Sunday, 3 February 2013

Put cuddling back in the curriculum!

Anyone who knows our family will know that we are a pretty kissy and cuddly lot. I love the fact that my boys are very free with their affection, and one of the lovely things about our home ed community is that people hug one another, a lot!

The big kids hug the little kids and give them piggy backs. The young kids cuddle the still younger ones. The grown ups love and care for one another, and each others children too.

It all sounds very rosy and peachy doesn't it? Well actually it is just like that. Really!

And it always shows when we get together with schooled kids, just how uptight school makes them in a way and they seem to melt a little and enjoy the fact that they don't actually have to pretend to be all macho with their buddies, a hug is ok - it's safe and fun and not something dangerous or harmful!
No need for manly hand-shakes when a good ol' squeeze feels better. Oxytocin is the substance and currency that flows round our body and gives us feel-good endorphins that boost our immunity - so why not hug? Everyone should just walk round hugging everyone else all day long if you ask me!

I fear that in order to 'toughen up' the nations kids, by it's very structure and organization, strict timetabling denies kids the daily, stretched out, health-sustaining dose of cuddles they need for their health. Teachers are not really allowed to cuddle any more. They're not even allowed to put a f*cking plaster on them for fear of inappropriateness! We've become so paranoid that our poor kiddies generally have to wait till they come home to get a much-needed cuddle - and often by then they have become a little anaesthatized to that core need. The very human need for touch.

No matter how loving parents are at home, I wonder sometimes if school progressively intellectualizes our little ones out of the emotional sphere - teaching kids to rise above all that babyish nonsense - behaving as if knowledge, and more specifically only certain kinds of knowledge,  are a more important pursuit. It must be hard to see our beautiful kiddies become toughened up by the school process... unless of course we welcome this change and see it as necessary.

I am not implying that every school makes heartless brutes of our little ones, or that parents are emotionally neglectful in sending them there. I'm saying that generally speaking, broadly speaking, there's not enough love going on in the school day and that cuddling needs to come back into the curriculum as a vital life-skill and health booster. Kindness and love certainly exist in school - no doubt about it - but that skin-on skin oxytocin-bringing kind of love and kindness must surely take the back seat. Is it babyish to want to sustain this for our children? I don't know....

Cuddling makes people softer and nicer. I know that the thought of their kids being soft and nice is terrifying for some parents, preferring to toughen them up for life in the 'real' world where nastiness lurks everywhere and bullies will supposedly hurt our nice kids by being bigger and stonger and more brutal. So what's the answer - make our kids into bullies so they can cope with bullies?

I believe absolutely that there is more than one way to be strong. Look at the way that a silk rope is stronger than a steel one. There is more give and flexibility and it is completely natural!

The strongest known material to man, stronger than Kevlar. made of spiders silk was woven to make this exquisite cloth!

And look at the gracefulness of willow - bendy, water loving, flexible, supple and strong at the same time....

A willow tree - I made my marriage vows by a willow tree - it has reminded me over the years that love is gentler and stronger when we are flexible, bendy and drink lots of water (in a metaphysical sense)

Water is another example of immense power that comes from being soft and free-flowing - think what it can do just by gently flowing along in the direction that it instinctively wants to go.

And think what power there is in non-violence....

What are your thoughts dear readers? How do you feel about cuddles? Are you getting and giving enough of them?

Do you think cuddling features enough in the curriculum? Do you agree or disagree that love should get more attention in the curriculum?

There are so many problems in the world caused by violence that surely if we just raise generations of kids with more love, it stands to reason that this will result in a less violent society.

Here's a thought: Do schools, on some fundamental and even unconscious level, perpetuate the status quo because violence is actually profitable for the nation on some level?  Could we cope with a society that is all loved-up and happy and at peace with one another? Or would that mean that people wouldn't buy so much stuff and go to wars, from which we profit? Would society as it we know it, crumble, and therefore need entirely re-structuring, if everyone were happier and more loved-up?

What do you think?

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  1. You have raised some very interesting thoughts there. I don't think my tired Monday brain is capable of answering most of them, but I do agree wholeheartedly with cuddling! Its a well researched topic, and is known to create happier and more stable children.
    I fear too that school makes children too "grown up" for such affection at a very young age. Schooled children we know find it very difficult to discuss emotions or accept physical affection. In fact I would go as far to say, that I believe schooled children lack emotional intelligence.
    Just another reinforcement for home schooling xx

  2. Hello Liz, I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that schooled kids lack emotional intelligence. My own feeling is more that kids emotional intelligence develops mostly in spite of school, in the friendship groups that they have around lesson time and in the evenings and weekends. But it's certainly a meagre portion of the day given over to huggy time compared to say kids in a Steiner school or who are home ed where there aren't such logistical constraints on being close and warm with each other and where that kind of behaviour is not considered counter-productive or uncool or all the other reasons that kids aren't encouraged to be physically close to one another. It's all a bit starchy in school, whereas in real life people mooch together, snuggle and cuddle more, and rather than harm the other kinds of intelligence I think this sort of skin-on-skin loafing makes people more creative! It's accepted at nursery but folks seem to be trained out of it as they grow older :-(

  3. I think you're so right. And whether it's in the form of cuddles or not Human Kindness and Humane kindness should definitely be on the curriculum, over and above stupid testing! If we took away the testing we'd take away the competition which is the antithesis of human kindness! x Must visit more often - your posts always inspire! xx

  4. Humane kindness should most definitely, firmly be on the curriculum above testing. It should be top of the bill! Thanks for visiting and commenting Ross :-) xxx