The first time I heard the expression ‘sparent’ was six years ago. It was around the same time as my first nephew was born. My brother thought that the idea of sparents was brilliant, especially when there was a particularly hideous nappy to change. In reality it is only the term ‘sparent’ that is new, the concept of caring adults outside of the home has always existed. Unfortunately there are less and less of these people being utilised, despite abundant research showing the significant role that they can play in the life of a child.
Most people remember at least some of their teachers from primary school. I remember every single one. They had a huge effect on me. They’re probably the reason I became a teacher. My favourite was Mr Romeo. He taught me in Years 5 and 6. These days he would be an anomaly. One of the 18.3% of male primary teachers in Australia. And according to recent research, in 50 years his kind will be extinct. There will be no male primary teachers by 2067. Secondary teachers won’t be far behind.
Creativity is the way we move forward personally and as a society. It is the way we show our souls and it is how we solve our tricky problems. What most people don’t realise is that creativity can be learned. Even if people’s creative talent varies. It is a skill like any other that can be practised and improved. So what stops our schools from teaching more creativity?
How can our daughters be so connected, and yet often feel so utterly, utterly alone? That irony surfaced in the research of my book Being 14: Helping fierce teens become awesome women. Interviews with almost 200 of them showed they were permanently connected, living in a world of touch screen and wifi, of devices and apps, of television on demand, music in the pocket, and instant gratification. And that was what they saw as the divider between their generation, and that of their parents.
This week the social media app Snapchat launched Snap Map. It is a location tracking feature. A map shows where users are and sometimes what they are doing, as pictured above.
There has been a lot of media around the release of this update and it has been described as ‘a paedophile’s dream’. Many apps have this geolocation service, however, the upset around this one is that Snapchat is used predominantly by tweens and young teens.
If you had to identify one thing that distinguishes this generation of teens from all those before it, I think it would be their belief in the power of now. They are the generation of instant gratification. If you want to speak to someone, you call them on their mobile device. If you want to see someone, you FaceTime or Skype.
The bombing in Manchester was beyond abhorrent. It defies comprehension that someone could plan an attack that was sure to kill children and the adults caring for them. It is always shocking when innocent people are targeted, but this tragedy poses special problems for parents and those who work with young people.