The new school year starts with that optimism that is potentially infectious. Our children love learning and helping them learn is the primary job of their schools. The challenge is to present a plan and educational approach that brings the best out of all our children. How we do that is not as important as the philosophy of the system. The primary tool is between our ears.
The training of our bodies for athletic improvement is one of ever greater physical challenge and our brains are just another muscle. Only via challenging exercise can we have growth. The current obsession with providing advance programs in schools is commendable, but is missing the point of advanced programs. The focus as devolved into an attempt to promote and glorify the early learners. We are missing the biggest lesson of advanced programs. Our children can handle the challenge. What is missing is the capacity of the system to provide challenge to all our children. All our children will excel if we provide the challenge needed to grow their brain capacity. The is no genetics that provides advanced learning skills. Those skills are a result of the milieu to which our children are exposed. If expectations are high for all our children and the bar is set high for all we can achieve great things.
The constant excuse is that children arrive unprepared. It is a poor excuse. The function of school is to mold and challenge the brains of our children. How we express that challenge is less important that the fact that challenge is provided. The goal is to provide a platform of learning. The current en vogue system is for bringing computers into our schools. Computers are a commendable introduction and like with all tools the approach to their use is the only important factor. The hardware should be cost-effective and our children should be allowed to break and repair them. Learning how to take care of the hardware develops confidence in a meaningful way. If the cost of the systems are low it provides the system with savings that can be better applied. Learning is about having the confidence to explore and fail. Failing in a supportive, constructive environment is where the most learning takes place. Failing at tasks in a system where the expectation is that all will succeed is the real challenge all our children need this new school year. Working hard to overcome failure is the best part of school. Let us provide that safe environment for success for all our children.
Our children are our most important investment and their well-being is our primary responsibility. How we get them from helpless to confident and self-sufficient is our primary task. I am currently on that journey with my two beautiful daughters and hope I am doing the correct things to create wonderful members of society. These are my guide posts:
1. Create confidence
Give them confidence by allowing them to succeed and fail early. There is nothing like accomplishing physical tasks to give confidence. My girls have never been restricted by age guides. We have allowed them to challenge and master anything they would like to attempt. Many times they fail but it is only in failure that we learn how to succeed.
2. Make learning fun
We strive to make every experience a learning opportunity. I hate structured learning, that is not where most of our learning occurs. Most importantly, answer all their questions (much easier said then done).
3. No baby talk please
When my girls speak others are often amazed at the depth of their vocabulary and general language skills. Those skills are not coincidental. We talk to them in adult language and provide definitions as needed so that they have early exposure and reinforcement of appropriate language.
4. Early introduction to technology and science
My girls are 3 and 4 and both know their way around a computer. They both have been introduced to programming. The 4-year-old gets it and is an intuitive problem solver. The 3-year-old is not there yet but she is learning about computers and always want to program. They love seeing the effects of their work. They remind me daily that they need to program. We are on code.org most days and I am the one limiting their time.
5. Respect others and the planet
Letting them see us showing respect to others and nature gives them a sense of their place in the universe. We are here to take care of the planet which is not limited to our fellow primates.
Our child are willing and able to learn and accomplish so much more that we give them credit for. We need to unleash them. In the rapidly changing world we live in, the only skill that will guarantee success is adaptability. Exposing our children to as many learning opportunities as we can will prepare them well for the challenges ahead.
As a society we have and continue to be beset by many addictions. Some of these are more problematic than others. The essential question is what constitutes a tolerable addiction. I suggest that we have a highly immortal relationship with addicts and addiction in general. I further suggest that if we truly examine the definition of addiction we would quickly reconsider our methods. I hope you will at least consider a re-examination of our cultural stand.
The essential addiction of affluent societies is affluence itself and the indulgences that are attendant. The most problematic of which is our addiction to poor food choices. We all know what best food practice is but we have not organized our cultures to make those choices palatable or convenient.
The road to affluence is paved by a brisk market of buyers and sellers that provides goods and services at optimal times, place and cost. The pressure to succeed in the marketplace can led to dubious choices, both from the point of view of the producer and consumer. Market pressure has not so far encouraged the easy and convenient availability of healthy choices. The problem here is that the market is about maximum profit, not healthy choices. Furthermore, the consumer does not know how to influence the availability of better options. This juxtaposition of circumstances has led to the situation we are in today.
We are indulgent to the death of us. We eat poorly and excessively. These choices are not accidental. We continue to consume excessively in spite of the consequences of obesity and poor health. This is the definition of addiction. I suggest that out most problematic addiction is to food. Let’s start addressing this addiction by closing our mouth and using our dollars more prudently.
Humans are curious creatures. We do not seem to see the conflict in our nature. We want all the best things without putting in the required effort. We answer the hard questions with easy platitudes and self-serving mumble-jumble. The essentials are ignored for the comfortable. The danger is that those answers will and have started to create a false uncertainty. There is no uncertainty. We know what needs to be done.
Do you know what needs to be done for a healthy life? Many of us will answer no, but that is an intellectually dishonest answer. Most of us know what needs to be done but we have refused to do the heavy lifting. Furthermore we have created a society where doing the correct thing is not rewarded. Poor choices are praised and the better choices are stigmatized. The bulk of our daily routine encourages mediocrity.
A recent study has quantified the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. The behaviors that define a healthy lifestyle were defined as daily exercise, low body weight, low alcohol intake, not smoking and a healthy diet. How difficult is that? We have known the necessary ingredients for a long time. Our question is, when will we adopt and internalized what we know to be correct?
Marley’s cool tongue felt good on my cheek and I relaxed long enough to realize that there was a ringing in my ears. It was almost painful and I could not think. I looked down and there were spent shells everywhere and my right hand was white knuckled around the CZ. My pants were wet and I could not tell if it was sweat or urine. I could not smell but I could taste that sweetish taste of gunpowder. As I tried to get up I felt warmth on the back of my neck. I turned and got Bailey’s tongue all over my face.
Again I tried to get up but Marley started to bark again and I was once more paralyzed. The ringing in my ear became even louder and through it I heard the loud scream of a blow horn. “Police!” “Put the gun down and lay on your stomach” I complied, but the dogs were not as cooperative. Marley continued to bark and was joined by Bailey. They were almost standing on my back. They continued to bark for far too long it seemed, but gladly the police officers waited. The shouting stopped and the dogs soon stopped barking. However, Marley continued a low-pitched growl that increased in volume if anyone approached. Since I did not have a watch on I could not measure the passage of time, but it seems I was on the ground for a longtime. I looked up and saw the K-9 unit pulling up and also noticed that there was a roadblock. I had never seen this many cars on my street. Nor had I ever seen police in my town with guns drawn. Nor had I ever heard of an alligator exiting the lake in this area. I drifted into what seemed like a dream, seeing but not believing and hearing but not listening.
I was brought back to reality by the growling of Bailey. I focused and saw the police handler and a large German Shepherd moving in my direction. I felt sympathy for the approaching team. Both Marley and Bailey started to moving in the direction of the K-9 team but stopped about a body length away from me. They were posturing and got dust all over my face and into my mouth. I was about to move my arm to clear my eyes of dust when the officer closest to me shouted “Stop!”. I then realized that I was surrounded by 5 officers with guns drawn and pointed at me. I glimpsed yellow police tape in the distance. This was not the morning I had in mind when I went for my run.
The morning after an intense overnight Florida thunderstorm is always refreshing. In spite of the noise of nature I had a great night. Sleep came easily and was deep and refreshing. I woke just as my alarm was about to jolt me. I waited in bed until it started the low-rise and turned the alarm off so not to wake my princesses. The dogs, Marley and Bailey, were already up and awaiting their early morning walk.
As I listened I could hear the quiet of the early morning. No rain could be heard. The dogs were calling for me. I quickly dressed and meet Marley and Bailey and took off on our walk. This is arguably the best time of the day. Marley and Bailey were my eyes and ears and I got lost in the haze.
As I drifted along my pace quickened to a slow jog, then into a brisk effort to keep up with the dogs. I was brought back to reality by my timer chirping into my ear “first mile complete”. As my consciousness returned I looked up to see the yellowish moon disappearing from the sky. It was a beauty and reminded me that looking up is always worth it. Soon I was back in the haze of nothingness just feeling the air go in and out of my lungs. I felt as if I could run forever.
“Pop, Pop” My tranquility was interrupted by what sounded like fire works. I nearly ran over Marley as he had stopped and started to bark fiercely. I had never heard him so aggressive. He was standing his ground while Bailey was pulling in the opposite direction. As I scanned the area I noticed that a large alligator was running from the Lake in our direction. Instantly I felt the saliva evaporate from my mouth and I was parched and paralyzed. My legs felt like jello and I could not move. My palms where dripping and the world was going in slow motion. Bailey took off and Marley stood firm. There was a warm feeling in my pants and a heaviness on my hip. I could not move but that heaviness was my CZ 75B. I fumbled for what felt like a lifetime before setting it free of the holster. My brain had come back to reality and I acquired my target and fired until the slide locked back. Marley had quieted and I could hear sirens. Bailey was nowhere to be seen or heard. Marley and I sat on the curb and he licked my face as if to comfort me.
So you want to lose weight. It is as ease as eating cake. Now go do it.
There is no mystery, it is all hype used to encourage us to buy a program. The key to weight loss is mental conditioning. Train your mind, change your attitude and your body will follow.
Before you decide to start that expensive program dig deep and do some research. Read, read and read some more. Get a medical physiology book and read about how the body works. How does the food we eat get converted to the building blocks of our body. Then trash those other books you bought.
Next, get weighed and check your blood pressure. Don’t buy a scale it’s a waste of money. If you have heart disease let your Doctor know that you are planning on changing your life. Don’t ask for approval, he knows less than you do. Just do it.
Go cold turkey. Dump the crap from your fridge. Don’t have more than a weeks worth of food in your fridge. Your diet should consist of fruits, veggie, beans and legumes. If you want to have meat, don’t eat more than once or twice per week. Stop eating out and don’t add sugar to anything.
Next, move more and sit less. Select something you like and work hard. Workout for 35 minutes minimum 3 days a week. Workout at 80% of maximum. If you can talk comfortably you are not working hard enough.
After the first 6 weeks check your blood pressure. Remember, the mind will always quit before the body.
Now do it.