Most of What Kids Learn in School They’ll Never Use ~ Making Room for Wonder, Intrinsic Motivation and People Skills

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Most of What Kids Learn in School They’ll Never Use ~ Making Room for Wonder, Intrinsic Motivation and People Skills

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” ~ Oscar Wilde A few months back I was walking along the streets of Kitsilano when I happily ran into one of my favourite people—Sandra, a grade 9 student. I hadn’t seen her since she began year two of high school so I seized the moment to ask her how it was going. A sour look fell upon her face, followed by, “It’s boring. We’re learning how to measure the circumference of a circle.” She then went on to say with a little bit more bite, “Like we’re ever going to need to know how to do that in the world!” […]

The Wisdom of Giving Your Child a Sword to Play With Instead of a Gun

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The Wisdom of Giving Your Child a Sword to Play With Instead of a Gun

There is a great debate amongst the educators and parents I present to about children playing with guns. In fact, it may be the hottest of all debates (even more than whether to allow children to go up slides!). Does playing with guns support or hinder child development? More so, how might a child playing with guns today impact society tomorrow? As a boy, I remember happily playing with guns. Whether it was with my cork gun shooting cans in my backyard or playing war with plastic guns with my friends, I only have good memories. Gunplay was a means of using my imagination, connecting with others, and being in nature. Looking back now, however, I view those times from mature hindsight, with a depth […]

Connection Precedes Learning and Self-regulation ~ Why Relationships are Foundational in Education and Life

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Connection Precedes Learning and Self-regulation ~ Why Relationships are Foundational in Education and Life

Note to the reader: If you have already read my previous articles on connection and the right brain, you may wish to skip further down to the section on co-regulation. Connection precedes learning How often and in how many ways do we make learning far more important than connection? The school system has been designed to make learning paramount and so often at the cost of the core biological need to bond. This breaks the hearts of so many teachers I present to, leaving them in tears, angry, frustrated. They dearly want to connect with their students, but find it extremely difficult given the expectations of the institution and classroom size. They dearly want to listen to and connect to their own hearts, and do […]

Nothing in Nature is Linear, Yet We Push and “Ready” Children Along Straight Pathways

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Nothing in Nature is Linear, Yet We Push and “Ready” Children Along Straight Pathways

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” ~ Albert Einstein “(A) study, titled ‘Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?,’ compared kindergarten teachers’ attitudes nationwide in 1998 and 2010 and found that the percentage of teachers expecting children to know how to read by the end of the year had risen from 30 to 80 percent. The researchers also reported more time spent with workbooks and worksheets, and less time devoted to music and art.” ~ The New Preschool Is Crushing Kids | Erika Christakis, The Atlantic “In the 1970s, the German government sponsored a large-scale comparison in which the graduates of 50 play-based kindergartens were compared, over time, with the graduates of 50 academic direct-instruction-based kindergartens. Despite the initial academic gains […]

We Heal Not To Continue Healing, But To Live

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We Heal Not To Continue Healing, But To Live

There comes a point along the healing journey when we reach a threshold. We know, intuitively, that it’s time—time to translate all the wisdom we have gathered and gifts awakened into art, into service; time to make courageous changes, to stop searching and begin planting roots for living. It’s time to make ourselves much more available to life, to those who need us. For those who’ve been staunchly committed to their healing journey for years, this can feel incredibly daunting. A great deal of time and energy has been given to turning inwards toward pains and struggles, to giving their fullest attention to themselves. But to now suddenly land somewhere and turn outwards, to commit to someone or something new, to step into the vast […]

Much More Than Things, It’s YOU Children Want ~ Playing With Simple Moments of Joy and Connection

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Much More Than Things, It’s YOU Children Want ~ Playing With Simple Moments of Joy and Connection

I had the fortune to wander through a forest-nestled playground with a group of young children a few weeks ago. It was the beginning of Autumn here in Vancouver. The leaves were turning golden yellow and burnt orange, falling large and small from soaring maples. The idea was to take the kids to one of the most imaginative outdoor playgrounds in the city. Full of colorful slides, swings, bongo drums, climbing apparatuses, bouncy and spinny things, the playground did not fail to delight their curious eyes, exploring hands and climbing feet. After a while I suggested we change things up. There was another playground about a 10-minute (or 30-minute for little legs) walk away. I thought it would be nice to stroll along the winding […]

It’s Not More Anti-Bullying Measures Kids Need, but Rather Kindness

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It’s Not More Anti-Bullying Measures Kids Need, but Rather Kindness

“When faced with the choice of being right or being kind, choose kindness, and you’ll be right every time.” ~ Richard Carlson The above image offers a couple of reminders about the wisdom of teaching kindness instead of anti-bullying. Taking into account how easy it is to focus on the negative (especially in today’s world), as well as the inherent goodness I feel in kids, I certainly believe it’s kindness that needs nurturing, not greater attention to problems; its kindness that needs confirming in the spirit of kids and drawn out with compassion and encouragement. Let’s show kids that we see them instead of focusing so much on the consequences of not being seen. For bullying is a symptom of not having their innate goodness […]

Pause For Love ~ Remember Who You Are, Why You Are Here and What Matters Most

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Pause For Love ~ Remember Who You Are, Why You Are Here and What Matters Most

I was sitting with my book designer in her apartment, struggling through what seemed like another litany of hurdles that go along with publishing. But that day there was a new challenge we’d yet to confront. A fuse blew, killing her internet connection. We needed that connection if we were to do the research and share material between our computers. So she phoned her landlord. “Hi Nigel. I’ve blown a fuse. Can you come replace it?” Nigel? Nigel Williams? It couldn’t be. Yet it was. I could hear his old, familiar, distinguishably sluggish Welsh accent moaning through the phone; my long lost uncle who I’d not seen in twenty years, someone who’s had as difficult a life as anyone I know, and someone my family […]

Remembering the Wildness You Are

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Remembering the Wildness You Are

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” ~ Alan Cohen As we fear death, we fear life. And in fearing the emptiness that comes with dying we fear our native wildness. The two pairings go hand-in-hand. The impersonal nature of wildness is born in the space between our flurry of personal plans and agendas. There is comfort and safety in the stories of our lives. We grasp believing them to be “our” life. But just as we don’t “own” land, we cannot […]

Meditation Alone is Not Enough ~ Trauma Resolution and the Need for Therapeutic Relationships

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Meditation Alone is Not Enough ~ Trauma Resolution and the Need for Therapeutic Relationships

Meditation is much harder when we have yet to feel the wounds and release the trauma held in our nervous system. In the past few years, through a deep commitment to working with my trauma, my mind has quieted much more than it used to. Meditation has changed because my whole life has naturally become more of a meditation, not just the time I am sitting on my couch in the morning. The healing work I have done has regulated my sympathetic nervous system (mobilization and arousal) and deactivated the fight-flight response that was always over-engaged. As a child who endured tremendous adversity, I adapted by being hyper-vigilant, mobilized, ready for action, ready for a fight. I had to protect myself, and my nervous system […]