Monday, March 11, 2013

Shiloh's 1st "Big Out"

Sandy River Delta, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon.  March 8, 2013.

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Consequences v. Punishments

Gresham, Oregon.  January 17, 2011.

Saw this article and the short comment I intended to post with it on Facebook grew a bit longer than I’d initially intended, so I am throwing it up here instead…

Discipline Vs Punishment: What Outcome Do We Really Want?:

If a child creates a disturbance, bothers others, does anything for which punishment is considered a deterrent, this is evidence that, at the very least, the adult's goals have no relevance to the child's feeling at the moment. It may indicate that the child bears resentments against controlling adults, or against other people in general. Punishment can only secure conformity to goals which are neither felt nor valued by the child. The order secured by punishment or threat of punishment may satisfy the adult, but it can only teach conformity to the child, and it will almost inevitably produce resentment. Such resentment may be one of the most common and important aspects of growing up in our culture.

This is a decent article and I agree with the defined difference between "discipline" and "punishment."  The article gets it mostly right but I feel it suffers some because it fails to point out that a part of teaching discipline is imposing consequences for actions in situations where natural consequences may not be obvious to the child.

Quite often, parents are stuck in a position where the adult's goals are never going to have any relevance to the child that the child can perceive, but are important nevertheless.  Sometimes these are even health and safety issues, such as safe behavior in public spaces or even simple things like eating one’s vegetables at dinner.

In these cases, it is critical that the parent can provide consequences for the child that can help the child understand what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable, safe or unsafe, healthy or unhealthy, to provide relevance to the child in situations where the child may not be able to recognize relevance at that point in their mental and emotional development.

But I agree that there is an important, but fine and fuzzy, line between consequences and punishments, and that every effort should be made to connect the consequences with the behaviors that need correcting.

Unfortunately, these are usually the very situations where the child will often have the hardest time understanding the connection.  Since they may not understand why they need to change their behavior in the first place, it is hard to form a connection between the consequence and the behavior that will seem natural to them, and quite often, though we are doing our best, our imposed consequences will seem, to the child, to be the random punishments spoken against in the article.

Still, it is important that we do this when necessary.  There is a reason why most kids do not live on their own until they are 18 or older.  It is because they need parents to provide these boundaries and to teach them the discipline they need to survive on their own.

Of course, the key to this is to teach the child the self-discipline referred to in the article.  This is the long term goal.  The real difference between punishments and consequences is that the former is easy and the latter requires more effort on the part of the parent.  It requires sitting down with the child and discussing what happened and why, later on when emotions have cooled, but not too much later when memories of the event in question have softened.  It requires having consistent consequences for targeted behaviors, so the child knows what to expect when he or she acts in certain ways, and it requires some creativity to make the consequences as relevant as possible to the behaviors in question, to feel as natural as possible to the child.

It also requires building trust with the child from the earliest ages on, so when we, as parents, say “don’t do that” the child feel comfortable that we have good reasons for setting the boundaries and having the behavioral expectations we have for them, reducing the need to impose consequences to enforce compliance with our boundaries and expectations.

Children are children, though, not little adults, and because of this, from time to time, all else will fail and we will have to impose consequences that are essentially punishments for their actions.  However, this too is a part of learning how to survive in the world. 

As the kids grow up, in school the consequences for non-compliance tend to be more punitive, especially as they grow older.  As they head out into the world, there are punishments for non-compliance at work, you get fired.  There are punishments for non-compliance with the law, you get fined or go to jail or prison.  Punishments are a part of the world we are preparing them for, and it is important that they learn this too.

As I’ve said, there will also be times when the only way to get the child to comply will be through consequences that feel more punitive in nature, and it is important that we don’t flinch when these times come.  But it is critical that we lead with love and not anger, with the desire to teach more than the desire to punish.  Still, from time to time, our kids will be angry with us because they will not understand, and we’ll feel guilty for not finding the magic, fabled sentence that could have redirected the situation before such consequences became necessary, and sometimes we’ll just get it plain wrong.  We are humans and we make mistakes too.

It is a fine and fuzzy line, but if we keep this in mind and put in the extra effort, many more times than not it will work out exactly as it is supposed to and, eventually, the child and adult will get through these things stronger and better prepared for the next incident that comes along than we were before.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

What’s next? Another video, some editing, & some writing…

From Rubble: What’s next? Another video, some editing, & some writing…

Lowering through the smoke.   Big Lava Bed.  Skamania Co., Washington.  September 16, 2012.
Forgot to set my clock for the time change and now my computer is running slow.  Annoying morning.  Rushing to get out the door for church (or not) and, later, an old friend’s memorial service.

But I wanted to take a few minutes (precious minutes) to pause and take stock for a minute…

Finished my Dead Can Dance video last week.  A LOT of hard work went into that, all during a very hectic time in my life.  I am proud of it, but I know that it is not what it should be.

At first I was very relieved that it was done and I was looking forward to being able to really take some down time and to re-focus my attention on some family issues (the little one is having a pretty rough time right now and, of course, part two of the great move…) and on still photography and writing…

This was supposed to be the first time since mid-October when I didn’t have a big project deadline hanging over my head and big ticket life stuff going along at the same time.

Of course, there is still the whole chore of getting a house, but we are taking a time out from that endeavor to focus on getting stabilized as a family after all of the big ticket items going down since November.

However, with my video, at the last moment I realized that it might not be eligible to win because of the sculptures I used in it.  It was all public art (or visible from the street, at the very least) and I thought that it would be all right to use those images without releases.  However, a closer look at the fine print, and it might not be.

So, if my video is selected as a finalist or as the winner, there may be a crazy 72 hours running around trying to get clearances for the sculptures in the video.  However, unfortunately, I don’t think it is going to be an issue.

I wanted to spend a lot of time working on the editing for that piece, and it ended up being a last minute rush job because real life intruded heavily the week before the deadline.  I sort of feel like I submitted a first draft, not a final draft. 

Because of these two issues, I am left feeling really unfulfilled after all of the work I put in.

Genero has another video project up, though, that I would really like to work on.  I can use a lot of footage I shot for the Dead Can Dance video, shoot a little bit of new stuff, and bang this one out pretty quick with proper time to edit the thing.

In some ways, it will feel like a re-do of the Dead Can Dance video.  Not really, because it will be exploring slightly different themes, so maybe it is more like a follow up? 

Considering all the unused footage I have left from Dead Can Dance, some lessons learned while working on the DCD piece, and the fact that it is a shorter song, this should be a project I can knock down without disrupting our lives too much between now and the April deadline.

And it doesn’t feel like a big crazy deadline project because of this, though there will still be a little bit of dropping everything and running during the three or four days of sunshine we have between now and the deadline.  Need more time lapse footage!

Of course, it does look like I am allowed to re-tweak the Dead Can Dance video and re-upload it.  The deadline is met, but I can still modify the thing, apparently.  However, I need a couple more days distance before deciding whether or not to spend a crazy 24 hours or so re-cutting the damn thing.

Pretty much I feel like I’ve done the work I can put in on this one and that it is time to move on, though if a couple small changes might help it, then maybe…   However, I am not going so far as to take the worrisome sculptures out, because that would involve re-thinking the whole video.  I could do this, but it would not be the video I wanted to make at all.

Then there is the writing.  After the two big video projects (One Day On Earth and the Dead Can Dance video), I need to get back on finishing the first draft of my novel! 

A plan has evolved.  First I will re-emerse myself in the novel through this month’s National Novel Editing Month, and then I will finish the first draft during April’s Camp NaNoWriMo.

This is something of a change in direction for me.  I haven’t looked at the thing since the first week of December or so, so I knew I’d have to go back and at least read the draft I have so far, but then I discovered that a group is running  NaNoEdMo this month (National Novel Editing Month).  My first reaction was that I did not want to get bogged down with editing the first 2/3 of the book before I’d written the ending…

Yet, since there will have to be some reading this month anyway, and that will be accompanied by some red inking and notes…  So yes, I do have a fair amount of editing to do this month, one way or the other, before I feel comfortable resuming the actual writing.   

A late start, yes, but NaNoEdMo is on.   I am still setting this up, but I know this so far.  There will not be any attempt to reach some crazy goal.  I am not going for a “win” here.  I will try to get to the end of the draft with a bunch of red inking and some minor notes, and that is about it.

So why participate in the first place?  Well, NaNoWriMo was a wonderful experience where I could interact with other people who were having the same experience I was with their artistic efforts.  I haven’t had that sense of community with my last two project and, well, I miss it.

Sure, I post a lot of crazy manic stuff about my projects on Facebook, but no one there really can relate (or cares that much, let’s be honest!).  But with NaNoWriMo, people did relate because, in those forums, they were all going through the exact same thing…

This is all in prep for the April Camp NaNoWriMo, and I’ll be using that venue to finish the damn book.  This is cool because, unlike November’s NaNoWriMo, this event has variable goals, and I can set them to meet the projected length of the novel.

Right now I am aiming for 110,000 words.  That will involve some significant cuts during NaNoEdMo and a rather economical run to the end of the novel.  I am worried that it will be hard to fit it all in in 30K words, but there may be up to 20K that I can trim (10K is more likely) this month.
So, I am looking at up to about 50,000 words to churn out in April, but I think it will go quickly, once I am settled back into the world of the book and, from where I left off to the end, everything is practically written in my head already.  It is just a matter of banging through to the end.


Camp NaNoWriMo:

Dead Can Dance Video:

Olafur Arnalds Video:

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