Education vs. Technology


These days I look at our education system with a deep sense of sadness and befuddlement.

What are the cornerstones of our educational base now?

At one point they were reading, writing & arithmetic .

Why are they no longer ‘teaching’ children these fundamentals?

They are not teaching children how to write any longer.  They are not teaching them how to spell.  Children have iPads now that they work off of with calculators to assist in the math areas.

A recent article spoke of children coming into school not having developed the muscles to hold a pencil or pen in order to write.  Here are the two schools of thought that currently seem to exist.

“One school believes that learning handwriting is important for children because they think fine motor control and how you organize your thoughts develops with your writing skills. But the other camp believes that we’re moving into a world where [everything] is done on computers, so learning how to write by hand is an outdated skill.”

I believe and know for fact that the first school of thought  is based on proven theory and writing should never be considered an outdated skill.  It should be an absolute necessity.  Now more than ever!

I am absolutely appalled though that schools are moving toward technology at such a rapid pace without any thought as to how this will impact the youth of today years from now.

One person bemoaned on their blog how ‘dangerous’ pens and pencils are and that they should be banned from the classroom!  The reasoning was infantile at best.  The writer of that blog post insisted that pens and pencils can and have been used as weapons.

It is not the pens and pencils that are the issue.  It is the children’s behaviour.  I cannot recall throwing pencils at other students.  That is not to say it didn’t happen.  The children that did partake in this type of behaviour were quickly reprimanded.

And if a child displayed such disruptive behaviour there were usually underlying and more serious issues at play that would require further investigation to help the child.

And as we know, technology has created some major hindrances in child development and brought about things such cyber-bullying.

As a child I loved getting school supplies.  I would get a new pencil case, pencils, erasers, rulers, geometry kits, pens, binders, and packs of loose-leaf paper,  We had the duo-tang folders to put the paper in and I would label each folder with the subject matter that it would contain.  This was based upon the colour of the folder as well.

I loved the smell and newness of everything.  In elementary school we were given ‘scribblers’ by the schools. This was how you practiced your penmanship and spelling.

So the big thing was having a cool lunch kit.  I do believe the last one I may have had was a Partridge Family one.  I also had a book bag made from a cheap vinyl and yet these items gave me a sense of belonging.

We were given projects to do and book reports to prepare.  There were certain things the teacher looked for.  One was indeed penmanship.  And I worked at this.  My mother and oldest sister had beautiful handwriting and I aspired to write as they did.

Writing and reading were the two things I loved most about school.  Arithmetic…well, it scared me a bit back then.  Being that I am someone who learns best by visualization, those early math books weren’t very good at allowing me to do this.

Still the problems presented such as (i.e. a train traveling 45 mph arrives at 10 PM.  Another train travelling 65 mph arrives at the same time…what distance did each cover?) always gave me pause to think.   And while they often confounded me at the beginning, they eventually became the ones I really like.

They were like a mystery to me.

What I liked about them is they assisted with critical thinking and they helped in terms of developing the brain’s cognitive and figurative functions.

Being able to assess and determine a variety of issues is a good thing.  And it is the lessons from my youth that have helped enormously to shape the person I’ve become.

I feel children are being robbed of an education if they are not being taught to read, write and spell.  If they are not being taught to calculate math manually as well and are solely reliant on technology then what happens ? For example what happened to play?

Parks and playgrounds now sit empty. Why?

Here is another excerpt.

“Of course, there are so many other concerns when it comes to kids and devices with regard to social interaction and the development of emotion.

“Whilst there are many positive aspects to the use of technology, there is growing evidence on the impact of more sedentary lifestyles and increasing virtual social interaction as children spend more time indoors online and less time physically participating in active occupations,” Karin Bishop, an assistant director at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, told The Guardian.

Flanders echoes those concerns, and points to emerging literature that indicates that extended screen time may be creating problems for children, including an increased prevalence of ADHD, a lack of good interpersonal skills and an expectation of instant gratification.

But he also doesn’t think that it will result in scaling back on tech in the classroom.

“Right now, schools are still emphasizing learning the alphabet by tracing the letters with their fingers and writing them out with pen and paper,” Flanders says.

“But I think 30 or 40 years from now, that’s going to be a thing of the past.”

I really believe that schools need to have a concise educational plan.

For example:

Grades 1-4:  No computers in the classroom.  (All learning  is based on the tried and true methods of working with paper, pencils and pens along with text books.  The use of reference materials, such as dictionaries, thesaurus’ and encyclopedias should be encouraged. )

Grades 5-7:  Begin to introduce computers into the classroom as a tool, nothing more.

The emphasis should be on developing children’s skills and abilities to become engaged and plugged in adolescents.  The formative years are critical in terms of assisting our children to develop such skills.   To think that writing is going to be an ‘outdated skill’ is damn well frightening to me.

The page has been the one thing in my life that always listened.  I could pour out everything and anything onto that page.  It was now purged from my youthful soul that was shattered at that time.  Had I held all of that in, had I never been able to express the hurt, the angst, the fear that existed…I’m not certain I would even be here.

A counselor told me that they had encouraged a female patient to journal.  She hedged at the idea.  Later it would be discovered that the girl did not know how to write.

Writing gave me a voice.  It enabled me to express the feelings that were locked inside  that verbally I found so difficult to share.  Even if no one else ever saw the words written they were there.

Don’t take these skills away from children.

Read below what is replacing paper and pen.

‘Written communication among kids and teens today has morphed into such a confusing mixture of acronyms and emojis that it can almost make hieroglyphics more easily understood. This is why it’s important for parents to be up on the latest text slang.

“Text lingo practically changes weekly and a lot of the times, parents have no clue what their kids and their friends are saying,” says Titania Jordan, chief parent officer of Bark, a software program that monitors, detects and alerts parents to potentially dangerous conversations on their kids’ cellphones, and email and social media accounts.

“I’m surprised at how many parents still don’t know what ‘Netflix and chill’ means.” (For the record, it refers to hooking up, not actually watching Netflix.)’

And yet we readily hand our children cellphones and tablets that connect them to what, I am no longer certain.

Read Ray Bradbury’s book released in 1953 for ‘Fahrenheit 451’.

Below is a summary of the book as written by The New York Times.

‘Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.’

This has a chilling ring of truth to it.  The T.V. has now been replaced by iPads and Tablets.

Will there come a time when books are no longer necessary, when their value is no longer worth the pages they’ve been written upon?

I for one certainly hope not.

 

 

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The Delicate Balance of a Book Review


book 3

For those who’ve followed me for any length of time on here, you’ll know I share pretty much whatever happens to be playing out in this head of mine at any given time.

And I am entering the realm of a published author now trying to determine how I let the rest of world know that I’ve written a book.  They may want to read it….then again…they may not.

I’ve written letters as of late to ‘promote’ my product.  I’ve set them aside for a week then went back to see if the brainstorming session that had been initiated still held appeal.

the happy face

In the last few weeks nothing has been promoted as I’ve recoiled from first few attempts to try to ‘win’ attention of a media person of interest to review my book.  I’ve got this damn weird sense of humour that tries to slip in between the sheets  and (wow) the recipient of a letter just may feel violated!

Mind you, I did send that letter to Ellen…..hmmmmmmmmm!

Some of what I’ve written has been quite good.  However, closing the letter by saying things like…”my friends will tell you I am a good and dependable person.  They will also tell you I’m a little bat-shit crazy at times with a smile on their face in the telling.”

I then challenge the recipient of the letter (who has never met me…never heard of me) to read the book and decide for themselves who I am.  And this book isn’t really an introduction per se of who I am.  It is telling you the nasty business of how I got here.

Dizzy-Smiley

Oye!

So having pondered the best approach and a starting point I began to look for book reviewers online. Find someone who appreciates and/or has a preference for memoir and submit the book for an honest review.  The other aspect of this is to find credible reviewers.  I mean I want to garner more traffic and interest in my book.

That’s the point of the marketing.

One of the best ways to create interest is by word of mouth.  Get the buzz happening and people will check you out.  Hopefully the product will then entice you to purchase and read.

I’m wearing a different hat these days.  I’ve gone from being the ‘creative genius’ to being the ‘business mastermind’.

Am I not humble? (Insert a glaringly funny and obscene smiley face here).

In all honesty what I’m finding is that due diligence in this area is extremely necessary.

Many sites request a fee for their time and I can certainly appreciate this.  So far I’ve found sites that request $30 for their services and others that ask for $500 and up.

Then I got to wondering…if you paid the $500 then the $30…what type of reviews would you get? Money can be such an influential thing, can it not?

If I paid $500 for a book review wouldn’t I expect it to be decent and favourable?  And I don’t really have that kind of cash to toss into the arena.  The sum of $500 may well be the entire budget I want to invest in publicizing this book.  I’ve already spent $90 approximately on copies to send out for promotion.  The dilemma at this moment is who to send it to.  Who will have the most impact and do they appreciate this form of literature?

book 2

I read one site that guaranteed honesty in their review.  And I wondered how I would react to someone not liking what I’ve written, not understanding and completely trashing me.

Indeed it would hurt.

But not for long.  I’d have to be pragmatic and ask the reviewer where I lost them and what they found so unappealing.  After all there is the business aspect to this.

And besides, what I’ve lived can no longer hurt me. There will be the odd sting or two no doubt.  And I’m not out to convince this world of anything.

I just am who I am.  No more.  No less.

books 1

As I venture into the wide and wild world of publishing and marketing let me assure you in many ways it’s like seeing the sun rise for the first time even though you know you’ve watched it a hundred thousand times before.

There is a beauty that I just love.  And an innocence that,  damn, I wish I could hold onto forever, and a boatload of desire and passion to expose all that is in this heart of mine

And that’s what I must use as a compass point in this venture.

Take nothing for granted, appreciate any and all comments.

And always remember that I’m only human after all.

Peace out!

 

 

The Birth of a Dream


 

 

http://www.amazon.com/This-Mind-Memoir-Nancy-Pilling/dp/0993846025/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424326821&sr=8-1&keywords=With+this+in+Mind

(Above is the link to Amazon.com)

Here I am on the edge about to plunge into the world of publishing.

I’ve crossed over from dreaming about it, to making it real.  The book has now been published.

(See above)

And there is this part of me that still doesn’t quite believe it…pinch me!

There was for a moment that insecure part of me that insisted ‘It’s not good enough.’  These are the demons that have bound me in ‘If only…’ for the majority of my life.

I am past ‘If only…’

I am past ‘I wish I could…’

I am at ‘I can and I will.’

I’ve been thinking about some of the past conversations I’ve had with members of my writing groups.  We’ve discussed success and what it means to each of us.

I can tell you this.  Any one who writes a book and wants to publish it really does want to see their work do well.

We want to reach out to the masses and emote, entertain, touch and inspire.

We want our voice heard, understood in whatever genre we’ve chosen to express our creative self.  We look for acknowledgement.  In all the words we writers’ pen, they hold a part of our soul.

I’ve read obscure books that were brilliant.  I’ve read books so poorly written that were best sellers.

And the difference comes down to marketing.

A  few years back a fellow who attended a couple meetings of our writing group had published a book on Amazon.  Excitedly I asked several questions and then he told us that he’d taken it down after a week as there had been no sales.  I pressed for more information wanting to know what his marketing strategy had been.

There in lay the problem…he didn’t have one.

You can write the best book ever but you still have to market it and let the masses know its there.

Books do not and never will sell themselves.

Nothing will for that matter.

Vince appears on our TV screen and slices and dices his way into our homes convincing us that our lives will be so much better with this little gadget he’s selling.  How we’ve managed to get by without this item in our lives is really quite extraordinary.

I’ve watched infomercials and purchased items believing that I will benefit.

When the Dermawand was being marketed I had just entered into my 50’s.  With the promise of aging skin being tightened I had to at least give it a try, didn’t I?

And I did.

We’ve been inundated with products that will make our lives that much better.

Kitchen, beauty, diet and fitness items top the list.

Take this pill  and lose all the weight you want.  Workout just 15 minutes a day on this machine and you’ll have that six pack you’ve always wanted…guaranteed.

Hmmm  Really?

And now I’m thinking how to market this book…honestly.

Will it change your life?

I don’t know but it changed mine.

I hope that my book will bring some insight into the issue of abuse.  I hope that it will offer comfort on some level to those who’ve experienced this.  I hope they’ll know they have choices and they are not alone.

I want to work toward a day where we move past judgments, move past negative energy and move past living as victims.

And while I’ve mentioned those demons that still haunt, still taunt, I do know that they will never take away what I’ve found.  They are simply echoes from another time.

I hope you’ll read my book and that you’ll take something from the words I’ve written and the memories I’ve shared.

I can’t ask for anything more than that.

Peace.

 

The Secret?


I had a fabulous run this morning.  I didn’t sleep well but then it seems as of late the battle of wills occurs when I slip into bed.  Then I have to really work to achieve the quiet mind and even once sleep claims me, the fight is carried on into the next stream of consciousness .  Dreams have been reflecting my anxiety regarding these recent rounds of events.  Even though only 4 1/2 hours sleep were attained last evening the need to run and find that connection, an affirmation to the living world held a deeper level of need.

And so as I greeted this day in all its glory I decided to do one of my first routes plotted out when I moved to New Westminster and began running again.  Today’s run was right up there and reminded me why I love to do this.  I got to thinking about many things this morning.

I am excited by the though of how much more energy I will have after the surgery.  I will just soar and I’ve never let myself do that before.  And with that thought I began to contemplate a few things I have been working on over the past few years.  I did a workshop a few years back and one of the exercises was to write for 5 minutes how we would look if we were truly happy and content in our lives.  We had to write down how we would dress, where we would be living, what type of work we would be doing…and we needed to add as much detail as we could.

I wrote furiously and managed about two pages of itemized detail on what ‘happy’ would look like on me.  Next we shared this with the group.  The last part of this exercise was rather telling.  We were asked why were not in the state of happiness that we had just described.

Oh, a plethora of excuses sprang to the surface.  I could easily have bemoaned the circumstances of my life with just cause but then the light bulb really went off.  It was quite simply my attitude that stood in the way of achieving the state that I so wanted to be in.  Change that and just see what comes of it.  I took the bait.

I have read about the Law of Attraction.  I have listened to tapes about secret societies that hold the key to untold wealth and power.  I have researched these secrets  and then I stopped and wondered why I found all of this rather tedious.  In truth, I don’t seek extreme wealth in monetary form.  I have no desire to own an estate on every continent.  I have no need for ten automobiles and a yacht or two.

I would like to be a successful writer and be able to earn a decent living from the proceeds.  And I will realize this.

There is an awful lot of talk about the law of attraction these days.  It started with the book The Secret.  Like many of you, several years ago I purchased it and attempted to apply what it spoke of.  Nothing changed.  Last year I listened to some tapes that stated the powers that be removed the truly beneficial information as they felt ‘threatened’ to some degree on what was being disclosed in this particular book.  Hence, The Secret remains as such.

Then I got to thinking about the whole power thing.  Power is one of the most misunderstood entities on this planet.  Too often it gets confused with control.  Beating the masses back into submission by means of using fear tactics does not grant power to the instigator.

Power is knowledge, it is love, it is selflessness, it is surrender.  Power is standing before this world  in all your vulnerability and accepting it as such.  Power is a quiet force that grows and spreads to like-minded individuals when it is released and shared.  It cannot be coveted and has no monetary value.  It is simple in its subtlety and yet when understanding begins to form you will see it in its honesty.

We talk about the power of natural forces.  Indeed.  Wind is without question a powerful entity.  It can rip down a forest or stir the seas up to boiling.  We are in awe of this, yes?  And we cannot harness its random nature, but we can learn from it.

And so I will continue to grow and find that quiet power within.  I will surrender this to the world, to the universe.  What comes back to me feeds the spirit, feeds the heart.   As this cycle continues, what is received is offered back and so a balance is found.  The life source flows naturally and unimpeded.

Thinking on these books such as The Secret, I liken it to the American Dream. We are all being sold one vision when there is an infinite kaleidoscope of viewpoints to choose from.  You just have to find the one that fits.  I also find it interesting how the introduction to these things starts by having the potential customer being asked to  ‘imagine having wealth beyond your wildest dreams…”

It is a current phenomenon I am sure.  Yet, it’s what we are instructed to go after.  It will make us happy.

This morning I was reminded on my run that I am still very much alive and still very much a part of this world and that made me very happy.  And I am going to allow myself to have this.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a great day.

Blessings!

Somewhere in the Middle


Yesterday was devoted to editing, reviewing some of the pictures I took on the weekend and the domestic bliss of the laundry, cleaning and menu planning variety.  I had the TV on in the late afternoon and from time to time certain phrases would slip into my head.  One was on Anderson Cooper Live.  The announcer stated, ‘”Coming up, a woman claims the bestseller ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ destroyed her marriage.”

I smiled at this and shook my head.  We like to blame our problems sometimes on rather obscure things, don’t we?  I am sure if someone’s marriage was sound and solid, reading this book would not be cause for it to fall apart.  Of course, if you just happened to be a huge fan of the English language, this book may cause a certain hostility in you.  In fact, you may find yourself weeping uncontrollably at the unconscionable use of the written word in this book that claims to be an erotica novel.

I have refrained from posting my opinion on this particular book.  I have had a number of very animated conversations with fellow writers on this very topic and yes, sadly we sat there gnashing our teeth and pulling out our hair our and wept and wailed at how poorly this book was written.  We argued about erotica, porn and all the rest of it.  And I don’t even know why we were arguing!  I will blame it on the dastardly book!  We would find ourselves yelling at each other while we were in complete agreement on the topic.  Sad I tell you.  Very sad.

We  finally decided that we could no longer mention this particular book as it just stirred up far too many horrific memories for us.  Now not everyone in my writing group read this book.  One of the guys read it as did I.  I will never get back that week of my life.  I pushed through it, however, becoming increasingly agitated as I scraped my eyes over each page.

I now have nightmares due to phrases such ‘Oh my!’ ‘He murmured, she murmured’ (nobody talks in this book…they all murmur), ‘Holy Shit!  And the phrase that now makes me want cause bodily harm to myself as well as others, are you ready for this?  ‘My inner goddess…” Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

(I swear if these phrases were removed, two hundred of the five hundred pages would be eliminated…yes, that is how often they are used.)

It is interesting to me that so many ‘soccer moms’ are apparently just eating this book up.  Even more astonishing is that they think the sex scenes in this book are racy.  Good lord!  The one time that they start to get into the S & M on a heavier level, she leaves him.  He uses a leather belt or something like that, at her bequest, and spanks her damn good.  And she breaks it off.  Now the other aspect of this book that I disagree with is the misrepresentation of people who do enjoy this lifestyle.  This books make it appear that people who partake in this suffer from some sort of sexual deviancy.

Sadder yet, it’s not erotica!  It really isn’t!  It is simply a bad romance.  That’s it.  And it is a really bad romance.  I am sick of reading about virgins that have a million orgasms their first time out.  And our heroine in this book has never even masturbated!  Yet when he shows her the ‘dungeon’ for the first time, this doesn’t freak her out.   And she is still a virgin when she views this.  There are chains and pulley’s hanging from the ceiling, but of course she finds this mildly curious.  It goes downhill from there.  If I was a virgin and someone wanted me to sign a contract so that they could do certain things to me, for which I knew nothing about, I think I’d pass.  I get the whole ‘animal attraction’ thing,  I really do.  But this book is about as unrealistic as they come.

Someone told me perhaps that’s the point.  I only read the one book.  I won’t waste my time with the rest of it.  One woman I know has read all three and apparently she ‘fixes’ him.  Oh, they still have a wee bit of naughty fun, but it’s vanilla sex, baby, all the way to the altar and the 2.5 children.

I was in a year-long depression and in that year I read over 200 romance / erotica novels.  Don’t ask me why as that is a whole other aspect of psychology that would take a whole lot of explaining that I just don’t want to get into.  Suffice to say I became rather intimate with the formula of this genre.  I read really good books, I read really bad books, I read very intriguing books.  Okay, I am no expert but I know a bad romance when I read one.

So now that I have ranted about this, perhaps I will begin to sleep normally at night.  It happens quite often though when a book will become a bestseller for the strangest reason.  This quite often happens with celebrity books.  I typically don’t read books authored by celebrities or ‘unauthorized’ biographies.  Still, I know they are popular.  For me, as long as it is well written and honours the language code.

Sadly, this book shows the demise of the language in many ways.  Am I overreacting?  Probably.  I can be a little dramatic when something gets under my skin.  And this did.

E. L. James is enjoying her millions and oh, will I be going to see the movie? Not bloody likely.

So keep the faith people.  Hopefully this was one of those odd little anomalies that occur from time to time.

May we embrace and celebrate the creative spirit in its pure form.  Somewhere in the middle of all of this I will endeavor to do my part.

Have a good one.

Down Time


I am taking a few days off of work.  I need it. 

I want to dive into finishing the book I have been working on.  Almost there!  It has truly been an interesting process.  The emotional roller coaster I have gone on during the writing of this has been tremendous.  I have discovered things out about self, remembered things about self, acknowledged things about self,  some of them not so good believe me.  Then comes the fear.  What if no one reads it?  What if people read it and hate it?  What if, what if, what if?

Enough to drive toon looney.  I accept that this is likely a very common reaction.  No doubt every person before me and all that follow who decide to publish a piece of their creative self and offer it to the masses has likely felt this.  I think about the multitude of books that are published, music that is recorded, art that has been produced in just a year and it blows me away that I will likely never be exposed to the majority of it.  But it’s out there.

And you know those times when you find that book, hear a song or discover an art piece that was released to the public a lifetime ago, and it speaks to you on a level that is so profound and beautiful…it may never have achieved the success deserved, but you have found it and it is now a part of you.  That gift that the artist who created it has now been able to reach through the spans of time and touch your life with its presence.

That is the beauty of this I suppose.  Once I release my book to the public, who is to say what will happen?  But if it touches just one soul, then perhaps I have done my job.  This is what I want to do.  I want to write.  I want to create. I want to share.

I have told myself for a lifetime of what I can’t do.  That’s changing.  What if I can do it?  What if I do it?  Now its time to break through.  Never know until you try.  I have to keep into perspective of why I want to do this in the first place as well. 

Am I wanting fame and fortune?  No.  Am I wanting praise and admiration.  No. 

Why am I doing this?  Completion.  This story will now have been told and it will be available to the public.  For me, I will have finished something I have always wanted to do.  What doors, I wonder will open then?  Will this be it? 

When I started to run again the obstacles were rather daunting.  But finishing that first race opened up a whole new belief in myself.  It propelled me to look past my perceived limitations and challenge them.  And oh baby, I have been breaking down walls ever since. 

Publishing the first book is both frightening and exhilarating all at the same time.  How it is received is out of my hands but do keep in mind that I someday hope to rule the world…

The release I think will be emotional freedom for me.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Once you have seen something through to fruition then it is on to the next project. 

So I am going to dive into down time now.  The sun is shining and I have six days to immerse myself into what will hopefully be the best damn 10,000 words to full completion that have ever been penned. 

Ah yes.  The joy of writing. 

Enjoy your day everyone. Thanks for checking in.