Insightful Videos about Education: What school says is 'useful'.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Insightful Videos about Education: Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity, Changing the 'System' of School, and more...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Incredibly inspirational, assuring, and eye-opening thoughts on education, the current system of public school and how it is affecting children and our future.

The Stranger in my Living Room - The Better Mom feature

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Stranger in my Living Room came into our house by routine. He wasn’t ever invited, but he just seemed to always be there. It was a way of life – I was used to it. I didn’t really like him or trust him, but I was afraid to kick him out. I was so used to him being there, and everyone else had a Stranger in their Living Room – and their Kitchen, their child’s bedroom, rec room, and so on. Sometimes, he’d keep me company when I was lonely, and I’d giggle at some of the things he’d say. He gave me something to do when I was bored.

But there was a dark side to the Stranger. The Stranger showed my family violence; angry murders, terrible crimes. He screamed profanities often and displayed lust, sexual situations, and glorified and perpetuated greed and materialism. The Stranger desired to tell our children they’re not good enough and manipulate them into buying more ‘stuff’ to measure up. The Stranger mostly supported anti-Christ, anti-moral messages that sank way down deep in the fabric of culture. He sucked my time and energy, shut down my brain, and suggested how I live my life – all while I sit idly by, staring, unable to pull my eyes from him. Yet, there he sat.

Until I kicked him out with a passionate boot only a pregnant Mama with a serious waddle could achieve. Yes, the Stranger in the Living Room was the Television.

Our family has been completely TV-free for almost 7 years. Our home actually has no screens at all on a day-to-day basis. We do have computers, but we hide them away and bring them out only when we need them. My husband and I were both raised in, what I like to call, heavy-use families. (grin) Both our childhood homes had more than 3 TVs each, so, it’s been quite the change for us. I was once on the Drew Marshall radio show talking about my choice to go completely TV-free (I was in my early 20s at the time). Since I’d studied Media all through high school and then gone on to College and graduated with a diploma in Media Communications and Television Production, he laughed and said my entire life was one big Oxymoron. I kind of like it.
When our children were very young, my husband and I did a sort of inventory about many things in our lives.

We asked what we were gaining from Television and what we were forfeiting. As I clicked through the channels one afternoon, I realized how many programs I was either scared of, disagreed with, or felt upset by in some way. I also started looking for programs that I wouldn’t want my children seeing. What I found was over-whelming! Sure, there are a few ‘cute’ shows, but the good ones came with an onslaught of horrible content.

Our top reasons for tossing the TV are listed here. They focus mostly on things like, more time for God and family, keeping negative influences out of our home, and pushing advertising and consumption further from our lives. We also wanted to commit to being more active, spending loads of time outdoors, forming deeper bonds with each other, and keeping our minds active and curious- always seeking ‘the next adventure’. After all, TV does put the brain in a trance-like, hypnotic state, shutting down critical thinking, especially in children. Have you ever noticed the glazed-over expression? It’s no joke.

Once you go TV-free, you can never go back. You don’t miss the screen. You feel liberated in many ways. You start looking at the world differently. You find other things to do in those quiet times (if they come!)… you go for a walk, you play a game, you talk, you read, you study, you organize, you write ideas in your notebook for your next blog post. (ha)

I know most (99% according to stats) people in North America have at least one TV in their homes. I would never criticize a parent for it – ha, I’d lose a lot of friends! Television seems to be a ‘necessary’ evil in the minds of so many people. Like that Stranger in the Living Room. It’s there because it’s always been there, even though so many of us don’t always like it – it remains, out of habit. My passion as a Media Educator isn’t to tell people how to live. (Who am I?) But I do feel incredibly motivated to share the change we’ve seen in our own family as we’ve unplugged more and more.
So, I humbly suggest to other loving parents that they simply question it. Consider it. Ask what they are gaining from having a Television when it comes to their goals for their family’s spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical health. Consider what life might look like without it. Maybe even discuss it as a family. Why not even try a week or two without TV? You might be surprised at what you find.

Dare to Let Them Grow up Slow.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Children are growing too fast, period.  For a while, it was something to scoff at or roll our eyes about.  It seemed pretty innocent at first, with a few brand name companies offering children's lines.  But there's more to the story.

Kids growing up fast is really about the generation gap it leaves behind.  It's the whole "Grease" spoof - kids are crazy and rebellious, parents just don't understand.  It used to start in the teen years.  Not anymore.   Pre-teen pregnancy (yes, PRE-teen) is on the rise, youth depression and alcohol and drug abuse is reported more often than ever in history, and suicide rates are at all-time high among very young tweens and teens.  More and more disconnected families are falling apart.  It's time we really took a critical look at how the media and pop-culture is affecting our kids when it comes to growing up.  Young children are trying to live 'teen' lives, parents are allowing it, and we're paying the price. 

Kid Culture is the new coin phrase.  It's all about creating your image through the consumption of a multitude of 'stuff' starting in the baby years with brands marketing clothing and name-brand products to infants and toddlers via their parents.

These days, innocent children are being pushed into a category the marketing world coined "tweens" as young as age eight. 

EIGHT.    What many parents don't understand is, the whole concept of 'tween' culture bubbled out of the greed of several business execs.  Looking at trends in teen spending on things like clothing, accessories, and electronics, the 'big guys' figured they could make a lot more money if they got young kids hooked on consumerism at an earlier age.  About a decade ago, we saw the 'tween' market explode for the typical 12-13 year olds.  But that wasn't good enough.

Companies pushed for younger and younger crowds, sucking up every last penny out of a mindless materialistic society willing to buy anything the world said their kid just had to have.   So now, it's normal for girls in second grade to bug Mom for a push-up bikini and skinny jeans.  And it's normal for young children to worry endlessly about what they wear to school and whether it will be 'cool' or acceptable to their peers.  This is normal.  And it's normal to consume.  All the time.  Whatever makes you feel 'good'.  Whatever helps you create yourself.  And millions of kids are growing up believing that they are what they buy.  What kind of adults will these children be?  Where are we heading?

We've chosen to stand apart. 

We're nothing special.  We just see the chaos the world is throwing at us when it comes to how we're 'supposed' to raise our children.  We've decided to say no to the world.  We believe in keeping our children innocent for as long as we can.  Our kids have no idea what a brand name is.  They have no concept that what they wear makes any difference at all.  And to us, it doesn't.  It shouldn't. Our kids wear what they want, no matter what.   

Why, parents, do our children need to be fed this garbage?  Why are they being bred to be consuming machines, buying up everything they can to feed their need to 'fit in'?  How can we stand apart in this crazy world?  Isn't it an impossible task?  Isn't it useless to even try to fight the beast which is pop-culture?


No it isn't impossible, and no, it isn't useless.  As parents, we choose how to raise our children.  And as for me and my family, we're letting them grow up slow.  We're keeping them away from negative influences like popular music, television,  kid-marketed movies, Disney, commercials, the Mall, kid-stores, and the list goes on.  That's right, our family doesn't go to the Mall.  We are choosing to stand apart so we can foster our family's love of God, nature, and the simple things.  We strive to build up their confidence, love of others, and true, soul-gripping sense of self through our faith in Jesus and their connection to family and nature.  Contrary to what Pop-culture says, for us, it's about learning how not to consume and through our un-consumption, growing our own sense of purpose in this crazy world.  

As they grow, we will teach our children to have the ability to make their own good decisions about products.  They will be taught (and are already be taught) what marketing is and how advertisers us tactics to manipulate people to consume. It's vital that parents educate their children in this way if they want their children to grow up savvy about how this world wants to dictate to us how to live.

But we need to let children be children.  I believe we are called to shelter them from the corrupt chaos which is Pop-culture consumption.  There will come a day when their eyes will be opened and they will have to flex those strengthened muscles of self-discipline and discernment.  But gosh, not at age six.


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