Japanese “catholic” schooling

One of the things I love about my daughters school is their emphasis on created rounded individuals. Academic achievement is important but so is developing character and a moral foundation.

In this article about a Japanese school I saw many overlaps with how Danish schools operate.

“..His Japanese elementary school spent as much time cultivating life skills, or “seikatsuryoku,” as it did on academics. The country takes a holistic approach to educating young children, packing in the scholastics but also instilling traits to be responsible members of society. Think World Cup soccer fans who clean the stadium after cheering a game.

Here are the the non-academic things they emphasize:

1. Being part of a community. One of the key words at his school was “rentai,” or solidarity. …“Aisatsu,” or greetings, were stressed as a way to broach new relationships. Emphasis on teamwork encouraged children to accept one another and taught them to read the status quo and think of how to stay in good standing with the group. 

2. Getting around a new town. All Japanese children go to school on their own.

3. Time management/organization. Japanese children keep track of their assignments by copying into notebooks the list of homework written on the blackboard, etching a to-do list in their minds. Students must also remember what to take to school. 

4. Troubleshooting. Japanese schools have an “integrated studies” period designed to improve problem-solving skills. 

5. Cleaning. Japanese students tidy up their own classrooms.

6. Dining. Japanese students must eat everything that is served for lunch (unless they have allergies). Leaving food is regarded as wasteful and disrespectful to those who prepared the meal. 

7. Handling conflict. At the start of first grade, my son told me he ran from pillar to pillar when moving between classes, taking shelter to avoid a bigger bully boy. He had physical tussles with another boy, rolling around on the classroom floor. The teachers did not intervene unless physical injury or psychological trauma seemed imminent. The school philosophy was to let the kids sort out their own problems. 

8. Endurance.  …His school required either a one- or two-kilometer ocean swim before graduation.

9. Setbacks….He learned that his only choice was to live with his shortcomings or aim higher. He accepted that reality and alternated between the two options. 

This is a lovely list of values to impart. The handling conflict (item 7) is a perfect antidote to the poison of victimhood culture.

Sordid state brutality

[Another in the series of posts forgotten in my drafts folder for years. This one since June 2011]

At face value, this is a tale of a supposed enlightened Western state that allowed ideologically motivated courts to support child rape, and helped a girl divorce her parents.

I have been unable to verify this beyond the article linked below, but here is the e-mail I received. It believe it.

Hi Jonathan

I read your web posting regarding the fears of M’s mother about her daughter and social services. I also read the comment to your posting about the lady who’s sister had 5 children removed from her. I want to share with you a short summary of our tragic experiences in this regard in New Zealand. I think you may be South African – we are also South Africans, having emigrated from Durban to NZ with our 3 children in 1994. The story below summarises what tragically happened to our family at the hands of NZ authorities. I welcome any thoughts or comments you may have.

Kind regards,
<Name redacted>
London

New Zealand – where the State supports underage child sex and a child “divorcing” a good family in order to silence State wrongs

Our family was innocently sucked into social services and family court involvement through the activities of our teenage daughter in New Zealand. We are loving, capable, committed and well-educated parents for whom our family is top priority. Alarmingly, one day we discovered that adult men were having group sex with our 14-year old daughter, so we asked police to prosecute as sexual crimes had been committed. Police informed us that they could only prosecute the men under instruction from social services, so following their advice we reported the matter to social services.

However social services’ view was that our 14-year old daughter’s group sex activities was “love and romance”, and within 30 minutes of meeting only with her, concluded that she should be removed from our home so that she could continue to explore her sexuality with adult men, unimpeded from family influence. They determined that as parents we had no right to protect our underage daughter from sexual criminals.

We opposed our daughter’s removal with every effort we could, and only after we had obtained the assistance of several MPs, did social services agree to leave our family alone. However, the State was not happy that we wanted to hold them accountable for their inappropriate intervention in our family. Realising they had no legal grounds to remove our daughter they secretly encouraged her to leave home on her own, promising her that when she was 16 the State would provide for all her needs on condition that she has no further contact with her family.

As soon as she turned 16 our daughter left home, and the State financed her to live independently. They even prevented us from paying her school fees.

What followed next was a chilling series of events. The State was not happy that we sought accountability – they wanted all information about their involvement with our family silenced. So the State financed our 16-year old daughter to take out gagging orders against her whole family – her parents and two brothers – thereby preventing us from seeking accountability for inappropriate State interventions. These gagging orders involved an attempt to set historical legal precedent in New Zealand because it required that she had to legally “divorce” her family and go into State care (even though she had already left home) in order to gag her family. More details can be read in this cover story of a national magazine:

http://www.investigatemagazine.com/archives/2006/03/investigate_oct.html

We opposed the gagging proceedings in the courts firstly because the State financing a teenager to divorce a good family is a heinous concept, and secondly because we require freedom of speech to seek accountability for the inappropriate State interventions in our family. There were never any allegations of inappropriate parenting – ours was simply a case of the State wanting to silence us so that we could not seek accountability for their appalling interventions. At one point our daughter’s State funded lawyers dragged us through the secret courts in an attempt to have us imprisoned for allegedly breaking an interim gagging order, imposed while the court deliberated on whether to permanently gag us. Eventually we won the court cases, however the State had prolonged proceedings for 2 terrifying years so that our daughter was now 18 – an adult legally fully independent of family. In effect, through furtive means they had achieved their objectives of silencing us and keeping our child isolated from all family influence.

The secret Family court made it very clear that they were quite prepared to send an innocent family to prison in order to keep us quiet at all costs. We were told we needed to be “re-educated”. We are not permitted to detail events inside the secret court, however our own lawyer concluded that we would never get a fair trial in New Zealand because we sought State accountability.

Social services’ earlier actions in alienating our daughter against her family when they encouraged her to explore her sexuality, were hugely exacerbated by the numerous court cases to gag us. When the State pits a 16-year old girl against her whole family in protracted court gagging proceedings, the alienation effects are obvious and significant. We regard the State intervention in our family as severe child abuse. Top world expert psychologists concluded that our daughter is victim of Stockholm Syndrome – a condition where the victim acts similarly to some kidnapping victims who protect their kidnappers. We have received written comments from over 50 leading psychologists and counsellors condemning in the strongest terms the State intervention with our daughter.

Our daughter is now 22, refuses to have any contact with her family, and encouraged by the State, she has changed her surname. She has told us that her abandonment of her family as well as the court gagging proceedings against her family were to protect the State authorities we sought to hold accountable. A description of the State activities which have alienated her from her family, would fill a sizeable book. She has survived on State social welfare now for over 6 years even though her family have always been very willing and capable of supporting her. Her lifestyle has clear evidence of the consequences of living independently from good family influence since 16, for example, after she left home and while still at school, she began a 4-year sexual relationship with a TV presenter/nightclub owner twice her age, continuing even after his high-profile wedding. We learned this only in 2010, when she sold the sordid details of this affair to a national magazine.

Our eldest son, a quiet, reserved, sensitive boy, was dealt to with particular harshness and hostility during the secret Family court gagging procedures. He endured a vicious attack by the judge and lawyer during one court day, simply because he was our son. They savagely bullied him to ensure his silence, so that he would never dare speak of what the State has done to his family. He had witnessed first-hand what social services did to his young sister, and experienced severe bullying in the secret courts despite never even being accused of doing anything wrong. Like us, he was terrified of a judge who threatened to imprison him not because he had done anything wrong, but simply because he was our son – and his parents posed a threat to the State for wanting to seek accountability. Shortly after the court cases our son killed himself. The ex parte gagging orders taken out against our two sons without them being permitted to defend, still exist today.

A large number of laws have been broken by the State in their involvement with our family, both inside and outside the secret courts. In effect, we lost two children – one dead and one severely alienated. We have fully documented our experiences, however, through a campaign of terror the State effectively silenced us and prevented us from seeking redress or publicising our ordeal. To date, no one has yet been held to account.

Our multiple secret court appearances left us frightened and afraid, and concluding that it is too dangerous to live in a country where one has no protection from the law – the family courts are NZ’s Guantanamo Bay where, cloaked in secrecy, the State does it’s dirty deeds without the constraints of the law or the rule of law. We had endured two years of secret court terror, at the hands of a delinquent teenager empowered by a team of State-financed, ideologically-driven lawyers. Even though we eventually won the court cases, the total disregard for proper procedures and disrespect for the rule of law inside the secret court fills us with fear. The very day we won the last court case we began packing our bags – we uprooted our high-tech business, and we left the country. The business now employs Londoners instead of Aucklanders, and is soon to be listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Prospective immigrants into NZ should be warned that their families may suffer the same fate as ours if they try to protect their under-age daughters from sexual criminals or seek accountability for misguided State authorities.

History shows that details of atrocities tend to eventually emerge (Anne Franks for example). Only then does the country learn the lessons and improve. If the details of our experience were ever to emerge onto the world stage, New Zealanders would hang their heads in shame. Politicians and judges should realize that evil thrives under suppression and secrecy, to the country’s detriment. Creating a great nation, requires openness and freedom of expression, so that evil is exposed, lessons are learned and improvements made.

Germany had it’s Nuremberg trials, South Africa had it’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission – hopefully one day society will have a just forum where families such as ours can seek redress. We believe this is our only chance to begin to reverse the damage to our daughter. Our life goals have been shattered, and never a day goes by without us suffering the consequences of the actions of social services and the secret family court.

In a subsequent mail, the dad wrote in reply to my request to publicise the story:

Yes, please publicise our story. The message needs to get out. It effects us every single day of our lives. Ours is not the only horror story – we have read of many others – however we feel that we have an obligation to get our story out, as we are credible witnesses, have meticulous records of events, and the wrongdoings against us were so clear cut and extensive. Because we eventually won the court cases, ours is not a situation of sour grapes having lost – we won, but the court cases should never have occurred in the first place. However, even though we won, we are terrified of the secret courts having witnessed how they operate.

Terrifying stuff….

Susan Sons on Girls and Tech

Great post on girls and tech by legendary hacker Susan Sons. At the age of 12 she became a respect member of an IRC channel where she was fully accepted despite her age and gender:

Open source was my refuge because it was a place were nobody cared what my pedigree was or what I looked like—they cared only about what I did. I ingratiated myself to people who could help me learn by doing dull scutwork: triaging issues to keep the issue queues neat and orderly, writing documentation and fixing code comments. I was the helpful kid, so when I needed help, the community was there. I’d never met another programmer in real life at this point, but I knew more about programming than some college students. 

Twelve-year-old girls today don’t generally get to have the experiences that I did. Parents are warned to keep kids off the computer lest they get lured away by child molesters or worse—become fat! That goes doubly for girls, who then grow up to be liberal arts majors. Then, in their late teens or early twenties, someone who feels the gender skew in technology communities is a problem drags them to a LUG meeting or an IRC channel. Shockingly, this doesn’t turn the young women into hackers.

Why does anyone, anywhere, think this will work? Start with a young woman who’s already formed her identity. Dump her in a situation that operates on different social scripts than she’s accustomed to, full of people talking about a subject she doesn’t yet understand. Then tell her the community is hostile toward women and therefore doesn’t have enough of them, all while showing her off like a prize poodle so you can feel good about recruiting a female. This is a recipe for failure.

Young women don’t magically become technologists at 22. Neither do young men. Hackers are born in childhood, because that’s when the addiction to solving the puzzle or building something kicks in to those who’ve experienced that “victory!” moment like I had when I imposed my will on a couple electronic primates.

Unfortunately, our society has set girls up to be anything but technologists. My son is in elementary school. Last year, his school offered a robotics class for girls only. When my son asked why he couldn’t join, it was explained to him that girls need special help to become interested in technology, and that if there are boys around, the girls will be too scared to try.

My son came home very confused. You see, he grew up with a mom who coded while she breastfed and brought him to his first LUG meeting at age seven weeks. The first time he saw a home-built robot, it was shown to him by a local hackerspace member, a woman who happens to administer one of the country’s biggest supercomputers. Why was his school acting like girls were dumb?

Thanks so much, modern-day “feminism”, for putting very unfeminist ideas in my son’s head. 

http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/girls-and-software

Nappy free baby and baby sign language

As I await the arrival of my daughter any day now, I spotted an article about teaching babies sign language.

Parents finding benefit in teaching babies sign language as well as speech

Toward the end of lunch, Phoenix Ferragame, 17 months old, raised both hands in front of his chest and tapped his fingertips together.

His mother smiled.

“You want more? More chips?” Gina Ferragame asked, mimicking the hand movement and then passing the bowl to her son.

For parents, hardly anything is as satisfying as being able to communicate with their children. But speech requires development of three muscle groups. Toddlers typically have motor control of their hands and fingers months sooner.

Teaching a short vocabulary of American Sign Language – milk, more, please, and a handful of other words – is so simple that parents are networking, classes are spreading, and how-to sites are booming.

Ferragame and her husband began working on basic signs with their older son, Theo, when he was 5 months old.

“I saw a response immediately,” she said. “I was inspired by the fact that I could acknowledge him.”

It reminded me of something I saw years ago on CoolTools, a post reviewing a book called “Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene

In my many years traveling throughout Asia I saw almost no babies with diapers. Yet I commonly saw infants who would seem to eliminate on command. Their moms would hold them over a gutter with their pants down, whistle a quiet hiss, or grunt, and then the baby would go. At one year! Two-year olds would find their own place to squat. The real story behind this magic is that the child communicates their elimination needs to the mom, who learns to understand their unique signals, and then she communicates back whether all is ready or not. The result is a baby toilet-trained long before anyone in developed countries believes is possible, or even healthy. And this diaper-less, yet mess-less, state is common in parts of Africa and Latin America as well.

I love this idea of teaching my daughter to sign, and being able to read her elimination signals, an avoid “walking toilets” that are nappies.

In practice I think these sorts of methods take enormous time and energy, and I am afraid those are in short supply with a new baby.

we’ll see….