“100 years from now someone will have to explain why all the written artifacts from 2014 are stored as images. I would love to be around to hear the explanation. “
John Holt On Coercion
“The idea of painless, non-threatening coercion is an illusion.
Fear is the inseparable companion of coercion, and its inescapable consequence. If you think it is your duty to make children do what you want, whether they will or not, then it follows inexorably that you must make them afraid of what will happen to them if they don’t do what you want.
You can do this in the old-fashioned way, with the threat of harsh words, infringement of liberty, or physical punishment.
Or you can do it in the modern way; subtly, smoothly, quietly, by withholding the acceptance and approval, which you and others have trained the children to depend on; or by making them feel that some retribution awaits them in the future, too vague to imagine, but too implacable to escape.”
John Holt, How Children Fail (1964)
Bock: “Humans are by nature creative beings, but not by nature logical, structured-thinking beings. Those are skills you have to learn. One of the things that makes people more effective is if you can do both.”
“…coal produces more than 40 percent of the world’s electricity, a foundation of modern life. And that percentage is going up.”
My 2 cents on mini-split Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) for heating is:
1) if you calculate the source energy usage, it’s pretty much equiv to using nat gas directly because of the efficiency of power plants being ~33%. So 33% * whatever COP you get from thre ASHP (let’s say 3 as a seasonal winter avg) then you are back to ~1.00. Same as using a 95% efficient gas furnance or boiler in terms of primary energy/source energy.
2) Money wise, you’d also have to do the math with electricity vs gas prices. Because even if the energy use is equivalent, perhaps the price of electricity vs gas/oil is mismatched.
3) And of course, if you source the electricity for the ASHP from wind/etc then that’s better too.
4) But one could also skip the ASHP and just buy New England Wind Fund credits to offset heating energy too.
5) Comfort wise: it’s point-source heat, so if your house doesn’t already have heating zones, then putting one where you spend a lot of time would allow you to drop the temp in the rest of the house.
6) But they are slow to heat up a space, so you can’t really use set-backs you can like with furnaces/boilers that blast! Maybe they wouldn’t work that great for point source heat since it’s not like a hot woodstove.
7) The compressor makes noise outside and you need somewhere to put the thing and shovel snow away from it occasionally
8) Another thing to break
9) Holistically: In addition to Wind Fund offsets, one could also insulate the house more, eat less meat, drive a prius or more efficient car, or move closer to work so you can walk, bike, or drive less. Or fly less.
10) ASHP will also give you AC. So that might be nice.
Children’s Risky Play From an Evolutionary Perspective: The Anti-Phobic Effects of Thrilling Experiences
… Sandseter began observing and interviewing children on playgrounds in Norway. In 2011, she published her results in a paper called “Children’s Risky Play From an Evolutionary Perspective: The Anti-Phobic Effects of Thrilling Experiences.” Children, she concluded, have a sensory need to taste danger and excitement; this doesn’t mean that what they do has to actually be dangerous, only that they feel they are taking a great risk. That scares them, but then they overcome the fear. In the paper, Sandseter identifies six kinds of risky play:
(1) Exploring heights, or getting the “bird’s perspective,” as she calls it—“high enough to evoke the sensation of fear.”
(2) Handling dangerous tools—using sharp scissors or knives, or heavy hammers that at first seem unmanageable but that kids learn to master.
(3) Being near dangerous elements—playing near vast bodies of water, or near a fire, so kids are aware that there is danger nearby.
(4) Rough-and-tumble play—wrestling, play-fighting—so kids learn to negotiate aggression and cooperation.
(5) Speed—cycling or skiing at a pace that feels too fast.
(6) Exploring on one’s own.
This last one Sandseter describes as “the most important for the children.” She told me, “When they are left alone and can take full responsibility for their actions, and the consequences of their decisions, it’s a thrilling experience.”
I think the problem I have with playgrounds, especially #6 below (with the huge blue blocks) is that even the good ones (and these are rare!) are contrived and are not going to hold interest for long — like a museum. I guess I would have to see if any had much staying power vs the more real / organic / wild / natural versions of (#1) adventure playground and (#2) the campus of Sudbury Valley School (SVS) but I would guess not.
And not only because the blue blocks are less useful than real tools or artifacts the kids create from actual found objects (as at SVS), but also importantly, because (especially at Sudbury Valley School) the kids are in charge of their own time COMPLETELY. It isn’t just a 1/2 hour recess… it is their whole day that they are free to do as they wish — playing (or working… call it as you wish) outdoors or indoors.
And also importantly, at Sudbury Valley School (and other Sudbury Schools) it is within a context of a self-governed community — real direct democracy as embodied in the SVS Lawbook and executed by the Judicial Committee, the School Meeting, and the various elected clerkships and committees. Real consent of the governed is powerful.
Whereas, at a “playground” at some arbitrary short point, the whistle will blow, or the parents will say “times up” after an hour or 2.
Also, outside of school hours… playgrounds are typically hit or miss. Unless in a safe, dense area…. it is going to mean kids need to get their via parents/cars. Vs at SVS, there is a rich environment of “everyone is here” available. Cohousing neighborhoods offer that possibility as well, as long as people aren’t doing too much in the way of scheduled, adult run outside activities, pulling them away from the neighborhood.
1) Adventure Playgrounds
(as noted here: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/03/hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone/358631/)
2) Sudbury Valley School
(as noted here with links to fort building and other outdoor play: http://ehaugsjaa.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/outdoors-at-school/)
3) Power tools for kids
4) Wilderness programs for kids
5) Fat Albert — cartoon at the junkyard
6) Imagination Playgrouds (sterile version of Adventure Playgrounds)
company that makes big blue blocks: http://www.imaginationplayground.com/
7) How Little League sports used to be (no parents… just kids)
Excerpt from Peter Gray