Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Catching Water in a Cardboard Box

This morning I found myself thinking of the time a couple of years ago when the student house next door had a leak (or rather a gush!). We noticed from the outside and knocked on the door, first we had to explain about stop cocks and then find it and turn it off. When we went into the front room, which in our house is a living room and in theirs is a bedroom, water was gushing down through the light fitting and the boy (well he was 19 at least) had put a cardboard box underneath to catch the water! We had to first tell him under no circumstances to switch on the light and then tell him to find a container that would actually hold water...

I have always thought this a scary but funny story but this morning I find myself wondering if we are actually giving our children enough opportunity to actually learn things for themselves. When I worked in a pre-school children were given an abundance of opportunities for messy play but all done in a very controlled and contained way. I am now wondering why, for instance, did we not ask the children what containers the children thought would hold water and then let them try them out to see if they worked. What better way to learn that in fact a cardboard box cannot hold water and why and because they had tried it out for themselves rather than being told by an adult that it wouldn't work then the information would be more likely to stay with them for life.

Obviously you could not let them experiment with electricity...but there are many other scenarios that you could let them try out. For instance when making cakes why not let them try a batch with salt or without baking powder to see what happens - let them learn by mistakes but still in a safe environment. In the rush to look after and protect our children we sometimes forget that telling someone something (nagging or advising) is no substitute for actually leaning something for yourself!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The sound of silence

Mystic Spirals
Originally uploaded by pupski
I'm not sure that I believe in god but I do believe in the power of silence and stillness.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Eating Books

In an interview that I listened to on the Internet yesterday C. D Wright said that as a child she "ate" books. This was something that I really related to - as a child I ate books too. From the moment I could read I had an insatiable appetite for books - an empty gnawing hole that was never quite filled. I started with Dr Seuss and then I read my way steadily through the children's section in our local small-town library and when I had finished with that I started right on in on the adult section. I would eagerly await our rare trips to nearby Norwich on the Saturday coach and once there would be itchy and fidgety until we got to what for me was the goal of the trip - The Scientific Anglian secondhand book shop. Once there I could spend happy hours grazing the shelves in search of an Enid Blyton or two to add to my collection - the prices lovingly inked in little hand drawn squares on the paper covers. My only problem was how to choose - there were so many! At birthdays and Christmas any coveted money would immediately wing its way to the local book shop (until I discovered music!). I would spend pocket money wisely eking it out between the jumble sale book table and the second hand book stall on the Saturday market. Then there was the grammar school library - on the whole conservative, but I did manage to unearth a gem or two in my lunchtime rummagings. There were also the parental bookshelves of course: novels mostly belonging to mum - an odd assortment of sci-fi, poetry, horror and Australian outback detective stories. And later on to Shrubb Farm on its communal shelves an extensive library of literary gems culled from the 1960s and 70s: "The Family", "Drop City", "The Grateful Dead" plus other tasty nuggets for enquiring minds such as Carlos Castaneda and Aldous Huxley. It was a young readers dream. To this day my eyes just can't stop reading. I am constantly getting rid of books; selling them, taking them to the charity shop, giving them away, yet my shelves are overflowing and there are piles on the floor. The main problem is having time to read them all. There's so many ideas in the world - philosophies, novels, poems, travelogues, writing guides, autobiographies...I pick them up all the time in charity shops, second hand book stores, in sales, as presents - my appetite is insatiable - I am always wanting more.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


I thought it was yesterday and then discovered later that I was mistaken...