•on August 13th, 2010
Dirt is good. It makes you happier. It improves learning ability, improves memory, makes for better moods and feelings of wellbeing, and reduces anxiety. How’s that for a concept?
More accurately and specifically, it’s the natural soil bacteria mycobacterium vaccae that is considered of benefit. The bacteria are likely to be ingested or breathed in while participating in outdoor activities such as gardening. The bacteria increases serotonin levels, at least in mice. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that affects mood and feelings of wellbeing. Serotonin improves learning and decreases anxiety.
Researchers believe people may experience the same benefits when they participate in outdoor activities where natural soil bacteria are present. The researchers also speculated how the school learning environment could be enhanced by children spending more time outdoors as this may decrease anxiety and improve the ability to learn new tasks.
So this weekend, spend some time in the garden or biking through the forest – weather permitting. And schools – think how you could use this information to improve the learning of children. I am sure there are many boys in particular who would learn better just from being able to be outside digging in the dirt, independently of bacteria.
In Penrith, Australia a man was holding his baby while talking to his parents when a car ploughed into them http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVBi2t5e_1g The parents were knocked unconscious and took time to recover from injuries but amazingly the man and his baby son were unharmed. Instinct took over as the car slammed into them and the man turned his body to protect his son. We all have this instinct to protect those we love and it is especially strong with our children. It’s great to know we will instinctively do the best we can in the moment.
•on November 23rd, 2009
A long weekend in Christchurch and the chance to spend time with family. The chance to note how a child has grown into a beautiful young woman and a boy has grown into an impressive young man. And its only months since I last saw them, and only a few years since they were little kids - it happens so quickly. It reminds us as a family that two little family members on the weekend, two pre-school boys, will grow, then grow up. The characteristics of men they will become are already shining through.
And so we hope that their pathway stays true and they become the men they are capable of becoming.
In every life things happen, things go wrong. It happens to us all. It can make us what we become. The difficulties and adversities we face can be the very things that strengthen us and become the springboard to us achieving special things in our lives. But when it happens when children are too young, or when it happens over and over and over so that a child is beaten down it can all be too much to endure. Sometimes the source of the pain is a teacher who shouldn’t be teaching. Sometimes it can be other children such as the 11-year old I read about today http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch/3086780/Bullying-claim-as-girl-quits-school in the Christchurch newspaper The Press. The girl felt persecuted by her entire class. They called her “the ugly bitch” and an email had suggested she kill herself.
We all grow up with negative “stuff” in our lives. If it’s a problem then something can be done. The tangles can be untangled and we can tread the pathways we were originally intended to tread. Pain from the past can be erased in the present and negative emotions can be released. But it would be nice, wouldn’t it, if our children didn’t have to go through this in the first place? If all children could feel loved and respected and valued by their peers and the adults in their lives.