How the context of TV and home life affect learning

In the last post I wrote this week, I mentioned that my mom taught me to read a chapter in the book of Proverbs everyday when I was in Third Grade.    With 31 chapters that works nicely to blow through the book each month.

Some of these words of wisdom were easy for a young girl, pre-teen, teen, and young woman to understand.  But within the proper context?  Oh no.  I grew up in the 1970’s and ’80’s in small town Pennsylvania.

Passages like, A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest– that gets repeated 8 chapters later in Proverbs chapter 24 came in handy growing up.  I distinctly remember laying down for a nap after school and not being able to fall asleep because these words were playing in my head.  I got up and completed my home work.  But then words like a quarrelsome wife disturbed me because that pretty much describe the very woman who taught me to read this book.

To add to this confusion I read the epilogue of the excellent wife with the context of my TV experience of watching Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, The Bionic Woman in addition to Wonder Woman sponsored by the Enjoli commercials.

October 31, 2017 will mark the 500th Anniversary of  Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 Theses on to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church door.   This even often marks the beginning of the Protestant Reformation that explains why so many different types of Christian churches exist today.  What most of these descending churches emphasizes is to read the Bible, just like my mom taught me.

But if we are all reading out of context like I, are we in need of yet another reformation?  If one of the genuine reasons why the Catholic Church resisted placing the Bible into the hands of the general public was that they couldn’t read, well we need to be concerned in 2016 too.  If programs like The Children’s Trust Read To Learn are needed because the reading statistics are that bad,  then I’m sympathetic to the Catholics who were concerned of misinterpretations and misuse.

I love the advances and conveniences of technology.  In some ways it’s improving our ability to read and write.  But in others its making it worse.  But let me lighten up a bit and finish with a recent story that refers back to my point about how our personal experiences often define the context by which we interpret and experience learning and life overall.  Perhaps you can identify with a similar decision you made based on your personal experiences prior to.

My daughter and I recently visited Disney in Orlando.  We had two full days to enjoy the parks.   We had purchased a Water Park Fun and More Option which gave us not one but two days to enjoy their water parks.  Well we only had two days and maybe 2 hours of a third.  Given the first we chose to spend at Epcot, we had to choose between Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.

I had never been to either water park.  But since I had moved to South Florida for the warm humid climate because I developed such bad chronic sinusitis up North, I couldn’t quite fathom being able to enjoy Blizzard Beach. So, I opted for Typhoon Lagoon instead.

We soaked in an exciting day at Typhoon Lagoon.  We marveled at all the great Disney Decor and landscaping we saw as we sauntered down the paths and hiked up the stairwells to feel the adrenal rushes as we zoomed down the various slides.

I also overheard the conversations.  Some complained that Blizzard Beach was better.  Really?  Hmm. We have that second day privilege and a few hours we could maybe squeeze a trip in there before we hit the road…

Being brainwashed to think, “I can do it all and have it all” by the TV programming in the 1970’s, I couldn’t be left behind not knowing for myself.  So, I planned a crazy day that kicked off with a morning visit at Blizzard Beach.

I’m so glad we did.  I felt foolish that I thought the decor would translate into cold dry air.  I was completely wrong.  In fact, it was the exact environment that I needed to be able to introduce my daughter on how to use a ski lift and what to expect (kind of) when she finally gets an opportunity to go skiing up North (without me of course).  And gee, that ski lift sure made my life a lot easier from pushing  my family tube up the stairs as I climbed.

So don’t let your valid fears based on YOUR past childhood and life keep you from experiencing more fun in life.  And don’t allow your limited context of knowledge growing up in the 20th Century and living in the fast paced craziness of the 21st Century keep you from reading great ancient texts properly within context.  Slow down take the time to “Listen and Learn.”


Too busy and therefore stressed out?

I accepted invitations to several fantastic events in an 8 day period. Quite honestly, it was ridiculous how much I crammed in.  My motive was selfish like it usually is.  I grew up watching Wonder Woman advertised by Enjoli.

“I can bring home the bacon.  Fry it up in the pan.  And make you never forget that you’re a man.  ‘Cause I’m a woman…Enjoli.” 

There you have it.  I’m growing  up in the 1970’s with my female role models on television Lynda Carter, the actress for Wonder Woman and the actress for Enjoli .  The breaks from the show burned into my head the message that I can do it all and have it all by a jingle powerfully set to the master of learning: music and visual screen.

Is it a wonder that Gordon Dahl wrote this critique of American work and worship more than thirty-six years ago (1972)?

“Most middle-class Americans tend to worship their work; work at their play; and play at their worship. That which we worship, we serve, and that which we serve we will give our all–heart, soul, mind and body.”

Reflecting this morning makes me think that maybe the loss of the middle class might not be such a bad thing if we were that brainwashed and misled.

I witness too many well intended parents signing their children up for this and that.  Driving here and there in horrible traffic.  And therefore stressing themselves and their children out.

What happens when we are too busy?  We don’t have time to listen to others and to mind our manners.  I’m so rushed to get done what I need to accomplish that I skip “How are you?” and just jump to what I want.  When was the last time you asked this question you were willing to hear the answer?

It’s an American cultural embarrassment that we really don’t want people to answer this question.  We have lost our manners and therefore lost the respect of those around the world who do mean what they say.

Isn’t that what irritates me the most about some?  They can sit around all day to talk.  There’s no question I want you to hear what I have to say.  I’m a woman, a recovering misguided religious zealot, and a writer.  Of course I have too much to say!  But do I care enough about you to hear about what you have to say?  Now that’s humbling.

And then we wonder why we are so lonely.  We have destroyed the very fabric of relationships.  Relationships don’t work when ego rules.  I believe this is why its such a hot topic these days to call your partner, boss, or parent  narcissists.  The biggest problem is that we all narcissists to some degree.  Have you observed how we behave right out of the womb? Feed me, hold me, cloth me, xyz me. It’s part of our human nature.  This is why the sea bird scene in Finding Nemo is so funny  and therefore outside of the ride at Epcot. img_7427

The wise words to be slow to speak but quick to understand are what the late Stephen R. Covey built his 5th Habit from for a reason. It just good manners.  Of which we have become to busy to practice.

The resulting consequences are disastrous.  In our misguided beliefs that we can do it all and have it all, we have raised privileged self-centered children who often need therapy due to their resulting anxiety and depression issues.   Students who lack respect of teachers and authority.  Workers who lack respect for bosses.  Residents who disrespect governing leaders.  People who kill cops.  And presidential candidates who name call and bully their opponents.

Thankfully, I had a mother who taught me to read a chapter in the book of Proverbs every day.

Parents, what you teach your children when they are young may not defeat the culture, but it will instill a consciousness and a basis for a heart in your child.  Let’s get back to being great parents, because our mainstream technological culture lacks a soul.  But remember to first practice what you preach.   Slow down.  Practice saying, “No thank you.” Choose your commitments wisely.  Change them when you realize it’s too much.  And most of all grow up yourself by healing the broken hurting child inside of you.

-author of Rojo, The Baby Red Panda at the Zoo



International Red Panda Day (aka Special Days)


No, it wasn’t “Labrador Day.”  That was “Labor Day.”  Yes, I still love you,  but you aren’t an endangered species.  Special days like International Red Panda Day are set aside to draw awareness to issues that have been overlooked or need attention.  Ok, yes then there are days, like Mother’s Day,  Father’s Day, and Grandparent’s Day that have been named in order to make money.

Speaking of such, don’t be like the mothers, fathers, and grandparents who get easily get their feelings hurt on those days because a card didn’t arrive.  That’s not the point.  In fact that’s one of the messages  I wrote about in Rojo and why The Red Panda Network gave it a rave review.

The point is we have the privilege to celebrate special days for special individuals who have made great contributions to history, like Martin Luther King Jr.(MLK Jr.) Day, living organisms who are endangered, or special issues like Bully Prevention Month (which is next month by the way). These are days were we can learn more about why we “should” care or try to make a difference.

So that’s what we’re doing to do!  First learn more ourselves, share that learning with others, and most importantly have a great time doing it.

First stop is today at The Girl Scout Family Festival Miami-Dade North at Palm Springs United Methodist 5700 W 12th Ave., Hialeah, FL 33012 from 5:00-8:00 PM.  Thanks to Thrivent Financial we’ll be raffling off copies of Rojo, The Baby Red Panda at the Zoo and some t-shirts.


Next stop is Saturday, September 17, 2016 from 1:00-5:30 PM at Metro Zoo Miami outside the new gift shop.  Which you don’t have to buy a ticket to enter the zoo to visit.  Its right outside the entrance where you can enjoy the new flamingo exhibit.

Lastly, try a more humble approach.  Be willing to listen and learn from others instead of wishing it were you getting all the attention. We love you more than you can imagine.  Don’t waste your time with low life attitudes like jealousy and resentment.  Channel your anger into a great cause like saving red pandas instead.

*4 photos in the collage depicted in the first image are compliments of Brian Heath.  A random dad who shared his photos with me the day I took most of the photos of the late Shama at the National Zoo that I used when illustrating Rojo.  You’re a better photographer than I Brian.  Thanks so much for sharing your talented hobby with me.  It was a pleasure to meet you and your family that day.