Children need routines and rituals MOUNT SINAI COLLEGE PHIL ROBERTS Children need routines and rituals I read a book by Mason Currey last year entitled Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work. He makes mention of many figures past and present one of whom was Beethoven who rose each morning at dawn and made himself coffee made with 60 beans he counted out. He would compose to 2pm or 3pm and go for a long walk. Each night after supper he’d have a beer, smoke a pipe and go to bed at 10pm. Mozart ensured his hair was always done by 6am and by 7am and he was fully dressed. He then composed until 9am. From 9am to 1pm he gave lessons. Meanwhile, Japan’s greatest contemporary novelist, Haruki Murakami wakes at 4am every morning and works for 5 to 6 hours straight. In the afternoon, he runs or swims, reads and listens to music. Bedtime is 9pm. “I keep to this routine every day without variation” he said in interview. “The repetition itself becomes the important thing – it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerise myself to reach a deeper state of mind”. Currey’s point is simple. Most productive, creative people have daily rituals. These form the soil in which the seeds of their invention grow. Novelists, artists, religious leaders, sportsmen and women all have their routines and rituals which drive them. There are the daily rituals and then there are the milestone rituals but both serve a purpose and give meaning to
kids’ lives. No culture and few individuals live without ritual. Rituals exists on many levels - the inaugurations of presidents, student graduations, Bar and Batmitzvahs, the rituals of temples, mosques and synagogues, rituals when we lose someone or something that is close to us. While large, public rituals might be vulnerable to commercialisation, tedium or cynicism, they can also be freighted with significance. Ritual can be spiritually-centred or secular in nature. Daily ritual or routine can be synonymous with a level of self-control. A recent Scientific American article suggests that many of our most vexing problems, from overeating to not saving enough for retirement to not exercising enough have something in common: lack of self-control. Self-control is what gives us the capacity to say no to choices that are immediately gratifying but costly in the long term—that piece of chocolate cake (instead of an apple), that afternoon in front of the couch (instead of a visit to the gym). Despite our best intentions, we often fail to meet our lofty goals. Disciplined routines can assist in developing self-control. Daily rituals and routines can assist with motivation and become self-fulfilling. Footballers for example, often go through their own ritual before a game. Self-motivation theory is concerned with supporting our natural or intrinsic tendencies to behave in effective and healthy ways. People are centrally concerned with motivation — how to move themselves
Teaching professional ethics through the lens of the Holocaust SYDNEY JEWISH MUSEUM Learning is a skill that does not end with formal education, but a pursuit that one continues to grow with throughout their life. The Sydney Jewish Museum sees lifelong education as an incredible way to support professionals, build personal character and improve job performance. Over 20 years, the Museum’s Educators have developed a customisable program for the continuing education of professionals from a range of fields, such as healthcare, law enforcement, interfaith and corporate businesses. Taking the lessons from the Holocaust on ethics, responsible leadership and good decision making, program participants are presented with directly relevant and applicable concepts and skills to inform their civil and professional responsibilities, and duties to their clients, patients, employees
and communities. Professionals who attend the Museum’s programs are encouraged to reflect on and discuss the critical factors that influence choices people make and our actions in complex environments. Teaching through the lens of the Holocaust enables program participants to raise difficult ethical questions and find sources of motivation, resilience and identity in a supportive space. Participants also hear testimony from a Holocaust survivor as part of their seminar. This brings a human element to history for those who did not live through it themselves. Whilst the stories of the Holocaust evoke very personal emotions for the participants, the Museum’s Educators also find they have an overwhelming power to affect change. To give your staff a soul-stirring experience with relevant and practical outcomes, contact Sandy Hollis on firstname.lastname@example.org or 9360 7999.
Photograph by Giselle Haber
or others to act. Everywhere, parents, teachers, coaches, and managers struggle with how to motivate those that they mentor, and individuals struggle to find energy, mobilize effort and persist at the tasks of life and work. People are often moved by external factors such as reward systems, grades, evaluations, or the opinions they fear others might have of them. Yet, just as frequently, people are motivated from within, by interests, curiosity, care or abiding values. These intrinsic motivations are not necessarily externally rewarded or supported, but nonetheless they can sustain passions, creativity, and sustained efforts. The interplay between the extrinsic forces acting on persons and the intrinsic motives and needs inherent in human nature is the territory of Self-Determination Theory and it may well be that rituals form a part of those who have better intrinsic motivation. The saying is famous – genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration. The paradigm-shifting scientific discovery, the path-breaking research, the wildly successful new product, the brilliant novel, the award-winning film, the medal winning performance - are almost always the result of many years of long hours of ritualised practice and attention to detail. And developing routine and rituals helps in all of this development. Being creative - being good at one what does - involves extraordinary hard work and hard work needs to be ritualised. The people who
change the world, or their own lives for the better, whether in small or epic ways, are those who turn a great idea, a transformative thought, a glimpse of a project into daily routines, who know that the details matter, and who have developed the discipline of hard work, sustained over time. In terms of growing up, we sure need milestone rituals for our mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. While there has been a move away from some religious ceremonies, people still need milestone rituals to mark major points in their life. Ceremonies are an expression of culture - mechanisms which express and generate love, forge and declare the bond between individuals, and establish and identify community. According to psychiatrist and author Abigail Brenner, “The simple act of participating actively in our own lives is a giant step toward taking back personal responsibility for how we choose to live, with who we choose to share our experiences and for how we choose to define ourselves in our community and in our world.” Rituals brings families together, to celebrate our histories and customs, to eat and share foods that remind us of our heritage, they usher us into adulthood and simply bring joy. Daily routines give kids the discipline they need to meet the daily challenges and makes them realise that endeavour and hard work equals outcome. And that’s no bad thing!
The gift of the game ANDY KILOV, SPEECH PATHOLOGIST School is back and our children are returning to their school routines, extra curricular activities, and homework commitments. While a focused mood sets in as Term 1 unfolds, the fun fair from holidays does not need to end. In the words of Roald Dahl, “life is more fun if you play games”, and indeed, the entertainment and enjoyment of playing games certainly does make life more fun. What’s even better, is that whilst playing games and having fun, children and adults can also be enriching social activity, cognitive growth, and taking up opportunities to acquire new knowledge and hone new skills. Playing games with other people offers opportunities to be social. Whilst some games can be played solo, most games rely on a pair or a group of other players. The beauty of interactive games lies in the sequence of turn taking, adherence to shared rules, and social dialogue that occurs whilst the game is in motion. Players take turns to make a move or decision in response to a set of rules and options. As players make decisions and proceed with turns, the game invites cheers of victory, banter, and opinions from opponents, which revolve around a set of core phrases and game- specific vocabulary. So, in addition to facilitating social interaction, games also offer opportunities to extend our ability to learn new words, use new phrases, and justify or challenge our position in the game through vocalisations, gestures, or complex articulation sequences. And yet, when communication or other barriers
exist, we can still find ways to be inclusive in a game because after all… players are able to create new rules and adapt to new conditions of play. The scope of cognitive benefits offered through playing games is tremendous. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that playing games improves brain health and brain function (Fissler, et al, 2015). When we play games, we are required to learn and remember a set of rules, and then act on these rules whilst the game unfolds in a (mostly) unpredictable manner. Players are continuously planning and evaluating outcomes of the game, and strategizing how to score the most points or simply ‘stay ahead’. This requires extensive use of concentration and memory, multitasking and problem solving, and activation of mental arithmetic, linguistic, and visual perception skills. As the game progresses, the demands and utilisation of these processes varies so that by the end of the game, cognitive strengthening has occurred incidentally whilst players reap social, emotional, and educational benefits of being a part of the game. There is a substantial assortment of games available in the classroom, on the sport field, using technology, and set up on the table top at home. Each game brings a unique set of rules, educational outcomes, cognitive challenges and social opportunity for any player… no matter how often the game is (or not) played! A game always has a gift to give, even when you don’t intend to indulge… so the next time you are watching or playing a game, take a few moments to consider what gifts have been bestowed upon you!