Misrepresentation

We’ve all possible encountered situations like this before. If you work in the childcare sector, you might find that sometimes when a child is caught out by a lie they have told, they will try to engineer the situation and construct a whole world of belief to alter the evidence to fit their view.

For example, if a boy John is said to have pushed another boy Tom, and Tom mentions it to someone else, when questioned John might be likely to have said things like, “But Tom started it”, “Tom pushed me first”, or something else to the same extent where he tries to impress on the interlocutor that it was not his fault. But even when the evidence points to the contrary – assuming we investigate further – John may or may not then contort the evidence to suggest that even if he did strike Tom, he might have been baited, or taunted in some form and that his actions might have been a reaction to that stimulus.

If it is a young child, we tend to impress on them the fact that lying only causes more problems. You end up digging a big hole for yourself and then the web of lies unravels.

John, in that case, might collapse under questioning and then burst into tears as a last resort if the weight of truth becomes too heavy!

However, what the misrepresenting of truth does is that it colours your dealings with others. If people realise you are not to be trusted, and it has happened before, they will be a bit more cautious about the things you say in the future. If John is found to have repeated that same sort of behaviour later, it might be that eventually he gets trusted less, and unfortunately in life, as he grows up, he may develop that reputation that tars him.

Of course, this is what child education has to involve. We have to teach children to grow out of that behaviour. But perhaps one of the ways to do that is by responsible parenting, to demonstrate to them ourselves that this sort of behaviour is not condoned. In the field of music, it has been demonstrated that if something is internalised, it has a better chance of being applied. (You can read more about this in the Piano Teacher N19 blog.) If we can consistently apply and model to our children the behaviour we want from them, we have a better chance of making them demonstrate it.

World Cup lessons

How did a country with four million people beat a country with over sixty million people to get into the finals of the World Cup? That is the question posed by everyone, and let’s faced it, if you haven’t faced one person talking about it, or come across such conversation while on public transport, that it is conceivable that you have spent the last month in hibernation, missed the scenes of jubilant England celebrations in pubs all across England, and have instead been living in a basement. You can’t have really missed it, and avoided all the back pages of tabloids and broadsheets chronicling the highs and lows of the Lions.

Everyone has been struggling to deal with the loss of the Lions to Croatia. But coming back to the question, how did a country with few people beat a country with an established football team and league, which is arguably the best in the world?

In answering the question, the assumption is that ratio-wise, a country with more people should produce a country with more quality players. In this case you would be right to assume England should have won. But it is not really the players that decide victory. Victory is done to a variety of factors. More of these factors can be found in Croatia. The most important of these is desire.

Footballers in Croatia have to ply their trade overseas to succeed. Of the world cup team representing Croatia, the majority play outside of their country. For those who hope to make it overseas, by being the best in the country, competition is fierce. The most important quality to succeed is hunger. There are many young people training in poorly constructed areas. Prospective footballers have to raise money even sometimes to take part in tournaments. When you have invested a stake in your own success, then there is more drive to succeed.

So it is desire and heart that gives an individual the edge. Taking a reference from a different field, in the realm of classical music, when the strings of the piano, which were suspended on the wooden frame, were switched to a tougher, metal-backed frame, this expanded the potential of piano music by allowing more notes and chordal music to be played. (You can read more about this in the Piano Lessons N4 website.) And without the electric guitar, which toughened up the sound of the acoustic guitar, we would not have the various kinds of music that we have nowadays. It was metal that gave the music mettle!

What can we teach our children then? We can highlight to them that size does not entirely matter, but quality does. It is not the size of the dog in the fight, it is the size of the fight in the dog!

For information that sticks, look for meaning

School trips. Love them or hate them? I suspect that it depends on which side of the equation you are on. The children that go on them would likely be excited at the chance of doing something different, away from the classroom, and not having the “boring” learning, of information thrown at them that they would be forced to absorb in order to pass a test.

For the adults, it might mean anxiety at being out of the classroom, in an environment where you have little control, and have to establish control, in the face of excited students who are seizing upon the opportunity at freedom.

It is funny how adults and children have two different perspectives.

Trips are important though. They are difficult to co-ordinate, involving shepherding children on public transport to places, doing headcounts, making sure children are safe, and generally cause high levels and anxiety for the organising adults. For the children though, it is a meaningful experience and a chance to attain information and internalise it in a meaningful way.

Imagine the students reading about historical events in the classroom. They may have read about the battles in France in Ypres, or Flanders, and learnt how many people died in these battles. But to them, the numbers are just that; statistical information that needs to be recalled for the purpose of writing an essay or passing an exam. But take them on a school trip to Flanders, where you can see the poppy weaths laid out over the fields, and they get a meaningful sense of scale of the wars. Look at the scenery around and visualise what life might have been like, with bombs raining from the sky, and history comes to life and is made more meaningful. And long lasting.

We can take the same approach to anything we encounter in life. By trying to look deeper, and going beyond the obvious factual information, we can create a deeper sense of relevance and meaning. Playing music on the piano? According to Piano Teacher in Finsbury Park, rather than looking at the music as a list of information and instructions on which keys to depress, try and understand the motivation of the person writing it. Why is the music alternately loud and soft? What is the composer trying to depict? What are the circumstances behind the composer’s life? These questions spin off more thought and discussion beyond “Play these sections loud and soft”.

Meaning is everywhere in life. Meaning gives us relevance. But to find it, look beyond the obvious, first-layer of information. And when you find meaning, the information becomes more internalised, relevant, and sticks for longer.

World Cup lessons for children

The World Cup is in full swing and is commandeering the attention of both adults and children alike. Each day the group stages feature two or three matches that take up the whole afternoon and engage everyone’s attention. Children, in particular, sit enraptured with their favourite superstars. You don’t need to be a fan of a particular team to appreciate football, even though it helps – you can watch it just for the game, the love of it, or perhaps to see how matches unfold, like a sports drama. How your team – or the team you support – does, is not necessarily affected by your wins, even though it helps. If you win a few and lose a few, then your fate is dependent on the other teams in your group – which is why you will probably watch them too.

With the football game having such an impact on a short space of time, it is no wonder that kids have an emotional connection with what they see on screen, and may be affected with what they have viewed, whether consciously or subconsciously. If they viewed the Champions League game last month where Sergio Ramos tackled Mo Salah in order to take him out of the game, and escaped unpunished, they may have assimilated the message that is okay to play physical, and to win at all costs. Is this the message that we want to imbibe our kids with? It is finding a balance between teaching them to be tough, and teaching them to dish out physical play, and everyone draws the line in different places.

One of the most inspiring games was the Germany vs South Korea game. On paper, the defending champions were stronger, but the South Koreans displayed that tenacity, confidence and the will never to give up fighting that they ground out a 2-0 shock win. The Germans, who had triumphed previously, were perhaps a little too reliant on past reputations and might have thought that alone would have been enough. Some may question whether Neuer’s actions sabotaged his team’s chances, like the conductor, pianist and music composer¬†Antonio Salieri sabotaged Mozart’s, but nevertheless it was an inspiring game because it can teach our children you should never take anything for granted, your past reputation counts for nothing, and if you keep trying and working hard, you can achieve a good result.

New ideas can arise from the old. Germany is in a transitional stage, bridging the old with the new, and maybe from the ashes of this team a new improved one will arise.

Enjoy the rest of the World Cup everyone!