How parents fail.

Our parents don’t fail us when they can’t make it to sports games, don’t bake the perfect birthday cake, aren’t there to watch us get a certificate. When they make a decision once or twice that they later regret. They don’t fail us when they are poor and the electricity sometimes gets shut off.

Our parents fail us when they are unable to love us and provide us with a secure safe environment to grow and flourish in.  They fail us when they systemically act in a way that makes us feel worthless, year after year.  We are monkeys – we’re pretty simple – it’s about love and security.

Rocamadour

Our parents fail us when they can’t consistently see beyond their own needs and wants, or their own failures in life – and they are unable to shift into a gear that involves simply doing what is best for the growing child.  And ‘doing best’ is not fulfilling the little darlings every wish and want. It never was.

Our parents fail us when they don’t see us.  When we are hidden to them. When they can’t take that sometimes gargantuan step into ‘small child needs’. When they leave us alone because we are just ‘too hard’ and when they don’t care what time we come home when we are still kids. When they don’t touch us in a loving empathetic way. Because they don’t know how to – or they don’t want to.

Children don’t have to fulfil parent’s expectations in order to be loved, just like a parent will never completely fulfil a child’s expectations.

Guess what – we are allowed to be the ‘difficult child’. The challenging child. The different child. Most families have one – usually because there are similarities to one of the parents. We’ve grabbed their genes, after all. No-one is perfect.

Parents can be tested. That is almost the very definition of being a parent.

These parents usually know they are failing. Somewhere deep inside.

No matter how ‘wonderful’ they are to the outside world.

For kids – it’s not about how many after school activities you are ferried to. It’s not about being worshipped. And it’s definitely not about being told how much they love you. That can be nice – but I know just as many people who grew up with the silent loving parents as the daily ‘I love you’ parents – who are just as secure in their parents love.

It’s about love and comfort.

It’s about being nurtured and supported.  ‘I can’t be at the sports games but I’ll make sure you get there. I will be interested in who you are as a person. I will be there for you for the rest of my life.’

To create a solid foundation for a child to flourish into a confident adult.

Because if you are not loved, flourishing is really hard. Because everything that is said, and, more often than not, unsaid, in the family home, is understood by that child. Negativity seeps into your bones and weighs you down, decade after decade.

Are you worthwhile?  Or are you not?

It can be a massive head-shift to understand that when your parents fail it is not necessarily about you. It can simply be their failure to look beyond their own problems and screw-ups. Sometimes it’s about their state of mental health.

Their inability to ‘grow’.

And the hardest thing for an adult that grew up in a world where they were ‘lesser’ – is to understand, it is not about us. When we are kids lack of truly meaningful love seeps into our subconscious and becomes an indelible part of us. We become defined by an absence of love.

It takes grim determination to kick that one off.

The most important thing a person can do is shift their own gears away from that person who, every time they see that person, makes them shrink inside themselves.  Because ongoing constant (and often subtle) rejection of us as a person – which can be how we interpret all this – makes you feel sick and sad and empty.

I’m not talking about bad times, hard moments, fracturing and difficulty in your teen years – I am talking about decades of knowing your parent/s can’t/won’t love you.

You can’t ever expect to change them. Especially by just sitting around waiting for them to change.  You’ve probably been trying for years to get them to ‘see’ you. Lifetime habits don’t change easily.

Stop wishing.

Create your own soil to flourish in.

Reframe yourself.  If you, in your own life, live in a home that you are happy to come home to (mansions always come at a cost), are with a kind and thoughtful partner &/or friends, and have parented children (if you got there) in a way that is never perfect – but is always defined by your trying to do the right thing for them, with boundaries and care – and so you can see that your world and your kids are happy and confident in a way you could never imagine,…..

If you are watching your children thrive and grow with wings you knew you never had.

You are a success.

So little by little, let go of these people that taught you about suffering. Accept them for who they are. Know that you have learnt much from them.

Give yourself permission to walk away. Because they’ve stuffed up. Failed. You can’t change them. It’s not about you.

Leave them to their own lives.

They’ve taught you enough.

Posted in Kids & Family, Philosophy | Tagged | Leave a comment

Making a rash decision from the gut. About a dog.

Myrtle up close 1I am about to conduct an experiment on the dog.

My dog Myrtle has had skin based stomach rashes for a good 6 months now.  Extensive reading has lead me to a mother-type conclusion.  Perhaps an outrageous theory (that is grounded in science..) – that most rashes and problems we see on our body, are connected to gut health.  Of course there are other rashes that may not be.  But we can always race to our much loved vet.

And I am going to have a red hot go, at fixing her.

Of course, I am no vet.  I have been feeding my dog reasonably healthy, cereal based foods for the last 6 years with the odd fresh bone thrown in.  She is entering middle age.  And this rash is ugly.

I want a long term fix. Nothing less.

She is going back to what her great, great grandparents used to eat, back to the basics.

I have begged 3 months grace with the other half in order to restore gut health to Myrtle the fox terrier.  Apparently that is the time you need to get back on track.

When it comes down to it, dog cereal biscuits ain’t no freshly killed rabbit.

My theory is that many of the same disorders are affecting dogs as humans.  We are seeing higher incidence of problems related to gut dysbiosis and a permeable gut (with a broken cell wall) – allergies, autoimmune disease, type 1 diabetes, skin and thyroid problems – in the human population, as well as our darling beloved pets.  The whole permeable gut problem ties back to gut wall breakdown and reduced microbiota populations.  As a result we are not processing our food as well, we are not extracting the nutrients as well.  Food is becoming foreign as it gets through our gut wall and causes an autoimmune reaction. Our immune systems are not as robust. We are weaker.

With modern medicine, we have fewer communicable diseases causing us hassle, but there is massive growth in non-communicable disease that was never previously at the levels we see today.

Every second person I meet has something going wrong.  It’s not just better diagnostics. It’s not just ‘weak’ genes. Our grandparents didn’t tip over into autoimmune disease when a stressful, heart braking tragedy occurred.  Or just tipped over for no apparent reason.  Not at the same rate we are now.

We have always had families with genetic tendencies that have the unlucky misfortune to, for example, develop Crohn’s disease.  But we have Crohn’s disease in epidemic proportions compared to 30 years ago.

I tend to think tragedies are ‘tipping points.’  But they’re not the culprit.

There is a ‘something else’ going on inside us is that can make us ‘tip over’ into illness in stressful times – an environmental trigger - and it’s often a weak gut. But this is a slow process that we don’t see. So we don’t know it is happening.

If you look at government budgets for autoimmune disease – in my own country New Zealand, our Pharmac register, drugs for autoimmune disease are the most expensive group of medicines tax payers shell out for. It is not a stretch to say that these illnesses are reaching pandemic proportions.

Yet there is no autoimmune database tracking these illnesses in my country.  There is no discussion of the correlation between a permeable gut and these disorders in the mainstream media. It is all about medicine to fix the problem – important – but not the full story.  People don’t want to get sick in the first place.

And what if a restored gut and microbiota health mean’t that in some cases, we would not have to depend on long term medicine?  But it’s not covered in mainstream medicine.

We need to dedicate research to the environmental triggers that cause this damage. But there is miniscule funding going towards looking at the causes of gut dysbiosis, breakdown of the gut wall and identifying the causes of microbiota death.

It is not a priority.

Sadly, when you look at all the research organisations, cancer, Crohn’s, diabetes type 1, rheumatoid arthritis – and the others – research funding allocations are allocated to researching new drugs. Making more medicine.

What if 20% of their research funds were allocated to researching the cause?  Researching the toxins that trigger disease, rather than just medicine to manage and treat disease? Perhaps our world would be vastly different.

Please can you consider that the Roundup pesticide levels permitted on our cereals – our wheat, barley and oats etc – have increased 6 fold in the last 10 years.  That the levels of Roundup permitted on the over 80 different GMO’s permitted in New Zealand’s diet is astonishingly high – these foods are not yet labelled – mainly corn, soy and canola. The pesticide levels are way higher than what independent scientists recommend. The researched irritant that is within GM food, never discussed by mainstream media.

Don’t groan because I am bringing up the ‘pesticide thing’. There’s a reason why people are concerned about our current exposure levels, and they’re grounded in science.

Roundup – or the weaker active chemical, glyphosate is registered as an antibiotic – it kills bugs – microbiota. It also chelates – pulls metals together – and many scientists believe, makes it harder for us to digest vital minerals and vitamins.

Please understand that the full formulation of Roundup is never tested by the regulatory agencies – only the weaker glyphosate.  And as a mother, it is confronting to me that pesticides are never tested on rodents in the lead up to pregnancy or in the equivalent first trimester for the important developmental studies.

Scientists are calling it ‘the worlds most significant environmental toxin’. That’s a very big call.   It’s a lot to, well, ……………………… digest.

And when you look the ingredients label on your dogs food – and what is in our supermarket food – a picture comes together that shows that our staple foods – wheat, corn, soy – that is in so much of the stuff we buy – are the same foods with the highest Roundup residue loads.

There are other contributors, other culprits contributing towards this suffering, of course there are. But this dark empty space of no-research for the most common pesticide on planet Earth is well, wrong.  For a bit more reading on what other mothers day you can visit Moms Across America.  Most of them, by way of watching sick kids suffering, have entered the world of science in a way many of them never imagined they would.

Back to my dog.  I am going off grid.  Entering the dark side. So far, it has worked for my health and my families health. Keeping it simple.  Eating real food.

So for now it’s green animal guts, fresh meat, a small amount of suitable vegies and a vitamin & mineral mix for Myrtle the wee fox terrier. Approximately the same cost as medicine, I am guessing. And a bit more hassle.  But she is a pretty special part of our family.

We’re staying away from pork and chicken – they’re the meats with the highest load of GM feed, sadly.

I’m just relieved she is small, so not too expensive.

The finger has been pulled out and the experiment is ON!

Will it work for my dog?

Or will I end up at the vets?

I know, you are beside yourself with excitement.  Jiggling in your seat.

Posted in Environment, Health, Kids & Family | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Roundup & glyphosate: Independent Research is the Key

crop massgen poppies

This article is a response to an opinion piece in the Bay of Plenty Herald.  Unlike most opinion pieces, the piece BOP Times Independent research is the key never went online…. so here is the text:

In response to Tauranga city council’s communications adviser Marcel Currin’s opinion piece ‘Scare Tactics Modify Stance on GMOs’, of Friday December 6th.

He discusses unhappy rats that ended up with ugly tumours.

Why is there such a fuss over this study?

It’s different.

Professor Seralini is the first scientist to do a lifetime study of the complete Roundup formulation. The study found tumours both with rats fed GMOs and rats fed only Roundup. And they were higher than the control group of rats – the rats on a normal diet.

None of the big assessment agencies like the WHO, EPA and European Commission consider the stronger formula – it is not industry requirement.  But there are a tonne of scientists out there, not connected to industry that want studies of the complete Roundup formulation. It’s more toxic.

And the predisposition to tumours?  These are the same rats used historically by Monsanto, Cheminova and Syngenta. These rats have similar responses to toxins to humans living in industrialised societies.

Mr Currin, does the pesticide industry get to use this rat strain for years and then dismiss this strain when an organisation working in the public interest finds tumours (at a higher rate than controls?

I think that’s called having your cake and eating it too.

Normally a journal demands a retraction of a study for faults like data error, plagiarism or unethical reseach.  Many scientists believe the retraction of this study for ‘inconclusive science’ was illicit, unscientific and unethical.

I believe Professor Seralini previously worked for the European agency EFSA, and assessing the GMO’s that come into Europe.  His job was to say ‘yes, these are safe’.  And when he couldn’t say they were safe he couldn’t work there anymore.

So that’s when he started filling in the scientific gaps left by the corporate GMO industry.

Mr. Currin, the world we are in now is a lot different from the world we inhabited as children.  When I was a child, most of the research and development for agriculture was in the hands of government departments.

It’s not like that anymore.

But we need to see toxicity studies, of the formulations we spray on our food, unconnected to industry shareholders, proving safety.  That’s my middle ground, I don’t believe that’s a ‘sensationalist straw to pluck’.

And your comments regarding ‘anti-GMO grumble’? Why is Roundup so connected to GMO’s?

Because the last 16 years of open research for GMO’s in America have led to more pesticide being sprayed on crops (not less), and the development of six major transgenic pest-management traits dominating pesticide use in the U.S. over this period, 1996–2011: herbicide-resistant (Roundup) corn, soybeans, and cotton;  Bt corn and cotton.

Thousands of smaller ag-based firms have closed business as ownership of the corn traits have led to domination by a small group of firms.

This has led to less crop diversity, higher input margins for farmers, less crop rotation, less drought tolerance, poorer soils and more chemicals on our food.

The scientists at Scion will tell you that internationally, scientists have no problem with GMOs.

The fact is, internationally, industry connected scientists have no problems with GMOs.  But scientists and medical professionals unconnected to GMO industry in the fields of toxicology, paediatrics, neurology, oncology, soil science, endocrinology and veterinary work have a huge problem with them.  These guys want more science to prove safety.

The legal term of GRAS that GMO’s receive, generally regarded as safe, means this stuff doesn’t get tested for toxicity, ever. Yet science demonstrates GMO corn has 18 times the safe level of glyphosate set by the EPA.  GMO plants have less essential nutrients in them – less calcium, less magnesium, less manganese.

They are different.

One of the latest food New Zealand GMO food approvals is for corn with an insecticidal toxin inside the actual plant, which can be then sprayed with Roundup, and 2,4-D and glufosinate and a new pesticide called AOPP.  All together.  These are called stacked traits.

No assessment agency in the world requires these combined pesticides to be tested cumulatively to prove them safe.

Every carcinogenicity study in the world declaring 2,4-D is safe, is directly paid for by Dow or a pesticide industry organisation known as 2,4-D task force?

Intuition, logic and independent science tells me this is not safe. For our kids. This is why I write.

Mr Currin, the Scion scientists believe if the Bay of Plenty uses the term ‘precautionary principle’ in its policy wording it will lead to less science. Poppycock.

Many of our food exporters involved with ongoing research and development believe higher premiums are tied to a GMO free export product.

Consider Comvita, for instance. Do they fit in your ‘middle ground’?

Mr. Currin, my central, conservative view, is that we need more science. More research to prove safety – that is not paid for by industry.

And a heck of a lot of very conservative scientists and corporations agree with me.

Jodie Bruning.

References: 

Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. — the first sixteen years:  Charles M Benbrook  http://www.enveurope.com/content/24/1/24

European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility: http://www.ensser.org/increasing-public-information/no-scientific-consensus-on-gmo-safety/

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Free-range kids in the Bay of Plenty.

2012-02-27 003

Our family ended up at Matahui Road School after moving from a highly esteemed local primary school in the Bay of Plenty Region, where after 6 weeks in the new entrance class the teacher didn’t realise that my son could read, do some maths, that sort of stuff.  She really had no idea.  Things change and this may not be a problem at that school anymore, but it was a problem for us then.

And then, one day at the previous school when I was quietly helping in the classroom, Will finished his project and went into a corner and rolled a yellow digger up and down repeatedly for 20 minutes.  The teacher was busy, harassed, she didn’t have time to look after him, and he was causing no trouble.  And I thought to myself, is this how his education will be?  In this large classroom at this beautifully resourced, decile 10 school?  He dashes through his work and has permission to be bored because he causes no trouble?  Oh, and then he would hop in the car at the end of the day talking about being pushed over and kicked by a gang of boys….  so many factors weren’t right.

At about the same time my cousin had apologetically told me that her kids wouldn’t be going to this same school, the school their father and grandfather had attended, because she had found another one.  One that was little, just north of Tauranga, it was independent (private) and well, different.  A school that claimed to ‘inspire a love of learning’ that was wise to such things as the ‘habits of mind’ – a concept that was new to me then.  Learning isn’t just about knowing stuff – it is about learning behaviour that will make you strong in this world.  Fair enough.

This school, apparently, reinforced ideas such as:  ‘the true measure of success is not in knowing the right answer, but in knowing what to do when you don’t have the right answer’.

To teach confidence in how we approach this world.   Big call.

My mother-in-law had gone along with my cousin to the open day, possibly a little jaded that the daughters-in-law were departing from family habitude.  But once she arrived at Matahui Road School she exclaimed happily “but this is how the boy’s school used to be!”  And she was converted. Our hearts lifted.

It is a little school, our school, with under 90 on the role.  And its main claim to fame for every new parent, a critical variable for many –  are low class sizes.  Every family has a child that needs extra attention – a little more time.  And to be honest, I believe that is all most children need to get there in the end – time.  Patience.  Something this world does not always have.

And with smaller classes I do believe this is what we get – a more focussed and less harassed teacher. A critical variable in successful learning.

Matahui Road School is an independent primary school in the Western Bay of Plenty.  This is quite rare in our region.  It survives on half the income per student that the flash secondary schools in Auckland and over the hill in the Hamilton region, require to survive.  It is not rich.  It has a marketing budget that would fit in my belly button, as money is spent on more important things.  Nor is it a religious school.  It was set up 25 years ago by two mothers who had a vision of a school where children could be free to learn, free to explore, in a safe yet dynamic environment where risks could be taken –  self-esteem fostered and confidence encouraged.  I would definitely say it is a highly moral school – in part because of a values system that is entwined throughout the schools culture.

The cars aren’t as grand as the public school down the road – many parents make sacrifices to send their kids here.  People don’t come here to name drop.  They come here to make happy, strong kids.

Everyone is different and here, this attitude seems to work.  Our school gets excellent academic results – Matahui, for a small school, punches above its weight.  Our ICAS results confirm this.  There is also, and many of us believe importantly, an energy and strength about the kids who, after their stint here depart for college/secondary – and the feedback from the secondary schools confirms it.

Teachers here are kind, and, I believe empowered in the process of how they structure the program and teach their kids.  So the teachers are happy here.  And in many ways, in this world today, we underestimate the power of kindness and happy educators.

Here, big kids talk to little kids and little kids talk to big kids – no-one is pigeon holed into playing only with their age group.  Be warned, play equipment can be well, risky at times.  If you swing the swinging ball hard without looking, someone will get hurt.  And the swinging ball is one of the most fabulous, beloved pieces of play equipment in the playground.  Because without risk, kids mightn’t be exposed to anxiety.  Kids need and want risk.  Don’t deny them that. And guess what the swinging ball encourages? Kids looking out for each other! Caring! Sharing! Courage! Communicating! As well as risk.  Crazy how many things one big orange ball can do.

And a comment of my son from a long time ago now, stays with me, ‘Mum, at that school I went to when I was little there were ‘no bullying’ signs everywhere, and I was bullied, but at Matahui there are no ‘no-bullying’ signs’.  How interesting.

Is it the best primary school in the Bay of Plenty?

We think so.

Our daughter and our son have been at Matahui Road School for a few years now, living as free-range kids, barefoot most days, as you do at a Kiwi school.   And I would watch them having fun and running around and it all looked so easy.  And this was something that used to niggle me a lot, because it niggles every parent that comes here at some stage or another – are they learning enough?  Are they on par with NZ, with the international world?  Because there is a financial commitment to coming to this school, and parents don’t just want their kids to thrive – they need to perform academically too.  Is it worth it?

And I can confirm that this school is on par. If not above.  We have just had a year at school in France.  As many of you may know, the French system, is, despite the efforts of caring and dedicated teachers, an industrial system.  It is a ‘sit at your desk and write down this dictation’ kind of system.  Yes, it draws out of the ether some of the best engineers and mathematicians in the world.  But it is a largely joyless system.  So it is natural to question this seemingly laissez faire approach of Matahui and contrast the two educational polarities.

Does it really work?

My kids entered French school with minimal French, and after 4 months struggling with learning a new language, thrived.  Their math and science were fine. They only had a year there and they did well, fitted in and kept up.  All in a foreign language.  Then they returned to Matahui and breathed a big sigh of relief, because they were back in a place where they could be happy AND learn at the same place.

This is a skill not every school can achieve.  And, when it comes down to it, we only live once.

Seniors leave Matahui on every academic level.  Because we are not all the same.  Like the world out there, our kids are a mix of brilliant, average and struggling.  Kids will be who they are.  Some will be academic and some won’t be.  Just like the mix of parents who love them.

But do you know what our school is really good at?

Teaching children that everyone is good at something.  Teaching them that they can learn. Teaching them not to dread school and everything it means.

Fostering friendships and confidence and a love of learning in a world where too often, kids and their simple need to be kids, gets left behind.  One of the big buzzwords when it comes to success these days is ‘grit’.  This is why Matahui Road School has a nationally awarded EOTC – Education Outside the Classroom program, that builds strengths in kids in ways they never knew they had.

Our school is about self-awareness and self-esteem in children that means they can grow up and be happy adults.  It’s not just a springboard to secondary school.

Oh and along the way tall poppies can be tall poppies, average kids can strive, dyslexics can be dyslexics (and learn to read at all the different ages dyslexics do – not just at 6 and ¾), sporty kids can thrive and spectrum kids can learn in the hundred different ways they do.

And mix in together and play ball tiggy and play music and climb the best climbing tree in the world.

Because our kids have varied and multiple intelligences.  And we love them for it.

Success is success.  And we all reach whatever our definition of what success is, in a million different ways.

Think about every entrepreneur you can imagine.

NB: this rave is unpaid.

 

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Bulimia – acknowledging that parents can screw up is part of healing.

The first thing that happens to us in our life is that we are nourished and nurtured. We naturally, form loving bonds with family around us. This is the essence of life, the meaning of life, however you put it. And it should end with a strong confident next generation.

So how in our deepest soul, could food and nurture and love inevitably not get mixed up in our thoughts?

When love for a child doesn’t happen the ‘right’ way we want, the way we approach food can be different. The wires of comprehension of what ‘love’ is, can become distorted in our attempt to nurture ourselves. We all need love in order to be happy, functioning people.

I believe that in many different ways, love is historically ‘conditional’ for people with significant problems with food. Whether it is intended, or not. It is somehow tied to performance.  Love is difficult. Complicated.  Unconditional love never happened.  So people with an eating disorder (ED) compensate. By stuffing love in their mouth.

While self-esteem withers.

I grew up without a mother around and with the stricter less ‘loving’ love of a stepmother. I very quickly came to know that by cooking and providing food I was approved of. And so when I tumbled off to university with my friends I became known as the cook. It was my language, my identity, it was my way of making people love me. I couldn’t rely on wit, confidence, money or an inspirational personality. I was the cook that everyone loved … because I made stuff that made people feel good.

I had ten years of struggling with my weight. But I truly believe my issues stopped when I ‘let my mother go’. I let ‘her’ be ‘her’ and I stopped wanting nurturing, motherly love from her. Even with her Master’s degree in psychology.

I look at my friends – the cooks among them are often the ones that feel a desire to bring people together, through creativity and expression but also through a need to be loved. You make for people. You give.  You love. And they love you for it. You feel loved. Seriously, it’s a transaction that works.

It helps make your life meaningful.

Friends with two solid loving parents, with parents I envied, often approached the cooking game later. They didn’t need the approval of others. They had enough already.

Yes, I am a generalist, but when I talk with people, look at a chat stream on a blog or read books by people with actual eating disorders, it occurs to me that a larger proportion, much more than the low 50% stats that text books give – of ED sufferers nearly always state their lives include a difficult parent relationship or a sexual violation.

And I believe this just isn’t covered enough in traditional academic books you find in a library.

Is this because the academics don’t want to pick on the parents – because then the parents won’t buy the books? Regard a personal ED website and it is either difficult relationships with parents that can be anything from high pressure, perfectionist or overprotective types to kids struggling with alcoholic parents. And then there are the deeply heart wrenching stories of the girls (mainly but not always) that have been raped and/or abused (not necessarily parent related).

Who wants to deal with all that? Especially when it is the parents paying the psychologist fees and buying the books? Because most twenty or thirty-somethings with bulimia spend it all on food. There is no cash left.

To me the solution is intensely tricky. In its simplest form it is about forgiving the people who, in the earliest days, made you feel bad about yourself. Letting them go. This can include trying really hard to understand why they treated you like they did. Or why they didn’t treat you like you wanted them to. Accepting them. Sometimes an impossible ask. Especially if you live with them.

And then learn to love yourself.  To become a manufacturer of love and self esteem and joy for only you.  To mindfully change. To know that eating love will only destroy you, physically and emotionally.

How do you start the business of acknowledging that food will never fix that deep empty pit that those other people who grew up with enough love, will never know about?

This is the toughest addiction.  As tough as alcoholism and drug addiction, and just as damaging.  You better believe it.   And like an alcoholic or a drug addict – only you can change.

I can’t tell you that you are wonderful and you say ‘yes you are right’ and change your habits.

When we feel one of the bad feelings; guilt and anxiety, it can be because we seek perfectionism and control in ourselves. And our parents can be heartbreakingly critical – controlling and perfectionist.  Just differently.

Astonishingly, it can come down to genes – these are the same gene traits, just mixed different ways.

Oh the destructive irony. Frequently, so much of us is them no matter how hard we reject that thought.

Is it about the fact that our parents can nearly almost never be the perfect nurturing loving parents we need them to be? They are just human. So an integral part of this is accepting that parents can’t be perfect, often when they are just struggling to be one step up from their own parents who weren’t perfect either, when they themselves were children.

The same anxious perfectionist gene traits passing from generation to generation. Dads butting up against daughters.  Mums saying the wrong thing.  How can that not go wrong sometimes? How can the personality types most likely to end up with an Eating Disorder (ED) like bulimia – traits like obsessionality, anxiety, inhibition (which might also mean defensiveness) and perfectionism, not drive parents crazy? Particularly obsessive, perfectionist parents.

How can that not lead to ultimately anxious people with low self-esteem? Especially if you are ‘the difficult child’. Those very traits that should lead to success in professional life and major career advances can be the very same traits that can destroy a soul.

And all of us with children have a child that is more difficult, more challenging. Their drive, their innate selfishness to do and discover and be themselves, their unconscious rejection of the easier personalities we sometimes wish they had, make it hard to simply love them. And then what happens if they are an anxious child? Parents must love, limitlessly and non-judgementally. Love in a way that has nothing to do with success or achievement.

However sometimes parents fail. They just can’t do it. And maybe we need to accept that.

So how does a bulimic learn to love themself and not look for it everywhere else? Real, nurturing, comfortable love. That you may have never had before. This is such a foreign concept to so many of these girls that haven’t been close, I mean really close, to a parent. In that comfortable, gossiping about everything, knowing that you can say anything, kind of way.

I was once told by a dear friend and respected academic that yes, many of the gene traits above listed are present with all the other sufferers she knows – but there was something more. Something that went to the heart of every eating disorder sufferer that she knew. And it was so simple. It was this: Not believing that the ones you love, love you.

It was the loneliest sentence I have ever heard. And it leads to the loneliest lifestyle.

You believe you are unlovable.

And I know she was the ‘difficult child’, with tragedy thrown in for good measure. I also know that she is brilliant and smart and gorgeous and completely lovable. But for years, she didn’t think so. And that was all that counted.

So how do you learn to love yourself and accept that you are lovable? I’m sure for some people that word even hurts.

And for those who have suffered more deeply with abuse – this is even more deeply, profoundly difficult. How can it not be nearly impossible to climb out of an eating disorder that gives you a feeling of love when you stuff fat and sugar loaded food into you, even for a brief moment?

That is why women and men are out there in their 3rd decade of suffering. Possibly more.

How do you change the way you look at yourself? Is it impossible?

It’s about forgiveness, empathy, letting go of a need for approval, but also, intriguingly, creating a self-habit that means you can be kind to yourself (when the person you most want to look you in the eyes and just love you, won’t or can’t).

Let them go and focus on you.

The habit of putting food in your mouth and then disgusting yourself by purging when you feel anxious, unloved, stressed or bored is simply that. A habit. It’s simply a habit that the brain, who loves to control stuff, is controlling really, really well.

How do you teach your brain to change a habit that could be decades old?

How do you change your habits of mind to fulfil your basic need to be loved? Because it is a tricky, unknown thing this link between health, love and a happy soul.  Doctors and psychologists still don’t have all the answers. (Some do, but they are really hard to find).

Little by little, but emphatically.  Determinedly.  Sneak up on your addiction.  Trick it.  ‘Logic’ yourself into a new life.  Be mindful.  In little ways every day. Laugh at how mean you have been to yourself.  Because you deserve more.

It’s powerful – change your words and then change your brain – for example replace the negative word ‘stubborn’ to ‘determined’ and then pick out the word ‘grit’. Then go and look on the internet for the words ‘success and grit’ and you’ll see what I mean.

I have friends suffering, that barely mention their ED, bulimia, so great is their shame and guilt and self-disgust. But it isn’t just me loving them that can stop their habit. It helps, but it is not the key. It is them learning to love themselves. My hands are tied.

Whether it is anxiety that pushes the button into comfort eating, guilt or low self esteem – dieting is simply a trigger that leads to a heart breaking obsession with food, rather than the original cause. Fixing your food intake can never be the answer. I truly believe there is a back story behind every sufferer of this tragic life style. This story has to be examined, understood and let go, for change to happen to make the world of so many people we love, healthier and happier.

Do we really understand quite how much this struggle to escape the prison that is an ED, is about creating the empathy and then the brain habits that say: I am loveable, I am a good person, I deserve more? I think it is underestimated in a million ways.  How does someone who has detested themselves for years, slowly move from the habitual negative terms of disgust and self-loathing to explaining gently to themselves that they are not a bad person?

Every day, every hour and every minute.

Our brains simply adore a good habit. Computer games, smoking, picking your nose, standing on the bathroom scales. How do you reach beyond your brain into your heart? The solution will never be about physical stuff. It is about the heart, the spirit and self-love. Understanding the heart can help you change the habit.  And changing the habit can help you look at your heart, your ‘self’ in new ways.

And it may gradually dawn on you that you don’t deserve self-cruelty. That face looking back at you in the mirror is just fine. Be kind to it.

Love for you must come from inside you. Self-acceptance and self-esteem can’t be separate.

And nothing will completely destroy your habits of binging or purging until you find your own joy, your own meaning, your own happiness.

For every negative thought create a good thought. For every self-hatred try, search insist – on the logic that the people around you know – that you have a good heart and that you deserve more. The things you, do not make you bad. Step out of the noose. Be kind to yourself.

I was watching a fantastic Ted Talk on grit the other day and a phrase stuck (so I did a search and found a link here): ‘growth mindset’. Because your brain changes and grows in response to challenges. It mentioned something powerful: ‘failure is not a permanent condition’.

Learning to love yourself is more than idle navel gazing. It is a combination of hard work for heart and brain. Thinking, reasoning, and knowing that life is too short to be stuck in groundhog day.

The bank balances of big pharmaceuticals in their magical roundabout of drugs and more drugs don’t want you to feed your soul.

Being kind to yourself is a habit every happy person practices. And for a person with anxiety and/or low self-esteem, it is the most powerful thing you can do.

Every day, a kind word for every mean thought. Replace self-disgust with self-empathy. Replace shame with gentle acknowledgement that what you are doing today is not good for you.

Being kind to yourself are the first tiny, mindful steps that can help you get there.

Because, as they say in the classics, you have to get to the heart of the matter.

But I believe you are worth it.

Self love. Kindness. Nurture.

It has to come from within.

Open up your heart to yourself. Accept yourself. Love yourself.

Because that is the magic within happy people.

Imperfect, lumpy, content, happy people.

It is that simple.

 

 

Written for a beautiful girl.

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Bridal Registry Wish List – the top ten… in hindsight.

2013-03-03 013If I got married today what would be on my list?

After 13 years of marriage this week and 2 (mostly) fabulous kids, I was thinking about the things I had on my bridal registration list.  What was worth it, and what was a waste of time.

And the unasked for presents that have become everyday gems in my life.

And after all this time, the importance of a well equipped, efficient kitchen is reinforced to me with each year my children grow.

The food we put in our body becomes the nutrients that define our health and quality of life.  The food we eat affects our sleep, our intelligence and aptitude and how we socialise.  When we crave food it may be because we are eating too much sugar or carbs, I have been in this world where you can’t stop obsessing and this ‘want’ defines your every hour..    feeding myself addictive substances rather than the nutrition it seeks.   These days  I no longer have cravings.  Food affects us psychologically. And in many more ways than my example.

Food, or rather nourishment, is everything. It’s way up there on the scale of ‘what is important’.

Guys have tools in their sheds.  Some tools can be cheap, like a hammer, but some things need to be good quality, like a saw, so they can be sharpened and used for years.  Kitchen cookware is like that too.

And like tools, these things are not fashionable or hip, they are solid, enduring and something we use every day and every week.

Because, face it, Wedding Time is when you get the most money blown on your home, and on your future.

It’s a ‘once-er’. (Hopefully).

And sometimes it is hard to think past ‘what is gorgeous now’.  Because you may only see what is stylish, what you saw in that magazine last month and what your friends have.

I like to think about this: the French term for food is ‘nourriture’ – nourishment. Whilst the English term is ‘fuel’.

Our daily can should be so much more than fuel. Food should be joy.  And the better you cook, the more satisfied you are each time you sit down to a meal. So the better your day, your week your month and then each year, becomes.

Therefore, you enhance your life.  You make it better. And you keep learning and experimenting, in good, delicious, nourishing ways.

But please consider some suggestions from an old lady.

My absolute top 10 kitchen things to put on a wedding registration list. 

Practical things that will pay dividends to you when you have children, when winters are cold, when you have run out of cash, and when you get (even) better at cooking than you are now.

  1. Excellent knives and a commitment by one of you to sharpening the knives regularly.  Knives need sharpening like toothbrushes need changing.  And men are good at doing both…
  2. Cast Iron round casserole dish. A nice big one.  Cooking big meals and freezing a bit each time makes the best and healthiest fast food in the world.  Popular brands include Le Creuset.
  3. The best quality food processor you can afford. I didn’t used to use them much but once I started doing heavy family cooking and busted three stab mixers in a row from too much use, I became converted.  So we had to invest later.  And guys, a more expensive one usually has a better motor and won’t burn out.  It’s a tool.
  4. The heaviest steel frypan you can get. Make it heavy because then your steak cooks better and you don’t burn things after 3 minutes. I really don’t trust non-stick surfaces and this is the safest long term cooking implement you can buy.
  5. Best quality hand mixer/blender.  Look for one with steel bits inside rather than plastic bits that burn out after 2 ½ days. (Like the three I broke one year).  All your leftovers become soup.  And your kids eat spinach and parsley without realising.  At first.  It pays for itself very quickly.
  6. A big pot with a solid base.  Copper bases are the best.  And steel handles last the longest.
  7. A gorgeous stylish oilcloth tablecloth.  These look great but can get wiped down when every day is messy.
  8. Glass storage ware.  Buying in bulk saves money, particularly if you can buy organic drygoods.  And glass lets off less stuff than plastic.
  9. Microplane fine zester.  The best fried rice only has soy sauce on it and frozen ginger (I keep it in the freezer so it doesn’t go off) grated on your rice mix. Also the lemon zest from this stuff is so fine it makes everything gorgeous and zingy. Invented by a woman who kept stealing her husband’s woodworking rasp from the garage.  I tell you, these things are tools.
  10. A great BBQ.  However lots of people go for the flashest BBQ in the world but end up with a less outfitted kitchen.  A cheaper BBQ works just as well and you don’t need a rotisserie and a wok fryer.

The some other suggestions:

  1. A fridge with a big freezer.  The sooner you double the meals you cook and freeze a bit for busy nights the sooner you have money for fabulous holidays.
  2. A beautiful big salad bowl and salad servers
  3. A knife and fork set where there are no joins. Our knives have joins between the knife and the handle and are breaking already after only 13 years!
  4. Buying soup/dessert bowls:  you want bowls that stack well in the dishwasher because bowls that don’t stack well are a pain in the derriere… for the rest of your life.

Something I stopped wanting:  For years I wanted a gorgeous matching spice storage set.  Not anymore.  I cook with a lot of spices and I have come to love the different sized glass jars that hold different spices that I use in differing quantities.  For example I use tonnes of oregano but not much nutmeg.  And I like to collect interesting shapes so it makes my kitchen more interesting to me.

And something else for winter:  Over the years you realise one of you sleeps hotter and one of you sleeps colder.  The BEST answer for this is a mohair blanket.  I realised this at dinner one time with three sets of aunts and uncles.  They hadn’t realised but they all used mohair blankets because one of them slept hotter than the other.  The pure magic of mohair blankets is that they don’t slide off.  So have a single one in your favourite colour and you will love it till the ‘holes of love’ wear through.

(The mohair blanket and the le Creuset pot are the gems. Two of my most special possessions, gifts unlisted at the gift registry, items my kids will have to prise out of my cold, dead fingers).

I like to think about all these tools above, how important they have been and continue to be in everyday life.  Because when we haven’t had the money to go out for a nice meal, I could always make a rich stew or a wicked pudding.

And sometimes a flash dinner set may not age fashionably (remember that daggy one of Aunt Ethel’s?).  And it may hardly be used because it is ‘too good’.

What’s the point?

Everyday life is not about impressing people.  A beautiful practical casserole pot in your kitchen may say a lot more about your priorities in this fast world of fast food than a decadent set of plates you can barely afford.

When you are tearing around with kids you need good tools in your kitchen.

Not some darn statement piece.

So, what do you want in life?

Posted in Health, Kids & Family, Philosophy | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

So Tauranga residents can save on $ and recycle all our plastics like the 6/8 largest NZ cities?

I am a ratepayerliving around Tauranga & frankly, I am sick of my kids coming home and talking about recycling 3-7 plastics when Tauranga doesn’tactually do this.

And I really hate the legacy of landfill we are leaving for our future. So I conducted an investigation.  And the shame.  Oh the shame of my findings.:

The Tauranga City Council Ten Year Plan is up for review. (Please note submissions are due by 20th April.) Central to all decisions is the ‘Decision Making Framework’. Two of the top eight points central to ‘what we want our city to be like?’ Are (1) Clean, Green valued environment; and (2) Living Well, wasting less.

Out of the top eight cities in New Zealand, Auckland, Wellington, Hastings-Napier, Dunedin, Christchurch and Palmerston-North all recycle plastics no.’s 3-7.
ONLY Tauranga City Council (TCC) and Hamilton City Council do not.

Yet even Hamilton CC are considering the option, and it will be easier for them to implement because they already charge rubbish and recycle collection onto rates.

The big problem for us, is that TCC clearly state ‘No rates-funded inorganic waste collections to be undertaken’. (Section 9.2 TCC & WBOPDC Waste Minimisation and Management Plan).

What Council is failing to do is to communicate to local cash-strapped rate-payers that it will be cheaper to consolidate rubbish collection under one contractor, recycle ALL plastics 1-7, and, if council separates glass from plastics (ie. allows fortnightly collection so glass one week paper/plastics the other), the TCC will actually make money. Ie. it is in their best interest… just speak to little old
Dunedin City Council… AND RESIDENTS WILL NOT LOSE MONEY BY MOVING TO RECYCLING ALL PLASTICS.

For example: My mechanic in Tauranga, rubbish and recycle collection, currently pays $6.75 a week = $351 annually. He thinks he has a good deal.
Dunedin: $68 for recycle collection (taking the bulky 3-7 numbers reduces actual rubbish). If you then included 1 $2.10 rubbish bags a week = $177.20                            Hastings $145.20 and the cheapest is Palmerston North Annual total collection fee at $144.

No recycling? = 3 rubbish bags a week at $2.70 a pop costs you $421.20. Even 2 bags cost you $280.80 over a year.
And if, like most families, you end up with a big recycle bin and 1 rubbish bag a week it will cost you $208.40 over the year.

Tauranga residents are being ripped off – economically and environmentally. Our environmental management is NOT best practice in NZ.

All these city councils clearly state the charge in their rates, so it is not some sneaky rate increase. It is saving Tauranga residents money.

And with change you, the resident that stamps your foot up and down and can’t bear the thought of one more cent on your rates bill,  can look your kids in the eye and say you actually do care.

Just because the Tauranga Council have increased rates shockingly, it doesn’t mean we  should stick our heads in the ground.  Not at all.

For one annual lump sum of $68 (using Dunedin’s price) we can turn recycling around in Tauranga. (And I don’t see why thoughtful landlords couldn’t transparently include it in rent over the year ($1.30pw) – so that tenants don’t get a big nasty lump sum).

Tauranga’s Draft Ten Year Plan 2012-2022 is open for review, and in the full draft, Part A, pages 174-180 is the solid waste component. Their commitment to ‘progressive reduction of waste’ is a tiny 20kg (or roughly 3%) a year (but this isn’t on the plan it is on page 14 of the WBOPDC & TCC Waste Management and Minimisation plan (do Google) which is one and the same). At the moment our waste is growing at 15-17kg a year anyway. And most of the strategies are kind of, well, hopeful.

(When Taupo swapped to user pays rate funded recycling in 2002, it increased from 35% of households to 95% of households recycling, and they then are estimating by collecting no.3-7 plastics around 3 million containers additionally will be kept out of landfill! Note: Taupo has 100,000 less residents than Tauranga).

If you want to help change, make a submission. The more submissions they hear, the braver they will be at dealing with the barriers to achieving this (a) including recycling in the rates bill (b) consolidating collection under one contractor.

Here is the online submission form for you.

Whatever you say will help.

Best of luck helping our kids have a beautiful world to grow up into.

 

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Mark Lynas The God Species – I can’t agree with this GMO nitrogen fix

Mark Lyna’s chapter on nitrogen and the nitrogen boundary (unlike carbon, not crossed yet) reads well.  To put it simply and clearly (as he does): Every living cell needs nitrogen: It makes leaves green, constitutes an essential part of all proteins, forms enzymes, and helps encode genetic information in DNA and RNA.  Without nitrogen our crops would die in the fields and our children would develop the awful starved potbellies of African refugee camps.

What is so tricky about getting nitrogen naturally – is that it comes from two places; electrical discharge in thunderstorms and from nitrogen fixation from leguminous plants (peas, beans and clover).  The nodules on these plants work symbiotically with the soil to produce this very precious resource.

Then we went and created synthetic nitrogen from synthesising ammonia in 1909 which enabled us to create better explosives for war.  It wasn’t until after WWII that we turned to nitrogen to boost our harvests.  The Green Revolution.  And the famines of previous centuries faded into history.

And now – every agrarian economy is fighting another problem.  Massive nitrogen runoff into lakes and rivers is creating dead zones of algae blooms and water depleted of oxygen, something the species living in our waterways regard with less than enthusiasm.  And having created the stuff, nitrogen cycles again and again, from rain to fertiliser to nitrous oxide.  (The only way to get rid of it is to stick it to another nitrogen atom and then it becomes, as Lynas says, a trouble free gas).

So what do we do?  All over the western world farmers are reducing their fert applications and understanding that there are good ratios of fertiliser to plant growth to reduce runoff.  In countries such as China, from what I understand, farmers are still applying too much but cost benefit ratios should reduce that reasonably quickly.

But ultimately we still need to reduce our nitrogen load.  Lynas suggests that organic farming is not the way to go – we need too much land which will ultimately take land away from protected forests as we seek to feed ourselves with another 2 billion in the next 40 or so years.  Fair point and worth the debate.  I’d like to talk more about that one.

But when he says that selective breeding is ‘hit and miss’, but with genetic engineering that scientists can make precise and rapid changes by selecting a gene from any species and insert it into the target crop to deliver a more nitrogen-efficient and higher-yielding crop, well, I just get all hot and bothered.

Selective breeding is slower but still definitely safer.  At this stage in the GMO debate have you heard about horizontal gene transfer?  And of course vertical gene transfer (more likely)?  Do you know that GMO’s can cross the species barrier?  Do you know that when a ‘cassette’ of traits is inserted into the plant there can be a rearrangement of genes at the site of insertation and that this can cause thousands of mutations and random modifications throughout transgenic plants?  That you can get ‘recombination hotspots’ where virus’s inserted into plants (a common way of ‘getting the traits in the plants’ ) make the plant unstable and prone to causing mutations, cancer and new pathogens?

And GMO’s are ‘GRAS’ – generally regarded as safe?   You’ve got to be joking.  Go on, do a search instead of watching your favourite reality show.  This one is bigger.

What is wanting, what is profoundly wrong about the entire GM debate – is that the science that supports the applications for approval of GM across the world, largely comes from the companies seeking to sell the product.

And until our politicians are sophisticated enough to facilitate large scale independent institutions, funded by these behemoths but uninfluenced by their enormous hairy tentacles, we will continue to see health issues squashed by the marketing machine that comprises the GM lobby and corporations – rather than fully researched and understood.  It is not for our long term benefit right now, fellow travellers.

And while this is happening and precaution is thrown to the wind I cannot support GM.

I support the idea of technology taking us into the future but our governments have increasingly assisted (and/or legislated for),  industry to fund GMO research and release applications – removing the independence of universities and research institutions to promote a ‘compromised commercially funded model’.

The God Species is a must read for both left and right wingers, and has transformed my opinions on nuclear and has focussed clearly on the planetary boundary debate.

I believe Lynas has a point with developing nitrogen fixation technologies in plants, but as respected genetist Dr Mae-Wan Ho says, flaws in the regulatory system (at least in the USA and the UK) present a scientific ‘nightmare’ because there are at least a dozen studies showing that GMO’s are hazardous to human and environmental health.

We’ve got a long way to go.

Posted in Environment, Health | 1 Comment

Victory for Independent Science – GMO libel case

World-famous independent scientist researching the risks of GMOs wins libel case against biotech association fronting a concerted campaign to discredit and victimise him Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

Gilles-Eric Séralini, professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen in France, and president of the scientific council for independent research on genetic engineering (CRIIGEN), is a leading researcher into the risks of GMOs. Not surprisingly, he and his team became the target a concerted campaign of vilification, which included Monsanto, EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and scientific societies representing biotechnology in France: the French Association of Plant Biotechnology and the French High Counsel on Biotechnology (see [1]Defend Gilles-Eric Seralini and Transparency in GMO Risk Assessment! SiS 46).

This attach was triggered by the team’s recent thorough re-analysis of data submitted by Monsanto to obtain commercial approval in Europe for three GM maize lines, MON 863, MON 810, NK603, on which EFSA had given a favourable opinion.  In a published paper, the team concluded that the data “highlight signs of hepatorenal toxicity, possibly due to the new pesticides specific to each GM corn. In addition, unintended direct or indirect metabolic consequences of the genetic modification cannot be excluded.”

Séralini and his colleagues received massive support from scientists and civil society. But Séralini decided to sue for libel; he believed the researchers Claude Allegre, Axel Kahn, and Marc Fellous were behind the defamation and intimidation campaign in France and that is why he pursued Fellous, who chairs the French Association of Plant Biotechnologies (AFBV), in the courts. Séralini argued that the campaign had damaged his reputation, reducing his opportunities for work and his chances of getting funding for his research [2].

On Tuesday 18 January 2011, the court of Paris concluded the lawsuit and decided in Séralini’s favour, much to everyone’s surprise [3].

During the trial, it transpired that Fellous, who presented himself as a ‘neutral’ scientist without personal interests, and accused those who criticise GMOs as ‘ideological’ and ‘militant’, actually owns patents through a company based in Israel. This company sells patents to corporations such as Aventis. Seralini’s lawyer showed that various other AFBV members also have links with agribusiness companies, and so their scientific impartiality and integrity came under intense scrutiny.

The judge sentenced the AFBV to a fine on probation of €1 000, €1 for compensation (as requested by the plaintiff) and €4 000 in court fees.

Corinne Lepage, president of CRIIGEN, was delighted by the victory, as she stressed that she was not optimistic when leaving the first court session that had been held on 23 November 2010. ”One cannot any longer say whatever one wants about whistleblower,” she said. “It is the first time that a whistleblower is not on the defensive but on the offensive.”

Commenting on the court victory, Pete Riley of UK’s GM Freeze said: “We warmly welcome this judgement and are delighted for Professor Séralini. Let’s hope that we now see an end to the type of smear campaign we saw in this case and others over the last decade or so. Freedom of independent scientists to challenge the finding of scientific findings funded by an industry trying to sell seeds or chemicals is a vital element. The history of technological disasterstells us that industry and regulators are the last people to recognise and admit there is a problem. We fully support Séralini’s right to pursue his research on GM crops and wish him more power.”

Dr Brian John of GM-Free Cymru said: “This is a very gratifying outcome to a case which would never have been necessary had the GM industry followed long-standing traditions of respect for fellow scientists and honest debates with academics whose views, and research findings, do not coincide with theirs. For years now, the industry and its apologists have indulged in the vilification and intimidation of those who have the temerity to question the safety ofGM products… Some quite senior academics working for the GM industry have behaved more like thugs than scientists. Their philosophy has always been to “shoot the messenger.” Their list of victims is a long one: Arpad Pusztai, Ignacio Chapela and David Quist, Irina Ermakova, Judy Carman, Manuela Malatesta, Andres Carrasco, and many others.

“We congratulate Prof. Séralini for having the courage to stand his ground and fight back. Let’s hope his success will make GM multinationals and the regulators give independent scientists the respect that they deserve.”

More importantly, our regulators should take heed of Séralini’s findings and those of other independent scientists around the world in their persistent efforts to foist GMOs on the people.

Reposted from the Institute of Science in Society

References

1. Ho MW and Saunders PT. Defend Giles-Eric Séralini and transparency in GMO risk assessment. Science in Society 46, 4, 2010.

2. “Séralini vs Fellous: a GMO libel case over independent expertise and science” Corporate Europe Observatory, 9 December 2010,http://www.corporateeurope.org/agribusiness/content/2010/12/séralini-vs-fellous-gmo-libel-case

3. “Independent GM researcher wins court victory for defamation”, GM Free Cymru, Press Notice, 19 Janurary 2011, via GM Watch www.gmwatch.org

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New Zealand: Secondary schools, mobile phones and unsupported teachers


Every kid worships Steve Jobs.  And his comment?  Technology can’t fix education.

New Zealanders aren’t talking enough about mobile phones in classrooms.

Mobile phones can be great assets.  They are calculators, cameras, audio recorders and calendars.  They provide access to the internet for information gathering.  Great.

But what happens when teenagers have unfiltered access to the internet at school? What happens when they take inappropriate photos?  When cyber bullying happens during school time?   Who is responsible for this?

And if mobiles are used for information searches, as so many sites advocating use of mobiles in the classrooms proclaim, how does the teacher assist the child to properly screen for good and accurate content?  When there are 30 kids in the classroom? How does this work?

Schools cannot filter mobile phone content.  They can filter wireless content onto school technology.

And does New Zealand have a CIPA - Children’s Internet Protection Act?

A teacher in the Bay of Plenty laughed when I asked if every teenager had a mobile. Many children have 3, as all their friends are on different plans.  So all three phones are on the kids desks at school.  Or in the bag next to the desk.

School rules may clearly state that phones are not to be at school or in the classroom during a lesson, but in reality this does not happen.

This teacher is wary of taking phones from children and putting them in a safe place, as if the phone is lost ‘on the teachers’ watch’, it must be paid for personally.  What!

When did this change?  When I was growing up and if I brought something to school it was my responsibility.  If it got lost or broken I shouldn’t have taken it to school.

The teacher can only take a mobile phone in the hand and hold it there for the lesson.  School management will not back the teacher up if it gets lost.  Parents are angry and defensive: ‘my child needs his/her phone, you have no right to take it from them’.   This sounds like a pretty shortsighted policy, that doesn’t put education first.

There is not enough discussion on this subject.  A look at the internet finds a pro-mobile phone article in the Education Review with a survey sponsored by Vodaphone. Well, that’s not exactly unbiased.

1 in 5 children report cyber bullying.  And don’t get me started on social networking sites (and the amount of time kids spend on them Vs real information searches for homework related information content).

Distracted people don’t perform well. Every organisation understands that people need to manage emails and incoming information strategically, even texting is an issue in corporate meetings.   How can we expect teenagers to do any better?

I particularly think for kids under 15, this is insane.  These kids are too young to self regulate.  Whilst in the last 2 years it could be commensurate with increased seniority.  Maybe.

Steve Jobs on technology in schools:
“I’ve helped with more computers in more schools than anybody else in the world and I absolutely convinced that is by no means the most important thing. The most important thing is a person. A person who incites your curiosity and feeds your curiosity; and machines cannot do that in the same way that people can. The elements of discovery are all around you. You don’t need a computer. Here – why does that fail? You know why? Nobody in the entire world knows why that fails. We can describe it pretty accurately but no one knows why. I don’t need a computer to get a kid interested in that, to spend a week playing with gravity and trying to understand that and come up with reasons why.”

“You need a person. Especially with computers the way they are now. Computers are very reactive but they’re not proactive; they are not agents, if you will. They are very reactive. What children need is something more proactive. They need a guide. They don’t need an assistant. I think we have all the material in the world to solve this problem; it’s just being deployed in other places.”
Full excerpt by Daniel Morrow from the Smithsonian Institute here.

My husband has worked all his life in I.T..   We want our kids to do well at school, and we know that good quality teaching has a lot more to do with concentration, inspiration and hard work than it has to with online access.

To deprive a teenager of a cell phone results in major social trauma.  Yup.  Is this what it is all about?

Interestingly, a Massey University research project found that: “Past students interviewed agreed with school staff, in the main that cell phones, as social communication tools should not be distracters in formal school time.”   One of its conclusions was that schools need ‘positive attitudes towards cell phone usage and policy formulation’.

You will concentrate more and get better grades if you don’t look at your mobile and text message regularly during class.  That’s positive.

Parents do need more information to help them understand the consequences of one teacher with 30 kids with 30+ mobiles.  They need to understand it is not just their kid with one little text message.  Teachers need more support when they make decisions based on the entire class’s interest.

Discussion and debate needs to be comprehensive and open so parents can fully understand decisions that may have lifelong repercussions for their child, and their child’s classmates.

 

Disclosure: I am in the digital class Native(6).

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