Then they took him to Jamaica and suddenly he is an “A” student.

When I started out trying to make a film about home education, I kept hearing over and over again from people who had been totally failed by the school system, and try as I might to keep my sights set on home education I kept being pulled to document how hard it is to get on in school if you are in any way “different”.

It is complicated, as now we know the impact ACE‘s can have on a person’s life, so we can think it all happens at home, but the effects on children in the school system of repeated detrimental treatment makes some children give up learning for life. And that costs a lot, further down the line.

I once got involved in making a short film, which sadly never found funding, to describe exactly how this plays out in the UK. It was called The True Cost, and it explained how the criminal justice system, social care and mental health services are battling to cope with an epidemic of crime, family breakdown, challenging behaviour and mental illness, with bills that reach into the realm of billions – like £70 billion at least (and these are old figures). They then set out to descibe how these costs could be reduced hugely by investing money right at the start of a child’s life, by helping their mothers first, and then their fathers and supporting them to create a family, which they may have no idea of as they havent been modelled it. This costs under £5,000 per family.

It’s an old idea, and one which isn’t popular in parliament, but I can’t understand why. Post-natal depression affects mothers from all social backgrounds, so why should anyone discriminate as to who needs help in the babyhood years? Surely if everyone was supported it would only take a generation to help the percentage of children growing up with secure emotional attachment become the well adjusted adults of the future who help to build the loving communities and societies we need?


What’s the difference between these two brains? – Telegraph.


OK – this is scary, and very important. Whatever you might think about these 2 images, it is clear that there is something fundamental being scientifically proven and illustrated.

I want to try to explain it in the terms it was explained to me, that made such an impact on me and the film I ended up making.

When we are born our brains are not developed to the extent they need to be to function as a social being. This “growing” happens from the moment we are born, through the interaction we receive with our carers, specifically our primary care-giver. Our brains need the love and care of a maternal, or paternal carer to connect and grow. This needs to happen from the moment we are born, or some would say the moment we are conceived.

It’s that simple.

This is what makes us go on to live our lives and determines how we function. By the age of 18 months we have learned a HUGE amount about the world and our brains have formed accordingly. If we haven’t felt love our brain literally doesn’t grow, I imagine it is a little like a flower withering. This is tragic.

As Suzanne Zeedyk has said about the debate surrounding this article :

That debate shows us, once again, that it is one thing for us (as a society) to know this information.  It is another thing to think about what it feels like to know this information.  The debate in response to this article gives a very good sense of how unsettling the information can be.

It has made me want to try to define LOVE in those first few months and years. It has made me want to help people, especially mothers, who may not have felt love, to feel it and therefore start to give it to those around them. How does it feel to be neglected like that? It pains me to even begin to imagine how many people haven’t been shown love by each preceding generation. How do we break the cycle?

And most of all for all those babies out there being born every minute of every day, can we start to do our best to show them what Love is?

‘Forget buying must-have toys, give the kids a box for Christmas’ – Health – News – London Evening Standard.

This is the second article that has come to my attention, and I would really like to hope that it might make an impact on the pockets of parent’s out there. Why not? Give your child a box…in fact a box full of other boxes….you could even colour them in…or paint something on them?!

‘Forget buying must-have toys, give the kids a box for Christmas’ - Health - News - London Evening Standard

Ban under-threes from watching television, says study | Society | The Guardian.

It’s been a long time since I found time to blog, but I am compelled after 3 articles have jumped out at me. This is the first – an article espousing the idea of letting your under-three watch TV. I personally agree, and have done my very best to live a screen-free existence with my little one (who has just turned 3 btw). That has meant he has only a brief idea of the joys of technology, however even though I have tried to limit his exposure he LOVES playing on anyone’s phone and can’t help but be drawn to devices whenever an unsuspecting friend gets theirs out of their pocket! He has also watched an animated film or 2 but seldom enough that he doesn’t bug me about watching one when he is bored, for the moment!

I was interested in one of the comments which tries to say the research doesn’t include the recent phenomenon of apps disguised as fun games but really educational programmes, and therefore he was planning on letting his 12month old free use of his iphone. I was particularly interested in this as I can’t imagine anything more sad than a tiny little person with her head stuck to an iphone. I don’t think he has even considered the tantrums he will have on his hands when she is expected to hand back this “toy”. And here ispeak from experience. Whenever my eldest has been exposed to a device of any kind, getting it back from him can almost always cause a huge tantrum. When I am offered strangers phones on trains to help distract my son in the middle of a “mood swing” I turn them down as it is just prolonging the inevitable, when the kind stranger has to leave the train and wants his/her phone back!

And this is the problem, we think we can quick fix everything – including our child’s introduction to this amazing world we live in full of this amazing technology….all the time forgetting that on an evolutionary level we still have stone age brains and we need to learn how to do things through experience… and real life is not conveyed through a device.

I got my first phone when I was 19. It was a great thing. I have some idea of what life was like without being at the mercy of my phone. I would like to allow my child that same freedom. I don’t think that is unreasonable.