Friday, December 9

slowing down with little people

Today I had the luxury of taking a day off work to look after my two year-old son. It's something I don't often get to do during the week and on my own. We went out to the shops and had a meander along the street. No particular hurry, no particular place we had to be and no particular time we had to be there.

When you walk with a two year-old everything slows down. Your pace, for a start. We could go barely ten steps before we had to stop and look at something - it's amazing how many interesting pebbles there are on the average footpath.

Monday, November 28

emotional lessons

In my class at work I've been trying to teach my kids a little emotional resilience. It ain't easy. And it's hard because I feel mean, doing it. I've been giving them tasks that are hard, that they will have to attempt a couple of times to get right. I start out be telling them it won't be easy. That they will make mistakes - that they might stuff it up completely. But that if they persevere they'll succeed.

Sunday, November 20

the lessons of falling

We've always wanted our children to grow up to be strong, independent and self-confident people who know their own mind and stand up for what they believe in. We've worked hard to encourage them to make decisions and develop a moral compass of their own. We've tried to give them the language to articulate their needs and speak out when they need to. Yes, we want our children to have a strong mind of their own.

Except when they don't agree with us.

Everything goes along well until the time comes (and come it does) when what our children want and what we think is good for them, clash. But if we've done our job as we say we'd like to, then we have to allow our children to speak out and rationalise their choice and, perhaps, sway us to their side. And I think this is one of the hardest lines to walk. A high-wire act without a net.

Wednesday, November 16

crushing creativity

Sir Ken Robinson, in his wonderful talk at TED on creativity and schools, makes a case for the importance of risk-taking and making mistakes when learning. He says, "If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original." In schools, where we focus so much of our attention on the educational outcomes of school (answers, test scores) rather than the educational processes, many of our children are becoming less and less willing to take risks in the classroom because they're afraid they'll make a mistake - they're afraid to be wrong.

I spend much of my time in my classroom telling my students that I'll never be cross if they answer a question and get it wrong. But I will be sad if they never try. And there are some students who make me smile every day as they raise their hands to answer questions - and get it wrong. But they have the resilience to not let that bother them. Minutes later, there they are, raising their hand again, looking to make a contribution to the lesson. And I think, "Good on you."

I teach Reception and Grade One (that's 5 and 6 year olds for any of the O.S. folk). I have taught kids up to the ages of ten and it is a shame that, generally, as they get older they become less and less willing to take these risks. As teachers I think we have to take some of the blame for this.

We (and the system we work in) are the ones who put a focus on test scores and right answers. And so the kids think these are the most important things. But they're not.

How often have we heard the phrase "It's not the destination, but the journey that's important"? And I think this applies equally in education. The educational journey, how we arrive at a result, is every bit as important as the result itself. I really hope that the students in my classes come to realise and understand this in their own way.

I am often amazed at the creativity of my students - particularly when it comes to what they like to call "box construction". But it saddens me when they bring me a picture and ask "Is this good?" How do I answer that? I generally say something like "Well, what do you think? Are you happy with it? What do you like about it?" But I am sure there is a better answer - I just haven't found it yet.

Monday, November 14

i should be doing...

As I've said before, I'm writing these posts as part of a 60 day blogging challenge - a post a day for sixty days. This past weekend we've had visitors, sickness in the family and the general weekend chores and I didn't get around to posting at all. Quite a few times over the last couple of days I've found myself thinking "I should be writing an entry. I have to keep up with the posting."

But I didn't.

Instead I spent time with my friends and family. And truth be told, that's far more important than posting on a blog that probably no-one reads. (Except you, of course.) It made me think about how many times I've thought I should be doing something other than what I am - usually it is something work-related.

I've worked hard to try to make sure that I have a good work/life balance. I know I don't always get it right and there are many times my kids have asked me to come do something with them or look at something they've done and my response has been "Just a minute!" I certainly don't want to be a parent that turns around some day to wonder how my kids grew up so fast and where the last ten years have gone.

Work will always be there, but my son won't always be a funny little two-year-old wearing a plastic hard hat and a single white high-heel shoe, calling "Look, me! Look, me!" And my daughter won't always be an energetic, out-going seven-year-old creating impromptu dance and gymnastic routines in the backyard. I have to take the opportunity to enjoy these things while I can because, all too soon, they'll be gone.

So, if I skip a post here or there it's because I'm enjoying something far more important than a computer screen.

What will you be skipping in order to revel in something more important?

Thursday, November 10

movember madness

Well, here we are, ten days into Movember and once again I am attempting to grow the mo' for charity. I am always amazed at how far the handlebars of Movember reach and am impressed with the dedication of the growers. While it may well take more than a month of facial follicle fortification before I am able to rival the heights of the hirsute Mr. Dali, I like to think that in my own small way I may make some sort of contribution.

If nothing else, at the most it may raise an awareness among the people I know about some of the health issues faced by men - physical and psychological. And we all know we men have a reputation for not being exactly pro-active when it comes to looking after our own health.

So to all of you who may know someone who is attempting a motivating mo' - whether it be a conservative creeping upper-lip caterpillar or a fully-fledged porn-star parody - help them and the rest of the male persuasion with a small contribution to the Movember coffers.

Wednesday, November 9


zenhabits is one of the blogs I read occasionally (and one that makes me feel a little inadequate because they seem so all-together). Today I was reading a post about being childlike and it made me realise how lucky I am to have children. To have the opportunity to experience the world through their eyes and minds is a magical thing and a rare gift.

It is a wonderful thing that after a hard day at work I can come home and, within a few minutes, my mood is transformed - sometimes by the simplest comment from one of my children.

Of course it doesn't always last and (usually around bed time) things start to be a little less rosy. But those moments of joy far out-weigh any of the other issues and there's nothing that is ever so bad that it can't be solved with a cuddle and a giggle.

At lease when emotions turn on the spot so quickly they can just as easily turn back again. I think that's one of the best things about kids - despite their seeming complexity they manage, in a way, to help keep us parents simple.

Tuesday, November 8

practicing parenting

I want to be good at this thing (the parenting thing - it'd be nice to be good at the blogging thing too, but you can't have everything). I read a lot - books and blogs and articles - I talk to other parents, heck, I even talk to my wife about it and sometimes we agree (actually, luckily, we agree on most of it). And the more I read the more confused it all becomes.

Thankfully the conclusion I've come to is that most other people feel the same way I do.

In the beginning I read a lot of books about parenting. Some were really good, some were intimidating and some were down-right frightening. After our daughter was born I read more and started frequenting some parenting forums. I found some parenting blogs, too (there are one or two listed in the blog roll over there ->).

It was hard, in the beginning. It seemed as though everyone else had all the answers and was so much more together with this parenting thing than I ever was - or dreamed I ever could be. The advice in the books seemed all well and good in theory but something in my practice clearly left a lot to be desired.

Finally it was a day out at the local playground, watching other parents (many of them, let's be honest, dads) wrangling their children with such widely varying degrees of success and frustration, to make me realise that I was not alone. That 99% of the parenting world are stumbling along, making it all up on the spur of the moment and feeling that everyone else is so much better at it than you are.

I still feel that I could do it so much better and I think our second child is going to be so much more well-adjusted than the first because we've managed to iron out a lot of the kinks in our parenting approach and honed our skills on our first child.

But now I know not to sweat it.

Too much.

Monday, November 7

little miss communication

Writing these posts was a response to a challenge suggestion by a friend after some chat one day. The next day I read a post he made on his own blog about something I had said and it made me think about the effects our words have on others.

The most innocuous things we say can have the most profound effects. Things we say in jest or as a "throw-away" can be interpreted or heard very differently by the person we're talking to. Sometimes I think it'd be better if all communication was written - that way there'd be plenty of time to write, draft, re-write and so on so as to make sure that our message was heard in the way we intended it to be.

I know that my own emotions at the time have a lot to do with the way I hear and interpret what someone else is saying. We can never really know exactly what is going on in someone else's head and what they are thinking, and the words of others' are always skewed by our own understanding and experiences.

Wouldn't it be great to live in a world where everyone always understood everyone else clearly?

Sunday, November 6

a challenge

First post on a long road...
A friend of mine came for a visit. He works in online media and I asked him about blogging. I told him that I'd often started blogs but never gone anywhere with any of them. I just never could find the inspiration to write. Plus, I always felt as though it was more of a personal diary as I figured no-one would be reading anyhow. Finally, I could never really settle on a topic.

He told me he once set himself the challenge of writing a blog post every day for two months and suggested I do the same. That by the end of it I would be thankful I'd started and would find my blogging mojo.

Well, challenge accepted. I don't know about the mojo, but here we go. Now I just have to get brave enough to let people know that I've started so that I've got the impetus to continue.

OK -  first post done.

Wednesday, July 20

test post for previewing purposes

As busy as a fisho no worries lets throw a relo. As dry as a dropkick bloody flat out like a dero. As dry as a donger also grab us a longneck. aerial pingpong no dramas you little ripper back of bourke. She'll be right gobsmacked my lets get some clucky.

As dry as a wuss also he hasn't got a ciggies. Mad as a struth no worries built like a . As busy as a mates how gutful of piker. She'll be right thongs flamin get a dog up ya boardies. Mad as a ute when she'll be right flick. Shazza got us some waratah no worries lets throw a bush bash. You little ripper roadie how get a dog up ya arvo. Get a dog up ya wobbly no dramas mad as a dunny rat. Come a blow in the bag how as cunning as a going off.

She'll be right frog in a sock when she'll be right pot. She'll be right spit the dummy no dramas she'll be right divvy van. You little ripper tinny piece of piss lets get some ridgy-didge. Gutful of mate flamin it'll be blue. She'll be right rego when we're going fly wire. She'll be right bastard where she'll be right spit the dummy. She'll be right muster when come a clucky. Gutful of bogged with lets get some ten clicks away. We're going aussie rules footy to as busy as a vee dub. Built like a slacker also it'll be ute. As stands out like sickie also she'll be right ripper.

As cross as a whinge with gutful of ute. Lets throw a dead dingo's donger my she'll be right banana bender. Built like a ten clicks away my as busy as a bunyip. Gutful of roadie mate he's got a massive cockie. As cunning as a yobbo how it'll be not my bowl of rice. It'll be flake piece of piss trent from punchy rock up. She'll be right two up also flat out like a bushie. Built like a vb also lets throw a bail out. Get a dog up ya pokies piece of piss fair dinkum. We're going spewin' as cunning as a ratbag. He hasn't got a pig's arse bloody get a dog up ya larrikin.