Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How Adults Talk To Children.

Below are some observations I have made about how adults talk to children. We can all do better. We need to work to improve it. Some people will be thinking , "I already do these things." That may well be true but even as I work to apply these concepts daily I discover little things that I do are not helpful. Be careful and be aware is a good motto.
Talk to children as you would talk to adults. They are a person the same as you. When you talk to an adult as an equal they see that you are treating them with respect and as a result they learn to trust you. They gain confidence from the interaction and experience growth. Does this mean you stop being the adult? No. Children will still need the guidance and support but when treated as equals they don’t have to long to be older. They already are.
When a situation arises with a child that bothers you stop and think: How would I deal with this if it was an adult? Choose your words carefully. Anger is often misused in these situations. Instead we need to look at the situation and assess the damage. The child most likely feels guilty about it. Talk to them respectfully will restore their confidence and help them to see that what they did was wrong but they are capable of fixing it. If objects are broken, they can be replaced. Breaking a child is far more damaging than anything you own.
Communicate acceptance of the child and their ideas. Children like to ask questions. Through these questions they gain an understanding of the world. This is the perfect place to open communication and build your relationship. Develop and refine their questions and then have them find an answer. Discuss the answer. You will build their confidence at the same time as you build your relationship.
Talk with children not at them. As adults we have a tendency to talk down to them. We have a tendency to talk from an authority position, not as an equal. When we talk with them we are building self esteem and creating great learning moments for them. When we talk at them they tend to not listen and shut dot down. This leads to further disconnect.
Poor communication skills are the greatest disservice we do to children. When we do not take the time to communicate with them effectively they instinctively turn off what we have to say because it isn’t of value to them. This leads to the constant conflict and bickering that often permeates the world around teenagers. They become uncomfortable and wary because they are unsure of their world, how to react and demonstrate appropriate behaviour. If we are working to build communication in a positive way they respond more favourably.

We need to demonstrate a positive world to our kids. It is the first step towards building a better world. All kids need to be in this better place.       

Monday, December 8, 2014

Where is the Revolution in Education? response

Last week in my blog I posted an article on, Where is The Revolution In Education?

A reader posted it on his Facebook site looking for discussion. One reader wrote back:

I wrote:

==We need to build a positive culture that encourages students to become lifelong learners. It is the job of both parents and teachers to do this. ==

The responder wrote:

``People are born lifelong learners. They know how to learn and can play a crucial, if not lead, role in building a positive culture. I don't like how the author is focusing on young people needing adults for learning and positive culture to exist.``

When this was first shared with me I was of mixed reaction. The first was she is absolutely correct. Children are lifelong learners from birth. The second was that her knowledge of the implications of lifelong learning was a bit skewed.

Lifelong learning is indeed something every child is born with. However the things that get in the way of this lifelong learning often obscure or discourage children from following up on their ideas and dreams. This discouragement comes from the power the adults exercise over the children. This power is in the words the adults choose and the things they say to children. Every day I watch adults speak to children in ways they would never speak to other adults. Condescension, sarcasm, and arguing: in essence doing things that sow doubt and mistrust are happening every day. Adults rarely recognize they do this. It has become so pervasive that it is not given a second thought. All these things take a bite out of lifelong learning. All send a message that the thoughts and feelings of children are not valuable.  

Children will be lifelong learners as long as those who are in supporting roles are encouraging children with positive feedback in a non-threatening way. The children are capable of exponential growth under the right conditions. Adults play a vital role in this. We all need to do our part to encourage this growth. Are you doing your part?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Finding Self Esteem in Children

Finding Self Esteem in Children
By Bill Ferguson

In my early years as a teacher I viewed children mainly as my teachers did when I went to school. They were to sit in rows, listen attentively, work hard and be polite. It worked to some degree.  After the first couple of years I noticed a couple of things. The first was that it was easier to teach those children who desired to learn no matter what level they were at in their learning. Weak or strong students who wanted to learn made learning and teaching fun. I asked myself what was it that made those weak students so motivated to learn. As I watched and listened some of it was their home environment and in some it was inquisitiveness. I looked at those who did not desire to learn. Again some had a poor home environment, but mostly it was the topics they were being taught and the way it was done. It held no interest to them. Many liked to work with their hands and build things. These fuelled their imaginations. There was also a lack of self-esteem that was involved with these students when it came to classroom work.
The second was that my teaching style and expectations were out of line with what was happening in the rest of the student’s lives. It was my realization that student conversations held far more interest for them than what I had to teach them.  I also saw that their discussions were about educational things that challenged their imagination. This made for amazing discussions that went further than anything I could have taught them. They reached conclusions and saw cause and effect for more efficiently than if I had them draw it out of a story. These discussions also created a personal context between the students and me leading to greater trust. It allowed me to guide them rather than push them into places they did not want to go but would on their own.
While I reached the same conclusions as Dr. Sugata Mitra and his experiments with SOLE, Self-Organized Learning Environments, it took his work to send it home to me. The students need to come first and follow their interests. As a teacher it is my duty to make sure the curriculum is taught. It is also my duty to educate students in higher level thinking skills. In order to do both I had to come up with a way to do both because the traditional way did not work.
As a teacher I realized that lack of self-esteem was the number one issue in building the educational career of everyone in my class. Student lack of self-esteem is far more prevalent than one would realize. It doesn’t matter the student, self-esteem is the issue. Good students have self-esteem issues that rely on whether they do well or not on assignments or tests. There are social issues. Weak students know they cannot compete and feel disillusioned. Their learning disabilities have put them behind their classmates and they feel they can never catch up.
This lack of self-esteem comes from a number of sources both inside and outside the classroom. As adults while we think we are doing our best to raise our children the fact of the matter is that we often make poor word and sentence choices that are interpreted differently by children than we intend. We often cut off their enthusiasm; sometimes inadvertently as it crops up at inopportune times and often advertently because we are doing something that could be disturbed but choose to place it first over the child’s needs..
How to build self-esteem became the question that needed to be answered. I turned to books and the internet but the suggestions were too many and with no agreement. The one thing I have discovered is that as adults we have to give up the notion of being in control. We are only in control because someone allows us to be in control or in charge. The fact is when we enforce our control we are undermining the children’s efforts to being taken seriously in the world. Control is about dominance not about equal and fair treatment. When we let go of control and accept everyone’s ideas as being worthy of discussion it is a win-win situation. Children gain trust and feel valued. Adults look good in kid’s eyes. This works in school as well. Yes there are times when as an adult we have to pull rank but we also need to explain why we did it so they understand that aspect of it.
What does this all mean? As adults we are doing a poor job of communicating with our children. Each and every one of us sends mixed messages through the words we choose and the sentences we say. Children need far more positive than in order to grow and lead fulfilling lives. We need to become the people we think we are instead of the people we are. Stay positive and your kids will prosper.  

Where Is The Revolution In Education?

Where Is The Revolution In Education?
By Bill Ferguson

In Ontario, where I live, we have seen the spelling revolution (toss all the spelling books out because they are irrelevant), the common sense revolution (where they ripped apart the very fabric of education) the computer/technology revolution, the child centred revolution, the themed revolution, the testing is right revolution, the taxpayers revolution and many more revolutions in education. We have all seen them. They were all meant to cure a problem that was perceived to put education at a disadvantage endangering the education of our students and children.  The problem with them all is that they were all conceived by adults who did not look at learning through the eyes of children. They all have underestimated the capability of children to learn using the tool they have been given to do it with, the brain.

The brain is the oldest tool that humans have to use. It has been the most constant thing in every year humans have walked the earth. Given free reign it has developed some of the most miraculous things man has ever seen. Children have the same minds as adults. Yes they don’t have the knowledge in detail that experience brings but that doesn’t mean they can’t draw conclusions and see cause and effect and deliver results based on what their mind thinks. Yet adults have for centuries seen children as being inferior objects when it comes to the using of their brain. Adults have dominated and imposed their will on children forcing children to see themselves as being substandard people who will get it when they get older. This is where the revolution in education really is. Adults must change how they view children.

Without this change in the way adults view children education cannot change. Adults have to see children as equals in learning and encourage their development through asking questions and then discovering answers. This environment, phrased in positive words and sentiments, allows the children to grow in ways that an educational system and curriculum could not provide for them. The problem is that the adults have to change from a “me first” and value of objects way of looking at things to a children first, positive atmosphere, in a supportive environment. When a child is running in the house or playing and breaks an object, adults often focus on “Look what you have done!” meaning they value the object over their child. By putting the child first either the adult would not have bought the object or reinforce the fact that some activities should be taking place in other environments. We have so infused negativity into our language that we do not see the damage that is being done. Everything we do impacts a child’s growth.

In essence we need to build a positive culture that encourages students to become lifelong learners. It is the job of both parents and teachers to do this. This positive environment will reach children far more meaningfully than todays present system does. When we tap into the self-interests of children they have a greater desire to learn and become lifelong learners. They develop a desire to ask questions and pursue answers when they know they are supported and valued when doing this.

The Revolution in Education is in the hands of adults in how they look at and treat children. Are the adults up to the task?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Kickstarter help.

Below is the essence of the Kickstarter program we are hoping to roll out shortly. I have included the essence of that we are doing and looking for feedback on it. You can either reply here or email me directly. I am especially interested in the rewards for investing with us. Is it too much? Not enough?

Thanks for your help

Using Self Organized Learning Environments and The Latest in Technology To Enrich the Lives of Children.


To develop the interests and abilities of all children through using the latest technologies.

To develop a platform from which all children can work together to research and share information.

To have children from all walks of life and anywhere in the world researching to help make the world a better place

To develop a method for children to be compensated for their research.

Imagine children, abled and disabled, from anywhere in the world working together to create community and enrich lives.

Imagine children researching and sharing information based on their interests leading to improved reading and comprehension levels through using technology and higher level thinking skills.

Imagine children working together to research and reach positive conclusions that help make this world a better place.

What we propose to do

Build a SOLE powered Google search engine.
To build an interface where children can share their research
To build a model for children to research issues of ecological impact for consumers
To provide a place of involvement for all children regardless of their abilities
Kickstarter rewards

The question is are these too much? Not enough?
Is the spread too wide? Any thoughts

What gifts do we offer on Kick starter
$5 - $50 wrist bands to demonstrate they are part of the cause
$100 really cool T Shirts
$1000 chromebook or tablet
over $5000 Emotive headset

so many free searches..

supported G apps accounts