The Parental Intelligence Newsletter

December 2009

Hi, this is Bob Collier inviting you to 'explore the psychology of happy and successful parenting', connect with bright minds, discover new ideas and sail outside the mainstream for a while without running aground.

All that and more.

In this month's issue of the Parental Intelligence Newsletter there are links to 27 articles and 19 notices and items of news. As always, I trust you will find in my latest collection of parenting, education and personal development ideas and information from around the internet something that will make a positive difference to your life - and, through you, to the lives of your children.

Please scroll down to pick and choose whatever is of interest and useful to you.

Thank you for being here! I appreciate this opportunity to be of help to you in your parenting adventure and wish you all the happiness and success you would wish yourself.

See you next month!



"Just because something is easy to measure doesn't mean it's important." - Seth Godin


The Human Baby
by James Kimmel, Ph.D.

The human infant is a helpless creature at birth. He is virtually immobile, he cannot creep, walk, or speak, and is greatly limited in his ability to act with purpose. Unlike other primates, he cannot even hold on to or cling to his mother. He must be carried if he is to go from one place to another. Seventy-five per cent of his brain develops after birth. He cannot continue to live without the efforts of another human. He requires years of development before he can care for himself. A baby's helplessness and immature development requires a source of care. Nature has provided a source to match this need - the human mother.

Read more ...

Touch Hunger
by Ellen C. Braun

Perhaps the most effective way to determine the value of an idea is to determine the negative effects that occur when that concept is missing.

Let's examine the power of human touch regarding children and the accompanying effects that can result from insufficient physical contact.

Read more ...

Mature Parents Having Babies
by Ronit Baras

This year, when my sister had her first baby at the age of 41, we had a discussion about the oldest age that is still reasonable for people to have kids.

I had Eden at the age of 24 and I was convinced Gal and I were the first parents in our class, but last year, when we met our high school friends after many years, I was surprised to discover that some of them had kids older or closer to Eden's age. Since I had my first child 20 years ago, society has changed and 24 is now considered an early age to have kids in many places. Statistically, people now have fewer kids and start having them when they are older.

There are many advantages to having kids early, and as many disadvantages. Similarly, there are many advantages to having kids late, and as many disadvantages.

Read more ...

Out of the blue and in the pink
by Ben Goldacre, The Guardian

I love evolutionary psychologists, because the ideas, like "girls prefer pink because they need to be better at hunting berries" are so much fun. Sure there are problems, like, we don't know a lot about life in the pleistocene period through which humans evolved; their claims sound a bit like "just so" stories, relying on their own internal, circular logic; the evidence for genetic influence on behaviour, emotion, and cognition, is coarse; they only pick the behaviours which they think they can explain while leaving the rest; and they get in trouble as soon as they go beyond examining broad categories of human behaviours across societies and cultures, becoming crassly ethnocentric. But that doesn't stop me enjoying their ideas.

Read more ...

Growing shift in parental gender roles
by Teresa Garcia,

A new book explores how stay-at-home dads and breadwinning moms are transforming the American family. The book is called "The Daddy Shift." The man who wrote it believes the definition of fatherhood is undergoing significant change.

Read more ...

Money can buy happiness
by Kris Laroche

Money. Such an interesting thing. By itself, it means nothing. But what it represents is energy, so it makes many things possible. Not everything, but lots.

Read more ...

Social scientists build case for 'survival of the kindest'
by Yasmin Anwar

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are challenging long-held beliefs that human beings are wired to be selfish. In a wide range of studies, social scientists are amassing a growing body of evidence to show we are evolving to become more compassionate and collaborative in our quest to survive and thrive.

Read more ...

There is No "Throwaway" Behavior
by Patty Wipfler

One way of framing our Parenting by Connection approach is to say confidently that all of children's behavior has value. Everything a child does either helps him learn and grow, helps him recover from hurt, or serves as a Help Needed signal to those nearby.

The cultures we grownups have been steeped in are many and varied, but almost every culture is strongly biased toward seeing children's Help Needed signals as a nuisance, and children's recovery process-laughter, crying, and tantrums-as worthless, or worse.

Read more ...

Why I Believe that Attention Deficit Disorder is a Myth
by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D.

When parents hear me say that attention deficit disorder is a myth, they sometimes become very upset. They think I'm saying that their kids aren't jumpy, distractible, forgetful, impulsive, or disorganized. That's not what I'm saying at all. It's quite obvious to me that our nation's children have probably never been so hyperactive. The question is, what accounts for this? Is it a medical disorder called ADD (or ADHD as it's sometimes called)? I think not. I think instead that what we've learned to call ADD is instead a number of things all jumbled up together under this simplistic label.

Read more ...

The Plural of Leaf is Tree
by Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D.
Little Jennifer is a genius. Her grades in school are not nearly as good as those of her older sister, Jessica; but as far as I'm concerned, Jennifer has a much more impressive mind.

I certainly don't mean to denigrate Jessica. She is an extremely bright and conscientious student; and her straight A's in every class from kindergarten to junior high indicate that she has accumulated vast stores of knowledge and developed superb academic skills.

Meanwhile, Jennifer's scholastic performance has been a little spotty. She has always managed to bring home a better-than-average report card, but her occasional B's and C's have been accompanied by comments like "could do better," "should apply herself more," and "has a tendency to get distracted."

So if Jennifer is so smart, why is her record inferior to that of her sister?

Read more ...

Student-led learning at Calgary school draws interest from Down Under
by Sarah McGinnis, Calgary Herald

There are no bells at Bishop Carroll High School ushering students onto their next class.

There are no classes, for that matter, no timetables telling students where to be and what to study.

For almost 40 years, the southwest Calgary high school has embraced self-directed learning by allowing its students to individually decide how they'll tackle their high school studies.

Now, a team of Australian and New Zealand educators is visiting Bishop Carroll in hopes of transforming their schools in its image.

Read more ...

10 Secrets for Brain Bursts at High School
by Dr. Ellen Weber

Canadian Alanna Mitchell, this year's winner of the Atkinson Fellowship in public policy named brains as the secret to better schools. Not all agree.

Mitchell recalled a Minister of Education who asked a neuroscientist: "The brain? What does the brain have to do with education?" In my renewal work across many countries I heard similar surprising statements. Have you heard it?

Mitchell argues for centuries of scientific discoveries about human brains to be applied to teaching. From her award winning series on applying brain discoveries at school, here are ten key points to ponder with teens brains in mind:

Read more ...

Free to Be Me
by Gia Rae Winsryg-Ulmer

When you walk into Brooklyn Free School, you are first drawn to the "Big Room."  Most mornings, you'll see kids and staff serving themselves breakfast, reading the newspaper, having conversations about current events, movies, and books, and playing chess or card games. Twice a month, we gather here for our all-school democratic meeting.  Downstairs of the church building we lease, rooms are transformed into playhouses, fort villages, jam sessions, and dance parties. There's also a snuggle corner with a feather bed and pillows for curling up to read, and a writing area known as "the office." The sanctuary of the church is where many of the teen classes take place.  Morning classes include philosophy and math. Following our family style lunch, are afternoon classes, like Intro to Chinese, Black Studies, Art, Spanish, and Revolution. Welcome to our school.

Read more ...

School Pot Calling Homeschool Kettle Black - Acceptance is not taught in school
by Tammy Takahashi

I challenge the notion that public schools inherently teach kids how to deal with people who are from diverse backgrounds. In fact, I would argue that students in school who do not have an adult or groups of adults to model acceptance, are generally taught the opposite-to be wary of people who do not fall into the school-based idea of what is "right". And the worst of it, is that these school children and products of the school system are being discriminatory and judgmental all the while arguing that their way of thinking is somehow more accepting and open.

Read more ...

Teaching has nothing to do with technology...
by Leigh Blackall

The day I joined the school system I knew something was wrong with it. At the tender yet perceptive age of 5 I saw my fate and cried my eyes out for the entire first week. Gradually I found things to like - picking on girls, playing wars, fighting, swearing... At the age of 17, I was scoring pot and skipping class everyday searching for the relevance and authenticity that school had hidden so well. Every year between 5 and 17 is a tale of trouble and detentions.

Read more ...

Learning to Write By Doing It
by Wendy Priesnitz

I had a chat this morning with someone who was bemoaning kids' use of technology. Her fifteen-year-old daughter wants either a cell phone or a laptop computer for Christmas, she said, but she and her husband are worried that the teen won't "learn to write properly because of all that Facebook, Twitter and texting nonsense that young people waste their time on." I explained the unschooling philosophy that any writing done voluntarily is a good learning experience, but I'm not sure she believed me. So I told her about a study just out from the UK-based National Literacy Trust that should set her worries to rest. Instead of dumbing down literacy, this research shows that technology offers a variety of writing opportunities for young people. And it concludes that kids who have a profile on a social networking site or a blog enjoy and have confidence in their writing - two of the precursors for continued learning.

Read more ...

The World is Discovering Autonomous Learning
by Wendy Priesnitz

"Kids learn on the Internet in an autonomous way, by looking around for information they're interested in or connecting with peers who can help them. This is a big departure from how they're asked to learn in most schools, where the teacher is the expert and there's a fixed set of content to master."

I, and one of many thousands of unschoolers, have written similar things over the years. But this is a quote from a  prof at the University of California's Irvine campus. Mizuko "Mimi" Ito is studying kids' use of the Internet, digital media and social networking sites. Her work is supported by a $2.97 million grant from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Read more ...

Unschooling Attitudes I Wish All Families Would Adopt
by Dina

I know unschooling is not for everyone. Some people feel much more comfortable sending their children to a private or public school. Other families embrace homeschooling, but they prefer to have more structure via a curriculum. What works best for each family is the best choice for that family. I'm not sure if there's any right or wrong answer.

I do however wish that more families adopted certain unschooling ideals/philosophies. There's no need to yank every child out of school, but I do wish people would open up their minds a bit.

Read more ...

Unschooling Homeschooling - A Contradiction in Terms?
by Don Rodriguez

On the surface, it would seem that unschooling homeschooling is a contradiction in terms. However, when we consider the genesis of these terms and their present usage, it becomes clear that they are closer to being relatives than neighbors or enemies. The etiology of these concepts are quite interesting.

Read more ...

Free To Learn: Five Ideas for a Joyful Unschooling Life
by Pam Laricchia

You have a choice. Whether as parents you choose public, private, or alternative school, home or unschooling, the act of making a conscious, well-informed choice regarding your child's learning environment is a crucial step in your journey as their supportive partner in life. And remember, a choice made now is not cast in stone. You can change your mind as your experience grows and/or your circumstances change. I know I did. My children left the school system when they were nine, seven, and four.

Read more ...

Job Description for the Unschooling Parent
by Anne Ohman

We have always unschooled. Unschooling came easily to me and my family, because I learned early on to trust my heart and my children. But for those for whom unschooling does not come easily, I try to give them the guidelines you may be asking for here. If your question is "Please define my role as an unschooling parent," here's what I've come up with this morning:

Read more ...

Living and Learning as a Father in an Unschooling Family
by Drew Dorsey

Quite recently, at an informal unschooling gathering, I was introducing myself to two other fathers. In the course of the conversation, we discovered that all three of us were teachers. While the irony of three schoolteachers meeting at an unschooling event did not escape us, none of us found it altogether astonishing that we were all there. It does beg the question however, what is it about unschooling that has attracted three classroom teachers, who by all accounts love their jobs?

Read more ...

Mobile Cell Phones: Key To Learning Of The Future?
from ScienceDaily

In today's classroom, mobile phones are seen as a nuisance, but they can be the key to a new, personal way of learning, according to Prof. Marcus Specht of the Open Universiteit Nederland.

Read more ...

Sleep Learning -- A New Perspective
by W. R. (Bill) Klemm

A couple of decades ago, many people thought you could learn while you sleep. I remember as a college student playing audio tapes of information I wanted to learn while I slept. This idea turned out to be a fraud, perpetrated by people who sold sleep learning materials and equipment. Most "early adopters" found that all it did was disrupt sleep.

But as I have discussed elsewhere, modern research has compellingly shown that the brain is consolidating memories of the day's events during sleep. So, maybe the sleep learning idea is not completely dead.

Read more ...

Ads For Unhealthy Foods Increase Children's Consumption 45%
from PsyBlog

New psychology research demonstrates a direct effect of snack food adverts on increased consumption for both adults and children.

Read more ...

New tool provides food for thought for iPod users
from Boston Public Health Commission

The next time you're ready to download that song from iTunes, you may want to check out how healthy it is for you. Just as a nutritional label allows you to count the calories in a fast food hamburger, the Boston Public Health Commission's Start Strong Initiative has made it easier to measure what's in the songs you listen to. Today, the Initiative announced the Sound Relationships Nutritional Label, a new tool to help music lovers evaluate how healthy - or unhealthy - songs are.

Read more ...

How beliefs work
by Mark Tyrrell

In this article I'm going to talk about some of the ways in which people come to believe the things they do; how brainwashing works and the distinction you can make between belief based on emotional conditioning and knowledge based on real experience. When you understand how belief systems operate you gain a key insight into the behavior of people around you. And, of course, you gain some highly valuable self knowledge.

Read more ...


Neuro-Linguistic Programming: Liberating Parents

A new and different parenting book from Australian NLP Consultant and Life Coach Keith Gilbert.

"... this is what Liberating Parents is all about.  It is training for parents so that you can learn the essential processes for creating, maintaining and enjoying mental and emotional health and wellbeing. And when you have these skills and use them on a daily basis then you become a model for your children of a balanced, creative and free individual… which is exactly what you want for your children!"

My favourite parenting book ever.

Visit Keith Gilbert's Neuro Linguistic Parents website for more information

Join the Liberating Parents group at Facebook

How I Parent

A short and hopefully useful instantly downloadable FREE ebook about how I've parented my own children.

Read more about that here 

Guiding Stars of the New Parenting Movement

Be sure to download your FREE copy of my Guiding Stars of the New Parenting Movement ebooks while you're here if you haven't done so already.

These ebooks are FREE with my compliments and are packed with valuable insights and useful ideas to help you in your parenting adventure.

Volume 1 - an introduction to the work of Michael Mendizza, Robin Grille, Laura Ramirez, Jan Hunt, Pam Leo, Pat and Larry Downing, Alfie Kohn, Marc Prensky, Kali Wendorf and Jan Fortune-Wood:

Download it from here  

Volume 2 - an introduction to the work of Aletha Solter, Kim Wildner, Naomi Aldort, John Travis and Meryn Callander, John Breeding, Scott Noelle, Beverley Paine and Alan Wilson

Download it from here


"Founded in 2002, Kindred is committed to supporting you towards creating a more sustainable, just and child-friendly world.

Our articles are drawn from an internationally diverse team of writers and professionals on the front lines of their fields, exploring issues that impact our children, families and planet, ranging from education, natural birth, optimal child development, medicine, psychology, healing, spirituality, politics, relationships, family dynamics, natural parenting and global and environmental issues. We translate evidence-based material from neuroscience, genetics, biology, psychology, economics and sociology into a practical and understandable framework for making the best choices possible for you and your family."

Visit the Kindred website

Connection Parenting

Connection Parenting by Pam Leo is an outstanding parenting book endorsed by the Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children (aTLC).

Here's a review of  Connection Parenting from Vanessa Van Petten of Radical

BOOK REVIEW: Connection Parenting by Pam Leo

Parenting For A Peaceful World
"Robin Grille, author of Parenting for a Peaceful World, and also Heart to Heart Parenting, shares some profound information about children and parenting  practices around the world and throughout history."

A video created by Jacob Devaney for Culture Collective, narrated by Aja Swafford, written by  Robin Grille.

Watch it on YouTube (7mins 48secs)

Learn more about Robin Grille's work at

PhD in Parenting Most Popular Posts

"... exploring the art and science of parenting"

PhD in Parenting is one of my favourite parenting blogs. Here's a page listing its Top 20 posts:

Best For Babes

"Best For Babes is the only non-profit dedicated to giving breastfeeding a makeover and to revealing and removing the "booby traps"- the barriers to breastfeeding that keep tripping women up! New moms don't need more judgment, pressure, or to be discriminated against for nursing, they deserve to be cheered on, coached and celebrated! BFB is giving moms the boost they need to be successful.  We are elevating breastfeeding to a world-class cause and harnessing the power of celebrities, corporations, foundations, fashion, advertising, the medical community and the media to break down the barriers."

Read more about the campaign at

The Wildest Colts Make The Best Horses

The website of John Breeding, PhD.

"Providing services and resources for individuals, couples, families and groups on personal growth, human transformation, parenting, working with young people, and liberation from psychiatric oppression."


"At NLP4Kids we provide practical solutions to help children overcome emotional challenges, to increase confidence and self esteem and therefore enable children to reach a greater learning potential. Our workshops are designed and adapted from the effective techniques in NLP to help children to become better able to manage their own emotional states, to become inspired and motivated by the learning opportunities that are offered to them. The techniques we use are delivered in a way that is fun and comprehendible for children, encouraging them to co-operate more effectively with other students as well as improving their confidence and commitment when working individually."

Feeleez. A simple game about feelings.

This game is for parents, teachers, therapists or anyone who cares about fostering well-being for children. Used as a game or a tool, Feeleez grows empathy  and compassion, along with imagination and creativity. Made by the Natural Parenting Center (, Feeleez is sustainably  produced, made with recycled cardboard, soy-based ink and a re-usable tin.

Kris Laroche is looking for distributors in various regions around the globe. Help share Feeleez and become part of something that matters. Contact Kris at if you are interested in creating a meaningful business for yourself.

We Are The People We've Been Waiting For

"The world is changing rapidly - but our education system is not keeping pace. This landmark independent documentary, inspired and guided by Lord Puttnam and Sir Michael Barber, explores the education system in the UK and asks whether the current system provides young people with the opportunity to develop their talents. High-profile figures who share their personal experiences include Sir Richard Branson, Germaine Greer, Henry Winkler, Bill Bryson and Sir Ken Robinson. This thought-provoking film offers unique insight across generations and nations, and reveals a very inconvenient truth about education."

Thank you for that item to Ian Sharp

The Autodidact Symposium

"a gathering for self-directed learners"

Downtown Columbia, South Carolina, USA
March 12-14, 2010

"The Autodidact Symposium is a different take on the average unschooling conference. Our main focuses are the adulthood transition and the young adult years of unschooling; but similar to other conferences, we also cover the parenting and family aspects of unschooling, and have activities for children.

Our goals are to create social networks, introduce potential mentors to unschoolers, foster friendships, and help build joyful families."

Visit the website for more information

Raising Children Vaccine-Free, TV-Free, and Without School is a Viable Mainstream Lifestyle that is Gaining Momentum; It's Not Just for Fanatics and Zealots.

Unvaccinated, Homeschooled, and TV-Free: It's Not Just for Fanatics and Zealots
is a new book by Julie Cook of No Regrets Life Coaching. Here's the press release:

"For years the homeschooling, TV-free, and anti-vaccine movements have been regarded by most as lifestyles adopted by fanatics and zealots.  Mass media has  continued to portray families who choose these lifestyles as outsiders and oddballs, even though homeschooling has been growing at a rate of 7%-12% per year  and most homeschooling families are in the upper middle class with both parents having advanced degrees.

In her upcoming book titled Unvaccinated, Homeschooled, and TV-Free: It's Not Just for Fanatics and Zealots, Julie Cook describes the decision making  process, and reasons behind selecting this lifestyle for her daughter and family.  Julie Cook is a mother with three advanced degrees, working as a middle  manager for a large technology firm, with a decidedly mainstream life. 

In the book, Julie Cook recaps the research data and statistics surrounding vaccinations and explains that nobody makes money if you don't vaccinate and many  people and organizations will lose massive amounts of money if you decide not to vaccinate. Some of the statistics in the book include:

*  A study done in 1985 proved that adults who had natural measles had a decreased incidence of various cancers including cervical cancer.

*   In 1997, a report showed that a person who has received 5 or more flu vaccines is 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease (than a  person who has received fewer than 2 flu shots in their lifetime).

*   A New Zealand study disclosed that 23% of vaccinated children develop asthma, as compared to 0% in unvaccinated children.
In the TV-Free section, Julie Cook includes statistics and data linking obesity to TV viewing.  Some of the interesting TV quotes include:

*   I have prevented my kids from watching MTV at home. It's not safe for kids. (Tom Freston, former president of MTV).

*   If the television craze continues with the present level of programs, we are destined to have a nation of morons. (Daniel Marsh, 1950).

The homeschooling section outlines the author's top 10 reasons for homeschooling and not one of them has anything to do with politics, religion, the content  of what is taught, or the safety of the environment.  She discusses intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation as well as the merits of play-based learning. 

Julie Cook is the owner of No Regrets Life Coaching and Publishing. To find out more, please go to

New Tools for Personal Learning by Stephen Downes

"If you are interested in how new technologies are being designed in order to adapt to a rapidly changing and complex world take a closer look at Stephen Downes excellent presentation delivered to MEFANET 2009 Conference, Brno, Czech Republic."

View the presentation here

10 Power Tools for Lifelong Learners

From Open Culture - "The best free cultural & educational media on the web"

"These collections are all free, and can be downloaded to your computers and mp3 players. When you add it all together, you will find thousands of hours of free educational content here from quality sources."

Discover more about the tools at

100 Free Tools to Tutor Yourself in Anything

"While there is much to be learned from taking a course or finding a professional tutor, there are many tools out there that can help you learn just about anything you'd like to entirely on your own. With a little elbow grease, trial and error and dedication, these online tools can help guide you through the learning process step-by-step. Whether you want to learn how to renovate your kitchen or the intricacies of calculus, you'll find the assistance you need through these resources."

View the list here

Pink Stinks

"Pinkstinks is a campaign and social enterprise that challenges the culture of pink which invades every aspect of girls' lives."

Find out more here

And finally ...

Two old articles

Years ago, I wrote a few parenting articles. Not my forte. But here are two recently rediscovered articles that I think might still be worth reading:

What I Believe About Parenting

How to Cut Out the Middleman on the Road to Academic Success

Thank you for reading the Parental Intelligence Newsletter!

The next issue of this newsletter will be published on or about 16 January 2010

Subscribe now and stay in touch

Copyright © Bob Collier, except where indicated otherwise

Published by Bob Collier, Canberra, Australia  

Email: bobcollier[at]parental-intelligence[dot]com 

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