Unschooling and Essential Life Skills

Unschooling, or my preferred term, Natural Learning is a worldview that life itself is learning and children naturally seek to learn. A parent with a natural learning worldview seeks to provide children with an environment in which they are free to follow their curiosities and discover the world. In doing so children would develop the necessary life skills that they would need on their life journey.

Ellen Galinsky, the author of the book Mind in the Making identifies 7 essential life skills every child needs, namely

  1. Focus and Self Control
  2. Perspective Taking
  3. Communicating
  4. Making Connections
  5. Critical Thinking
  6. Taking on Challenges
  7. Self Directed, Engaged Learning
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be looking at each skill from an unschooling perspective. This will elaborate further and describe the principles of Natural Learning. It will also illustrate that life skills are a natural outcome of a natural learning environment.
Bye 4 now…..

More or Less

We want more
We need less
We accumulate more
We have less
We find that more is less
And less is more
More or Less

5 Things I learned from my children

Over the years I have learned many things from many people, but I recently realised that I learned the most important life lessons from my children. I have 3 children aged, 12, 10 and 3 and I have learned many things from them, but I would like to highlight just 5 of the most important ideas that I have learned.

  1. Learning happens all the time, no matter where you are or what you doing, learning happens all the time. You just need to be open to it.
  2. Enjoy the now, as adults we spend way too much time focusing on what has happened in the past and what we want to do in the future that we forget to appreciate and enjoy the now.
  3. Your relationships with people are most the important. You discover that children need your time and attention most of all rather than anything else.
  4. Adaptability, children can find joy in almost all situations even in little ways. So instead of whining we should just find the good stuff and enjoy it.
  5. Fearlessness, we should embrace the unknown with curiosity and enthusiasm rather then fear and trepidation.

These traits seem to be so simple and natural for children, which makes me wonder how and when do we as adults lose this ability? I have found that as an adult, it is very difficult to live these traits at least for me, but I try everyday nonetheless. I also try to ensure that my children dont lose them either.

Cheers 4 now

Hamba Kahle! to the World

Well, the FIFA world cup has come and gone and my great Dutch hope fades again. Congratulations are due to all involved in making the world cup in South Africa such a wonderful event. South Africa set out to host the best world cup ever and they did it in African style, siyabonga kakhulu (thank you very much). And a great thanks goes out to all those hospitable South Africans who opened their arms and welcomed the world in African style as well. And most all thank you to the fans from all over the world for coming to our wonderful country and enjoying this event with us. It certainly was a once in a lifetime!

Congratulations to Spain on winning their first world cup title and well deserved it is. I am distraught that my favorite team Holland, whom I have supported for many many years has once again come short but not from a lack of trying. They played with heart and passion and I salute that. They chose the correct tactics and executed it well. It was always going to be the battle between Robben and Casillas that determines the winner and unfortunately Casillas won.

It is Brazil’s turn next to host this wonderful event and I wish them well to do something even better and I am looking forward to it. Thanks to all and Hamba Kahle!

FIFA’s Technophobia

I like conspiracy theory’s as much as the next person, but why don’t FIFA really want to use technology in officiating soccer games? Technophobia, I think not! For as long as we have played world cups, there has been controversy and the best FIFA could come up with was FIFA Fair Play. So before every game we have soccer players walk out onto the pitch and pledge themselves to fair play and then start the game and demonstrate what fair play is NOT.

FIFA’s response to this is usually an apology and a pledge not to introduce technology. I am beginning to wonder why? Why would an organisation that is responsible for the promotion and management of a world wide sport in which  supporters and fans are religious in their following, be opposed to fair play in their actions.

No technology allows players to cheat, plain and simple. Referees and linesman cannot be everywhere and are just human thus introducing human error as well. This creates a huge opportunity for manipulation and influence of soccer games. Now ordinarily I would imagine the any sport governing body would try to stamp out any opportunity to manipulate and influence a game, but not FIFA.

FIFA it seems, like as much opportunity to influence games as the bookies. Maybe just maybe the reason FIFA is so opposed to technology in sport is not technophobia but the limitation of its own ability to influence and manipulate games. Maybe they make money from both sides of the financial model, that is selling the sport and collecting royalties from bookies or maybe even being bookies themselves. This could possibly be one explanation for their insistence of no technology.

If you have any other ideas to FIFA’s technophobia, I would be most interested in them….

Yours in sport and conspiracy theories….

The Right Handed iPhone 4

The iPhone 4 apparently has been getting reception complaints and Apple’s response to this was avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of the many available cases.” In fact Steve Jobs simply stated “Non issue. Just avoid holding it that way.”

Now I am blogging about this because it fascinates me just what a powerful brand Steve Job’s has created. If Steve ran a brand building course I would sell my kidneys to attend it. It also fascinates me that most Applist (loyal followers of the church of Apple) will not see anything wrong with the statement “Non issue. Just avoid holding it that way”. 

Just to avoid the religious wars, I am going to use an analogy, Imagine motor manufacturer X released a brand new vehicle and immediately there are reports of the engine cutting off sometimes when you turn left at 180km/h, would you be running out to buy one just yet, well I am sure you don’t usually drive at that speed so it shouldn’t really matter now should it. Ok, so you thinking that a phone is not a life and death situation so its not the same, well for your sake I hope you are not on an emergency call to 911 and heaven help you, you forget to “avoid holding it that way”. 

Crazy people like me would expect the motor manufacturer’s CEO to respond with acknowledgement of the problem and the means to rectify it even at considerable cost, or they may not be in business for very long, but not so in Appleverse. Applist will just happily buy the many available cases that Apple sells them or remember to not hold it that way.

But I can empathise with Steve completely. In my line of work, I develop perfectly good working software everyday and then some damn user uses it incorrectly.

Now where can I get my hands on an iPhone 4 and of course with a case? 

On a lighter side here is related funny story : An iPad Wedding gone wrong

Cheers 4 now

Religious truth sharers want you to go to hell…..

From the moment I was born, all the people around me ensured that I was made aware of religion, worship and God. I was sent to religious school and indoctrinated with the Truth. My loved one’s, strangers and most people I meet like to share their Truth and provide me with salvation for which I was most grateful.

I spent most of my life thinking that all these Truth sharers really had my back, and wanted me to get to heaven with them where we could live out our eternity in bliss, but I was wrong. All they really want to have is company in hell. I know you wondering how I could get to such a conclusion. 
Well it’s real simple. In every religion that I have come encountered, it is stated that God would not punish ignorance. If you are ignorant and commit sin, you will be forgiven and you will go to heaven. So my simple mind concludes that ignorance is the paved way to heaven. Now if this is the case, why would anyone want to share the truth with you, and thereby increase the possibility of sinning in knowledge and possibly denying you forgiveness and heaven.
Please all those good intentioned people out there STOP sharing the TRUTH so that the ignorant lot may inherit heaven and you can revel in the fact that your truth was truly true………….deep down in the throes of hell. 

FIFA, the Legal Bully

A restaurant owner is being threatened with arrest by FIFA because he has a hand painted ball with the number 2010 on it displayed in his restaurant window. This is just one example of ridiculous legal action being threatened by FIFA, there are many others all around our country.

I think the world is gone mad when we as a people can allow a corporate to go around intimidating and bullying people for silly little things. Do they think that the public would believe that the restaurant is somehow linked to the world cup and/or FIFA. I am sorry, even a damn retarded monkey would not make that link.

I recently noticed a Bafana Bafana soccer shirt being sold at a sports store which carried a warning that you may not alter the garment in any way or run the risk of being sued by FIFA. This may seem like small insignificant issue now, but the future looks bleak for consumers and civil society in general if we continue in this way. One day you are going to wake up in pyjamas that can only be rented and has an attached contract that is the length of an encyclopedia. You may laugh at this idea but 15 years ago I would have laughed at anyone trying to sell a garment that had small print determining what you can and can’t do with it.

There is certainly a need to protect intellectual property but only in as much as required to ensure that there is fair return on your ideas. That is, no one else should be able to sell your idea as his own and that is as far as it should go. All ideas are built on other ideas, there are no truly unique ideas. So just like the genetically modified foods license the seed to farmers, they should be licensing the original DNA that they reverse engineered from nature to the world and pay for it.

The legal world only really works for corporates because to fight a legal case requires great deals of money. Ordinary citizens dont have the time, energy or resources to take these bully’s on individually and so they know they can bully us. We need to join together as a society and revolt against selling our world to corporates. Society! Wake up to corporates owning everything in your lives and let us change it before it is to late.

This reminds me of a story, the details may not be exact but the idea is important

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.” – Pastor Martin Niemöller

So what can we do? Well first we can vocalise our disapproval of the behavior,  then join together in our disapproval and lastly speak collectively with our wallets and not buy their products. It is with tears in my eyes that sacrifice my annual FIFA soccer game and vow not to purchase another FIFA product. Hello Pro Evolution Soccer……

My First Week with an iMac

Let me start by stating that I am a very impatient computer user, I despise waiting in any way or form. Over the 25 years of using computers I sought the holy grail of a computer that does not make me wait. So I try various hardware and software solutions to accomplish my software development tasks with as little waiting as possible. I have tried dos, windows, os/2, os/360, solaris and different flavours of linux and all have had their positives and negatives. Over time I learn to live with the platform but never with complete satisfaction. Yes I know that Apple OS is missing from that list, I just could not bring myself to spend the premium to have an Apple. Most apple users I encounter generally speak about Apple with religious fervor which immediately make me skeptical. But nonetheless, Apple OS is the only platform I have not tried and decided that it was time I give it a go.

I purchased an 27″ iMac on the internet and eagerly awaited its arrival. Upon delivery I must admit I was excited. I unpacked the box that contained 5 items and a single power cable, and within a few minutes I had the system up and running. It was a piece of art, beautifully crafted and zen like. It fitted perfectly with my new drive for minimalism. It immediately discovered my wireless network providing me instant access to my googleverse.

I fired up the safari browser and logged into my gmail account, then I tried to open a new tab and I was stuck. I am still not sure how to do that easily with a mouse, without going to the file menu option. I then checked to see if google docs would work, and unfortunately that does not work to well in safari either, so I immediately downloaded google chrome for mac. I then double clicked on the icon that appeared on my desktop and a little window appeared that requested I drag the icon on the left to the icon on the right which I did, and that was it chrome was now installed. Wow! that was pretty easy. But if was that simple and it figured that I wanted to install the application, why did it not just do that instead of forcing me to drag one icon to another? As you can see I can nit pick, you now know what my wife goes thru.

Now that chrome was installed and I re-entered the googleverse, my world was back to normal. I then installed Fusion for my development virtual machines. All that was left now was to copy my Virtual Machines from my Windows 7 laptop to my Mac which sounds easy enough, but it turned out to be a 3 hour ordeal, much of it my own stupidity. I had forgotten to change the Mcfee Firewall settings on my laptop. Once the vmware files were copied fusion instantly reconfigured itself and my development environment was up and running within a minutes. So all in all the move of work related stuff from my windows laptop to the iMac was a pleasurable process thanks to google and vmware fusion. I must admit Fusion is much slicker than windows vmware workstation, it has the same functionality but just integrates better with the host platform.

Next up I needed to reply to email’s and I discovered that my keyboard does not have delete, home, page up and page down keys and how I miss them. But hey, my keyboard looks awesome, feels a bit squishy but is so arty. Who cares that I have got to use 2 keys instead of one, I am minimal.

Next up was getting MSN functioning and that now was no big deal at all. I had to decide on installing MSN 7 or  MSN 8 beta, which is a no brainer since you can never install a microsoft beta if you expect to use the software, nonetheless MSN 7 on mac is very primitive still fulfills my purpose of easy communication with my development peers. If only I could get them to use google talk, I may never have to leave googleverse.

My Mac is just so beautiful, everyday I pause for a moment and admire it. It simple lines, glass and aluminum in perfect balance. No clutter of wires, oo oo oo! Now the rest of my work area just looks like a dump. I may have to redo my whole office so that my iMac has a befitting place to reside in.

Now Mac users always brag about not having to shutdown their machines. They can leave them running for days on end with no slow down in system performance, so I did the same, but by the 4th day, I am sorry to say context changes were much slower. I could hear the harddrive pounding away while I waited for my mouse to respond. Fortunately the waiting was in seconds rather than minutes which is the experience on windows machines, so I am ecstatic. 4 days was all I could do since the system needed a few restarts after software updates. The update process was quite irritating me in that it did not use an update manager and would install updates only when all updates have been downloaded. The 1.5GB update took about 4 days to get done with download failures.

Thus far I have had no need to use any of the software that ships with the iMac, other than finder. The only other piece of Apple equipment I own is an iPod, and I love it except for the iTunes software. iTunes on windows is very quirky and unintuitive. And I especially don’t like the fact that I have to import my music into the iTunes library. As usual Mac users always claimed that iTunes on a mac is much better, so I decided to have a look at iTunes and was very disappointed to discover that it is not that much different from the windows one since you still have to import your music into the iTumes library. What a pain in the ass. Let the damn thing find my music on the hard drive, how difficult can that be if microsoft can do it……

All in all after 7 days, all I can say with conviction is my iMac is beautiful and context changes are as fast as linux……but watch this space as I find some time to play with it further and use the software. I will provide updates of my experiences.

Your comments are most welcome……just be reminded I will ignore religious comments.

From A World Cup To A Better Life

On the 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison. His release was not just the freedom of a single man, it was the freedom of an entire nation. That was the greatest moment in South African history, it was the victory of all that is right and good about humanity. The nation had dreams that finally someone would care about the suffering of the poor and the alleviation of poverty and the general upliftment of all the people within its borders. Now 20 years later our, we have three great achievements to speak of
1. A functioning democracy
2. Vastly improved tax collection system
3. Hosting of a soccer world cup

It seems hosting the world cup is important because the world did not think that an African country at the bottom of the earth could do it. But we did show them that even a African country could pull off a well organised event in a world class manner. I congratulate all those involved with its success, including the national team, Bafana Bafana. It has been the best world cup so far and I am loving it. I am also loving that the people of this wonderful country are enjoying it so much. The smiles on peoples faces, the spring in their steps is reminiscent of that wonderful day of Madiba’s release. Let us enjoy this moment and bask in the glory of its accomplishment.

But underlying all this enjoyment, I have little nagging feeling that I just can’t get rid of. In the middle of all this euphoria, celebration and the lovely Shakira (I love Shakira), I just cannot fully enjoy it. I began to wonder why?

6 years ago, FIFA entrusted my government with a task that the world over thought could not be done by an African nation. The South African government committed people, money, focus, time, drive and passion to fulfill this goal of hosting a soccer world cup. They have exceeded all expectations, but this leaves me with just 1 simple question. If we as a nation have in 6 short years accomplished so much for a frivolous game that provides entertainment, we could with the same amount of intensity, passion and focus change peoples live forever. We could provide the the amazing people of this country homes, water, electricity, health care, education, safety and employment.

I challenge our government to change peoples lives over the next 6 six years, show your country that you can do it! Show the same dedication and drive that brought us a wonderful world cup. You have shown the world that you can pull off a world cup, now lets show our people that we can change all our lives for the better, forever. Let us keep the smiles, the joy, the pride in our nation by delivering on our freedom dreams. South Africa you can do it!

To all soccer lovers around the world enjoy the world cup as much as us Africans are enjoying it!  Viva Bafana Bafana….play with heart, for you are in our hearts…….