On the power of just being there, when a child is in distress… and childrearing is not just for parents.

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/04/new-research-on-disciplining-children-will-make-you-better-parent-and-spouse/

I’m really fed up with all these parenting experts. Everybody yammering away, demanding that you fix your kids. Other people who aren’t parents can also help!

It is said that “it takes a village to raise a child”, and this has become an enervated cliché. Judith Rich Harris, in her book The Nurture Assumption, contends that children are raised by their peers, not their parents. You only have to look at how little time kids spend with mum and dad these days to realise that school and friends must have a significant influence as well.

Notice this word ‘parenting’. It’s a thing parents do, therefore! If we call it parenting we are embedding the idea that parents are the only people who can do it, or should do it. You are a parent, it’s your job! You are not a parent, it’s not your business! This is nonsensical and counterfactual. It ignores the potential involvement of all the other significant adults in the child’s life.

People like older brothers and sisters, and grandparents, and teachers and family friends, and as we shall see in a moment, playworkers.

Can we stop calling it parenting? I have developed a conceptual aversion to nouns being turned into verbs. Let’s call it childrearing. Not a thing reserved for biological parents. Which is just as well, because if yours are absent you can’t be parented, can you?

Childrearing. Who can do it, who does do it?

Jane Jacobs, in The Death And Life Of Great American Cities, describes how all the others that children meet as they make their way on the streets make a contribution to the socialisation of the child. Imagine a spoilt brat, who is given everything they need by doting parents. Now imagine this brat throwing a wobbly in the corner shop. A learning experience for them, yes? Tantrums don’t work on strangers. Through these everyday interactions with people who aren’t parents, children learn to get on with others. It’s socialisation, something that just happens, not something that parents can command and control like managerial managers at work.

But those adults can’t be expected to be supportive when a child is having a meltdown in their shop. Though they may care about the child, because humans do, their main focus is not the child it’s their customers and their shop.

Everybody has an agenda, except one, because they aren’t trying to educate or control or whatever: playworkers.

It’s unfortunately true that some playworkers have been channeled into becoming childcare workers, and thus an agenda had crept in. I’m not taking about them.

I’m talking about those playworkers who are still free to facilitiate {deleted: ‘allow’ replaced with ‘facilitate’} children to play freely. A vanishing breed.

The article I’m pointing you to is pretty witless. It’s based on the assumption that everything is down to the hovering parent to fix. It’s like every neurotic parent has Fix You by those mawkish poshboys Coldplay on repeat all day. Over-parenting is part of the problem, it’s not the solution. But buried in this tiger-mom piffle is an important insight, drawn from some fascinating brain scan research:

Because neurons wire and rewire themselves very rapidly when we are young, Siegle’s results, supported by numerous follow-up studies, suggest that an adult, by establishing a connection with a child at a moment of stress or conflict, can actually stimulate development in the parts of the child’s brain that control emotional regulation.

Translate that into the playwork context and you have a fundamentally under-appreciated contribution that playworkers can make in the lives of the children they work with.

Unlike parents and other authority figures, playworkers are expert in what Gordon Sturrock has called ‘witnessing’, the simple act of being there, being on hand, non-judgementally.

And this research validates the importance of this playwork role.

______________

NB:

I’m not that happy with this piece. I’m not convinced that I’ve got my point across. I’d appreciate any comments from readers and friends that will help me improve it.

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Childrensaving and Ship Building (NB: it’s Shipbuilding, all one word)

Currently, Wallsend is having its children saved. Hurrah.

Childrensaving is happening, thanks to a government-funded programme, delivered by a national children’s charity, saviours of  children, heroes in their own lunchtime {a lunch of rocket, kale and organic polenta, to be precise}.

This is part of the ongoing long-term —some things are long-term, aren’t they— the ongoing long-term deracination and outsourcing of the role of local government in the public realm.

Successive governments, red and blue and yellow, have decided that local government can’t be trusted. Central government prefers to impose 3rd sector agencies from London on communities, because local government is infested with a ‘can’t-do’ mentality and is bogged down in local politics and can’t make the thrusting managerialist interventions, on absurdly short timescales [ie. before the next election], that politicians command but can’t control.

If you wanted to talk about shipbuilding to people in Wallsend, which is the topic today, BTW, you might start by learning that shipbuilding is all one word, it’s not Ship Building. A ship building would be the hut in which you keep your little rowing boat, by a river bank. Or is it riverbank? A river bank would be a bank in which you keep rivers, or something.

So anyway, here is The Theory Which Will Transform Wallsend, starting from the ‘Past Context’ of “Ship Buildings (Lost)”…Wallsend Children_s Community Initial Overarching Theory of Change

And here is another Theory of Change…

 

You’re all busy people who don’t have time to listen to some bloody lefty pop song from 1982, so here’s the lyrics for all you busy managers who need it one side of A4 by 9 o’clock tomorrow morning…

Is it worth it?
A new winter coat and shoes for the wife
And a bicycle on the boy’s birthday
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
By the women and children
Soon we’ll be shipbuilding
Well, I ask you
The boy said, Dad, they’re going to take me to Task
But I’ll be back by Christmas?
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
Somebody said that someone got filled in
For saying that people get killed in
The result of  The shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
A telegram or a picture postcard
Within weeks, they’ll be re-opening the shipyards
And notifying the next of kin, once again
It’s all we’re skilled in
We will be shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
It’s all we’re skilled in
We will be shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
When we could be diving for pearls
When we could be diving for pearls

 

https://www.quantamagazine.org

https://www.quantamagazine.org/first-support-for-a-physics-theory-of-life-20170726/

First Support for a Physics Theory of Life

July 26, 2017

Take chemistry, add energy, get life. The first tests of Jeremy England’s provocative origin-of-life hypothesis are in, and they appear to show how order can arise from nothing.

Great Big Story : A Fold Apart: Origamist Robert Lang’s Incredible Paper Creations

https://www.greatbigstory.com/stories/folded-universe-the-astonishing-beauty-of-origami

Just astonishing.

And the practical applications are also breathtaking.

Organisation, management. 

One side of A4 indeed, o, managers.

Thinking in Systems

 Donella H. Meadows
“So, what is a system? A system is a set of things—people, cells, molecules, or whatever—interconnected in such a way that they produce their own pattern of behavior over time. 

A system is an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organized in a way that achieves something. We can’t impose our will on a system. We can listen to what the system tells us, and discover how its properties and our values can work together to bring forth something much better than could ever be produced by our will alone.

There are no separate systems. The world is a continuum. Where to draw a boundary around a system depends on the purpose of the discussion.

We know a tremendous amount about how the world works, but not nearly enough. Our knowledge is amazing; our ignorance even more so… 

You can drive a system crazy by muddying its information streams. Purposes are deduced from behavior, not from rhetoric or stated goals.

Missing information flows is one of the most common causes of system malfunction. Adding or restoring information can be a powerful intervention, usually much easier and cheaper than rebuilding physical infrastructure. 

Remember, always, that everything you know, and everything everyone knows, is only a model. Get your model out there where it can be viewed. Invite others to challenge your assumptions and add their own.

Thou shalt not distort, delay, or withhold information.”

― Donella H. Meadows, 

Thinking in Systems: A Primer
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donella_Meadows
Donella H. Meadows (March 13, 1941 – February 20, 2001) was a pioneering American environmental scientist, teacher, and writer. She is best known as lead author of the influential book “The Limits to Growth” and “Thinking in Systems: a Primer”

( from the excellent: https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com )

“FairCoop: Virus of Cooperation Infects a New economy”

In a world changing as rapidly as ours, where disruptive technologies are aggregating and creating an unprecedented multiplier effect, the way we can become as successful as possible is by also aggregating simultaneously, coming up with new and better ideas day by day, building our knowledge and experiences in our own FairCoop ecosystem.

“We do not destroy the system by attacking it with our wooden spears. We are creating a valid alternative, and have started developing it. FairCoop aims to provide new, free, collaborative economic, social and technological tools for everyone, and will try to make sure they are used in a cooperative way for the creation and expansion of the commons worldwide. An Earth cooperative to build the fair world of the future.

“We can all help to make this happen. You can learn about the different ways to get involved here.”
http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/faircoop-virus-of-cooperation-infects-a-new-economy/