The Parental Intelligence Newsletter

April 2010

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 52 article links, 4 audio links, 7 video links and 10 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.

Please note that from now on the Parental Intelligence Newsletter will be published fortnightly.

See you next time!



"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - Buckminster Fuller


Giving birth, the natural way
by Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

Every birth is a miracle, of course. But the arrival of Lily Luck-Henderson, just after midnight last Tuesday morning at the General campus of the Ottawa Hospital, was something else as well.

Lily was breech, as are about four per cent of babies, meaning she emerged from her mother's womb bottom first, rather than head first. But, unlike most breech babies born in Canada in recent years, Lily was delivered vaginally, rather than by caesarean section.

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Laureen Hudson

Birth Safety as a Binary Condition
by Morgan A. McLaughlin McFarland

"Your baby is healthy and that's all that really matters."

How many times have you heard it or some variation of it? How many times have you said it or something like it?

When did "didn't die" become our only barometer for success in childbirth?

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Authentic Parenting

New research shows babies are born to dance
from Physorg

Researchers have discovered that infants respond to the rhythm and tempo of music and find it more engaging than speech.

The findings, based on the study of infants aged between five months and two years old, suggest that babies may be born with a predisposition to move rhythmically in response to music.

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Rick King via the Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children

It's not about picking on moms, it's about breaking down societal barriers
by PhD in Parenting

I'm getting tired of hearing the same old thing over and over again. Every time a study comes out that talks about the benefits of breastfeeding, whether it is the benefits to the child, the benefits to the mom, or the benefits to society in general, people get their noses out of joint. They say things like "don't make moms feel guilty for formula feeding" or "quit picking on moms who don't breast-feed".

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Are tears at bedtime REALLY good for babies?
by Pinky McKay

Last week I was invited to an interview with Kerri Anne (for you non Australians, this is a national morning TV show). The interview was about newspaper headlines that boldly claimed, 'Tears before bedtime good for mum and baby.'

There is some new research about to be presented that advises controlled crying is not harmful. Before you all jump up and down and, with all respect to the researchers, the newspapers made claims that need some sifting through.

Read more ...

Eight Dangerous Myths About Spanking
by Debra L. Stang, LCSW

This article examines and refutes some of the most common myths about spanking. It may be reprinted in its entirety if credit is given to the author and a link is provided to Project NoSpank at

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Shannon Burton

Spanking sparks aggression, does little to reduce behavior problems
from Physorg

Discipline -- whether it's spanking, yelling or giving time-outs -- may sometimes do little to reduce children's behavior problems, a new study indicates.

Researchers at the University of Michigan and five other universities looked at practices and perceptions of discipline in six countries. They found that spanking leads to more child aggression and anxiety, regardless of the country.

Read more ...

The Situation of Self-Control
from The Situationist

Meredith F. Small had a very interesting article,"Losing It: Why Self-Control Is Not Natural" in a recent issue of LiveScience.  Here are some excerpts.

Read more ...

When a Parent's 'I Love You' Means 'Do as I Say'
by Alfie Kohn

More than 50 years ago, the psychologist Carl Rogers suggested that simply loving our children wasn't enough. We have to love them unconditionally, he said - for who they are, not for what they do.

As a father, I know this is a tall order, but it becomes even more challenging now that so much of the advice we are given amounts to exactly the opposite.

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"Because I said so" vs. "You're not the boss of me"
by PhD in Parenting

We all know that children very frequently want to do things that their parents don't want them to do. But when mom or dad says "no," what makes kids likely to listen and what makes them likely to disobey?

Read more ...

Life as Performance
by Teresa Graham Brett

As babies and children who grow up in a culture that embraces power and control over others, we learn that in order to maintain the love and acceptance of our parents and other adults who care for us, we must often push down our own feelings and needs. We learn to perform for others so that we can get some of our needs met.

A series of events related to Martel's choice to study budo, a Japanese martial art, had me thinking a lot about what it means to perform when we choose to as opposed to when we feel compelled.

Read more ...

Fussiness or Happiness
by Ronit Baras

Sometimes, when I give my business card to people, I get this odd question, "Are you always happy?"

It is a valid question and I think that people who ask it probably think this is the meaning of happiness, which makes me wonder why they do it to themselves. You see, some definitions of happiness are too tough, meaning it is hard to achieve them, and I would much rather have a definition of happiness that is easy to get.

Read more ...

Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss: Best Parent Qualities
by Ronit Baras

Like in every job, where your qualities determine how well you perform, the parenting "job" has its own set of qualities it requires. The "job" called parenting is different for each person therefore may require a different set of skills. I have asked the top parenting bloggers to list the best qualities every parent should have.

Here is what they wrote.

Read more ...

Mothering With Confidence
by Jessika Bailey

I am sick of reading and hearing that AP/natural moms think they're superior, or that we make so and so feel bad, guilty, or inferior.  I don't think that is the case at all.  If anything the amount of confidence a mother creates and possesses when she does her research, and digs and digs, and reads books, and reads studies, and makes more informed compassionate decisions regarding her children is too much for some people to handle.

Read more ...

Opportunities of a Work-at-Home Dad
by Ronit Baras

I am writing for all the dads reading this blog and also for all the moms in hope I can make a difference.

You see, when dads are not around for so much of their kids' life, they miss something essential.

Read more ...

Doing Two Things at Once
or, Leaning on a Truck and other parallel play
by Sandra Dodd

Women talk face to face, they say, but men lean side by side on a truck. Another version of leaning on a truck is fishing: facing the same way, doing the same thing. Traditionally these days parents and children move in different spheres and do different things, but unschooling families mix ages and activities.

What can be the model of parent/child interaction?

Read more ...

Recent Studies Emphasize the Importance of Childhood Play
by Suzie Boss, Edutopia

Childhood play is coming under increasingly serious study. Recent reports underscore the importance of kids' play to address childhood obesity, build social skills and problem-solving abilities, and unleash creativity. Here are summaries of some of this research ...

Read more ...

Is unstructured play too dangerous?
by PhD in Parenting

Kids need to be kids. Sure, there are some easy things we can do to make them safer, like putting bike helmets on them when they are riding a bike, making sure there is a soft landing below large play structures, and so on. But prohibiting or carefully supervising goofing off? That is too much.

Read more ...

I Let My Kid Play Violent Video Games
by Andrew Leonard

My 12-year-old son, Eli, is an avid gamer. The TV no longer interests him. Cartoons are relics of a vanished civilisation. When his daily allotment of screen time rolls around, he makes a beeline to the computer (or the Xbox 360, or his handheld Nintendo DS, or his new phone) and starts blasting away at his legions of enemies.

Read more ...

Girls abandon dolls for Web-based toys
by Lini S. Kadaba, Philadelphia Inquirer

Paige Gabriele loved her dolls - once.

At age 8, however, the Swarthmore girl has largely abandoned them. Even Barbie gets slim face time, and the single American Girl doll, a gift from her grandmother, sits pretty on her bureau - untouched.

Read more ...

Keep Watching Your Kids Learn
by Jenny Williams

It starts when they're born. They learn to smile. They learn to laugh. They learn to roll over, sit up, talk, feed themselves, crawl, walk, run. New parents dote on their babies and toddlers, squealing with joy during their cheerleading efforts. Every parent does it. But somehow, those squeals fade with time, and after a while we don't get as excited when we witness our kids learning something new.

Why is this? How is finally learning the multiplication tables different from learning to walk? Is it because it isn't a physical achievement? Is it because it's harder to witness the steps that were taken to comprehension, since they occurred inside your child's mind?

Read more ...

Yoda on learning, "You must unlearn what you have learned."
by Greg

There are numerous applications for this line that can be applied to various areas in the field of education and the process of school. I am going to apply it to those seen as leaders in the act of rethinking school. I know, some would argue that it more aptly applies to those that are dragging their feet or maintaining the status quo. That would work too, but here is why I think it applies more accurately to those who are at the front edge of changing school.

Read more ...

If you care about learning, first care about food
by Clark Aldrich

How a school (or other place of learning) views food sheds a lot of light on how it views education. And the other way around.

Read more ...

IQ: Misunderstood and Misused
by Joe Bower

Reflecting upon one's beliefs can be a very productive use of time, and I can think of no better time to do so than when we have come to mindlessly accept something as a given truth. When questions are no longer answered because questions are no longer being asked.

Intelligence-quotient (IQ) tests are a great place to start.

Read more ...

Let's get rid of spelling bees to promote literacy
by Steve Kaufmann

Spelling bees are a major part of a literacy awareness campaign in Canada..

The campaign is called "Raise a reader" . A newspaper chain and our Post Office sponsor this campaign.

To me this is largely a waste of money. Only the very best readers will bother getting involved in this, and I really do not think that knowing how to spell a bunch of obscure words is that useful a skill.

Read more ...

Math is a dangerous subject to teach
by Joe Bower

Math is a dangerous subject to teach in today's high-stakes testing accountability environment. It's dangerous because it is the kind of subject that can be used to create right and wrong, black and white kinds of assessment tools. I'm talking specifically about multiple choice exams.

Read more ...

Kids Learn Math Easily When They Control Their Own Learning
by Peter Gray

Math is that school subject that we can't BS our way through. That's one thing that makes it so scary to so many. There are right and wrong answers to every question, no partial credit. It also seems to many people that math performance reflects basic intelligence. To do badly is to come across as logically inept, so fear of failure is even greater in math than in other school subjects, and fear of failure always inhibits learning. I suppose the reason math counts so much on the SAT and ACT college admissions tests is that people think it is an index of general reasoning ability. But they are wrong.

Read more ...

Classroom Creativity
by Jonah Lehrer

Everybody wants a creative child - in theory. The reality of creativity, however, is a little more complicated, as creative thoughts tend to emerge when we're distracted, daydreaming, disinhibited and not following the rules. In other words, the most imaginative kids are often the trouble-makers.

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Linda Dobson

Why Teachers Should Not Be Pushing Creativity
by Aaron Eyler

I believe that it is our job, as educators, to provide students with an environment where they are allowed to be creative and take risks without fearing the penalties of failure. I do, however, question our ability to assess whether something is creative or not and whether our assessment should count for anything when it comes to student learning. This isn't to say we can't observe student creativity and commend them on what we deem creative (or should we?), but it doesn't seem logical to me that we should ever allow for creativity to count for, or against, a student grade. For all of you who think that making "creativity" a component of assessment in a student grade spurs creativity I am about to convince you otherwise.

Read more ...

The problem with infinity
by Joe Bower

In his book The Dip, Seth Godin writes, "the problem with infinity is that there's too much of it." He ends up talking mostly about business and markets, but his point is not lost on education.

The trouble with focusing on content as the primary role of education is that there is an infinite amount of stuff to know.

Read more ...

The Ugly Truth of What We Teach In School
by Aaron Eyler

Dr. Scott McLeod recently wrote a post that discusses what information is really relevant and necessary for students to know in the age of hi-speed internet. This is the type of question and discussion that troubles me because teachers all over the country truly believe that knowing every single concept for their subject is necessary for students to be successful. Guess what? Research performed by Herman Ebbinghaus suggests that people forget 90% of what they learn in a class within 30 days and "most" of it within hours. Consider what this research suggests and the implications for what we teach and the degree of magnitude we place on individual concepts and ideas.

Read more ...

It's Time to Replace Schools with Learning Opps for Everyone
by Linda Dobson

We can only guess if there was an equal amount of consensus against schooling before the Internet and social media. Regardless, today that consensus is obvious. The once lone voices of homeschool advocates sharing "a better way" are joined today by students, parents, journalists and, yes, even sometimes teachers who are still tolerating the government school system. A series of podcasts titled "School Sucks" has 1500+ fans on Facebook. S.C.H.O.O.L (the acronym standing for either 6 or 7 Crappy Hours of Our Lives depending, I guess, on where one lives) has 682,719 and 833,911 Facebook fans respectively.

Read more ...

We Know How to Learn…Until Schools Gets in the Way
by Wendy Priesnitz

I'm often bemused to read how important it is that children "learn how to learn." It seems to be the phrase du jour among self-described progressive educators, book authors, school critics, and those who promote ever-earlier attendance at pre-school institutions. Some young children might be able to be trained - in dog-like fashion - to sit still, listen, memorize and regurgitate. Aside from the criminality of taking their childhood away from them, that training has nothing to do with teaching them how to learn. It would be more honest if we admitted that it's a rationale for congregating kids in a supposedly safe place so their parents can do other things.

Read more ...

Children learn unevenly, even backwards
by Clark Aldrich

The industrial school model is that of even progress. There is the first grade. Then there is the second. Then the third. Each grade has a set of topics. Students are expected to build their knowledge in parallel across a variety of topics in a linear and additive way.

The reality could not be more different. Learning, knowledge base, and learning ability, is wildly different from student to student, and month to month.

Read more ...

The Real (Secret) Reason People Decide to Educate Their Own Kids
by kelly green and gold

Soon after our family started this home education journey, sixteen years ago now, we had a very strange summer. My husband lost his job because another trader in his department had been hiding a $20 million loss for a number of months (sounds piddley now, doesn't it?) and so the bank decided to fire the whole trading department in Canada and move operations to New York.

Both boys (we only had two then), ages four and six, came down with whooping cough that summer, in spite of vaccinations. The oldest, known for the purposes of this blog as Basil, coughed himself into vomiting several times a day. So, in order to deal with my own anxiety and the boys' illness, we spent that summer reading all of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books.

Read more ...

More Than the Absence of School
by Wendy Priesnitz

A number of people have recently asked me questions about our family life back in the 1970s and 80s. And I realized that, in all of my books and articles over the years, I haven't written much about that. So here goes!

Read more ...

Looking Back Over 20 Years
by Alison McKee

Our family first considered homeschooling as an alternative to traditional school after I had read an interview of John Holt in Mother Earth News. At that time David, my husband, and I were convinced that Holt's views of children's learning were "right on." Holt's ideas seemed as though they'd be so easy to implement.

Today I look back on such thoughts and I realize that we didn't even come close to comprehending the complexities of implementing such radical ideals. How could we? Although we knew we wouldn't use curriculum or aspire to maintain grade level pace for our children we still thought in those terms. Like most parents of preschoolers we were concerned about issues of socialization and how our children would continue to learn. Obviously, even at that early stage of our homeschooling experience, our traditional educational expertise was infiltrating every aspect of our thinking. It has taken us nineteen years to learn otherwise.

Read more ...

Empowered Learning: Unschoolers Are In Charge of Their Education
by Anna Hoffstrom

Unschooling can look like the lazy way out.

Compared to unschooling, schools require dozens of teachers and faculty, all with their own specializations, to make sure the school runs properly. The same level of complexity is impossible to replicate at home. There's simply too much to do for one family to be responsible of.

The truth is the complexity is unnecessary, and even harmful.

Read more ...

Ten Unschooling Myths Debunked
by Kristina B

Unschoolers see learning as a natural result of living that needs no force or requirements. Families that choose to unschool believe that children are naturally driven to learn about the world they live in, and when given the right balance of guidance and freedom they are more than capable of doing just that.

Read more ...

You Might Be an Unschooler and Not Even Know It
by Paige

When I first realized that homeschooling was an option I was only 15 and the concept totally called to me.  I just knew that was what I wanted to do with my kids.  At the time, many people still had never heard of it and the bookstore had only one or two books.  Now, of course, Libraries have homeschooler programs, bookstores have whole sections, and almost everyone know what homeschooling is (and has an opinion on it).

Read more ...

How to Trust Children Who Stare at Gorillas
by Heather

Learning is presented to us at age 6 (sometimes younger) as a passive activity.  We sit and we listen, we do as told and we learn.  The moment we go from child to student (of compulsory schooling) we've been placed into the backseat (and by "placed into the backseat" I mean thrown and locked into the trunk) of the car.  12 or 13 years later, we're told to get out and drive.  Say what???

Read more ...

The Best Unschooling Tool: The Internet
by Anna Hoffstrom

In the past 20 years, the internet has revolutionized communication, news, and marketing, and affects the everyday lives of people all across the globe. It's created a world wide peer network that can communicate in seconds. Because of the internet, a wealth of information is now accessible to billions. It's the perfect tool for self-directed education, and that is exactly the kind of activity the internet promote

Read more ...

Computer Games and Books are about Equal
by Clark Aldrich

As a whole, most people are pretty comfortable putting moral virtual [virtue?] on reading, and moral failing on playing computer games. In truth, they are about equal. From a cultural and "useful in development" perspective, the best of each are of comparable worth to a student today. Likewise, each have their terrible and harmful examples.

Read more ...

Modern Technology and the Return of Oral Communication
by Rob de Lorenzo

One could easily make the claim that when it comes to communication, the rise of modern technology beginning in the early 20th century has ushered in a resurgence in the use and importance of oral communication skills. Prior to the development of writing, oral communication ruled. Writing, a technology in and of itself, changed society radically in that it allowed people to communicate with other people over vast distances of both space and time.

Read more ...

The Medium is the Message: Educating Generation M
by Yong Zhao

Today's young people (8 to 18 year olds) spend on average 7 hours and 38 minutes a day with media: watching TV (TV, videos, DVDs, pre-recorded shows), playing video games, listening to music, talking on the phone, and chatting with friends online, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation report Generation-M2: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-olds released on January 20, 2010.

Read more ...

Colleges embrace MP4 technology for delivering instruction
by Dennis Carter, eSchool News

Four universities are giving students the chance to complete certificate and degree programs by downloading class material to mobile devices like iPhones and iPods in a distance-learning initiative that one day could be commonplace in higher education.

Read more ...

Wow. Global University Extends the Reach of Higher Education
by Linda Dobson

The edupunk movement recently moved up a notch with the entrance of the world's first global tuition-free online university. University of the People (UoPeople) is a non-profit venture-supported by the United Nations-that embraces the worldwide reach of the internet and dropping technology costs to bring higher education to people who would not otherwise have access to it.

Read more ...

Mobile Learning Starts to See Another Roadblock Removed
from m-learning is good

Most organizations, whether public or private sector have begun to acknowledge that our cultural move to mobility is not a fad, it's a reality and it's here to stay.

Read more ...

Is New Media Incompatable with Schooling?: An Interview with Rich Halverson
by Henry Jenkins

Digital media provides a path to personalizing and customizing learning that is often at odds with the batch processing model of, especially, K-12 schooling. This has meant that digitally literate young people have come to understand that there are at least two living channels for learning - 1) an institutional channel, and 2) a peer-driven, interest-driven, and unregulated digital media channel. The bifurcation of learning experiences for young people is bound to call the institutional identification of schooling and learning into question in the coming years.

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Stephen Downes

Farewell, Keyboard - Generation I Will Grow Up on Touchscreens
by Sarah Perez, ReadWriteWeb

The analysts at Gartner must have been fairly impressed with the Apple iPad because their latest research report predicts that over 50% of the computers purchased for children will have touchscreens by 2015. In this case, Gartner defines children as those under the age of 15 or, as we like to call them, "Generation I." (This is the new, hipper terminology for children of the 2000's once dubbed "Generation Z" or "digital natives.") They're the ones born into a world where computers and cellphones are introduced as baby toys, where the iPod has always existed and where everyone they know can be found on Facebook. And now, it seems, they're going to grow up with computers in an entirely different way, too.

Read more ...

Are your kids happy? Then let them be!
by Evan Lenz

Whatever style of education your kids are receiving right now, whether it's homeschooling, unschooling, democratic schooling, private school, public school-honestly ask yourself this question: Are they happy? Are they thriving and growing and loving life? If the answer is yes, don't change a thing.

Read more ...

The Antidepressant Industry's Dirty Little Secret
by Mark Tyrrell

Is it really possible that a multi-billion dollar industry is founded on nothing more effective than a sugar pill?

Read more ...

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