Mindful Walking

“I know the Earth is my mother; a great living being.  I vow to protect the Earth, and the Earth protects me.”
This invitation by Thay to infuse our walking with loving mindfulness is perfect as the weeks of rain clear and we may be walking more than we have recently.  As we walk and remember our interbeing with all that we see, and notice the changes since our last walk, we can feel deep gratitude for the protection our great Mother Earth offers us, and strengthen our resolve to do what we can to preserve this precious planet.  
Thay also invites us to walk with full awareness of our love for the Earth:
 
“Each step can express your love for the Earth.  As you walk, you can say 
‘I love the Earth.  I am in love with the Earth.’”
“With both body and mind present as we take each step, when we are fully present, every step, placed gently, and mindfully on Mother Earth can bring us a lot of healing and happiness…
…We’re not stepping on something inanimate… in every speck of dust or grain of sand there are countless bodhisattvas… …we can be in contact through our feet with the Great Bodhisattva Mother Earth.  
     ‘With each step, I come home to the Earth.
With each step, I return to my source.
With each step, I take refuge in Mother Earth.’ “
This morning, I held 2 gazaneas, 3 buttercups, my child’s hat, her umbrella that she has become accustomed to bringing, the dog lead, and a small Koala.  I was so grateful that she had decided against also bringing her A2 sized laminated alphabet chart in the walk as she’d contemplated, as I did what I could to incorporate the essence of this beautiful practice into my daily life.  
 How do you enjoy the kissing our Mother Earth with imprints of reverence  and gratitude as you walk?
These quotations are from “Love Letter to The Earth” but I can’t check the date of publication as darling Miss Two is ‘reading’ it right now in this wonderful moment.

The illness and some cures

I’m sick of people referring to their kids as little terrors or monsters. Of expecting their 6 month old babies to self soothe. Of asking for advice on how to be able to get their kids used to less human connection.

I’m sick of seeing babies in prams with screens in front of them. I’m sick of hearing parents use power-over and fear tactics with their children. I’m sick of crappy gender stereotyping through clothes and toys.

I’m sick of parents asking on parenting groups about what “stuff” to buy for their kids.

I’m sick of the chilling impact on the early years of human life that capitalism and ecological terrorism is having. I’m sick of the pressure that keeping on top of basic living costs is putting on parents.

I want to see a world where parenting is regarded as THE most important job. Where the people doing it are supported financially and by community to do it to their best ability. Where everything we know about secure attachment, neuropsychology, and our deepest needs for love and belonging, informs the core motivation of how we raise our children.

I want to see extreme overhauls of our education systems so that teachers are upheld to support the biologically wired, natural and beautiful blossoming of innately intelligent, good, active humans.

I want to see a medical system that supports families to have great nutrition, sleep, and spiritual support before labels and prescriptions.

I want to see a world where we understand the value of unstructured time together. The value of parents having time to breathe, alone with themselves. The value of free play.

I want to live in a world where we know that we’re all in this together.

Not a big ask. And I know I’m not alone in this wish.

“Mum, would you like to smile?”

These are the first words I heard this morning.

Followed by “there you go Mama, so lovely”.

I say ‘this morning’ in reference to the time after birds had started.

All the talking in wake and sleep that happened between 2:00 am and the birds shall be known as night talking. Night talking is not to be encouraged, as cute as some of the stuff is (Mummy I draw a beautiful pitcha on your aaaaaaaaarm); and shall not be spoken of again.

But that morning invitation to smile. Oh!

Thay makes the same invitation in the morning prayer:

Waking up this morning I smile

Twenty four brand new hours are before me

I vow to live mindfully in each moment

And to look at all beings with eyes of compassion

The beautiful hand made poster of this recitation that I used to have stuck beside the bed was long ago removed by a curious baby. Some days I remember to start the day with a smile to this poem, many days I’m swept up with the earliest demands.

Today they synthesised and my smile was so big, my presence in the moment so true; my gratitude for the life I have so visceral. Whatever the day brings, it started with a smile, and a smile to the invitation to smile.

Being awake since 2:00 is going to be ok…

Maths is hard for girls

This is a forum post I wrote for uni after collecting data on gender bias in the classroom. Mr Andrews is a fictitious teacher, but his unconscious bias demonstrated for learning purposes in the video stirred me up.

Based on data collected using the duration recording technique, I measured that overall Mr Andrews spent more than twice as much time talking to boys than girls during the maths lesson.

He also interacted with boys twice as many times as he did with girls.

He only ever addressed the class as a whole as ‘guys’, called the boys by their names often but called girls ‘darling’, gave twice as much positive feedback, to boys, with multiple repetitions of ‘excellent, well done, good boy’ for correct answers, and even a whole-class round of applause for one boy; where girls giving correct answers were often responded to with a neutral ‘ok’. Mr Andrews offered boys extra vocab and very close help, including holding the protractor for them, giving physical examples of angles, pointing to the page, giving them the answer then praising them for getting it right, even writing the answer in for one boy. When it was time to move on to text book work, he walked the boy over to the books and gave a detailed explanation, and for a girl he just gave a short verbal instruction. At least three times, girls with their hands up were ignored, and even when a boy gave a wrong answer but had the first letter right, Mr Andrews said ‘it starts with R, that’s exactly right’. He allowed boys to talk over girls, and when didn’t give girls anywhere near the same level of scaffolded prompting he gave to boys. He also made much closer physical contact with the boys.

Overall, he seemed to convey that he believed it was important for the boys to get it, and that they at least needed to believe in their right to believe in their own abilities.  Sadly for the girls in the class, their understanding doesn’t seem to be as highly valued.  This is likely to set them up to believe that it doesn’t matter if they don’t get it, that they’re not expected to get it as well as the boys, and that they don’t deserve the same airspace as they boys in class.  Obviously this narrows their options in terms of career paths and course choices in university if they have been taught reduced self efficacy in STEM subjects.  Being patronised for wanting to engage in their learning, whilst boys are being given so much extra support increases the disparity.  This is so unhealthy for the classroom ecology, not just for the girls, but for the boys as well.  Male privilege is unearned and harmful to society, so having it normalised within an educational setting during childhood makes it a bigger job for these children to undo as their agency increases in life.  Grooming young males to believe in their own entitlement as being a higher priority than that of females underpins domestic and sexual violence, as well as disparity in workplaces and governments.  So I believe it is imperative that teachers are working to redress this consciously and fairly in our approach to the students in our classrooms.