Mind-Brain and Education (MBE) uses emerging research in cognitive and behavioral sciences to better understand how the human brain works and to uncover new methods needed by a 21st century active-style teaching. The student of the Anthropocene era (current geological age) must acquire, apart from foundational knowledge, computational thinking and a community and global level ethic of care. In a technology-driven future educators need to extend their professional skills further, beyond what the industrial era called for. The time is now for MBE to step in and step up in transforming the educational process. South Africa takes the lead in implementing the principles of MBE in its educational system via ITSI and hosts the first seminar in Africa on MBE.
How the Brain Works
Imagine walking through a field of grass. You’ve reached its middle and glimpse behind. You can hardly see where you came from; to make a path that lasts you have to walk the same route many times. And then you would have formed only one path.
The same happens in the human brain when we learn.
Neurons are the specific cells forming the nervous system. What makes them unique is their ability to transmit chemical and electrical information through the body. But unlike other types of cells, neurons stop reproducing after birth. The good news is that neurons are capable of forming new connections, thus new pathways, any time in life and can maintain them as long as we use them.
When we use our brain, be it to study or listen to the news, new pathways of neurons are formed and older pathways brought back to life – one neuron can connect itself with several others. Over time, the active connections become more prevalent while non-used ones weaken or are eliminated.
When a web of neural pathways is formed, that information is stored in our long-term memory. For this to happen learning must be active: to stimulate visually and auditory, not only cognitive (passive study). Brain-Science shows that an active learning process involves a wider area of brain, new neural connections are made, old ones are strengthened, as opposed to the passive study where few cortical changes register.
Mind-Brain and Education – Why the Time for South Africa is Now
South Africa’s Educational System faces a reading crisis, with 78% of grade 4 pupils failing to read for meaning, while private schools are under pressure to produce critical and computational thinkers. Moreover, learning became a social activity and the Anthropocene students are expected to master skills needed in a global tech-driven future.
Brain-Science speaks of the plasticity of the human brain, its ability to adapt, especially when it involves learning new skills. Their studies show that children learn along specific pathways, defined by the content they focus on (different for mathematics than history). Due to the brain’s plasticity the learning experience is equally important in aiding students through their learning process.
MBE takes into consideration all components of education. MBE transforms the learning process into an enhanced experience, while simplifying it and adapting it to the needs of each student and the requirements of each subject. Pupils can reach the standard of a basic level of education while empowered to be responsible for their own learning and still receive guidance from a classroom teacher. MBE can give the educational system the much needed boost and support, regardless of the social and educational background of its learners.
Who is ITSI and its South African Platform
ISTI is the first-mover in the South African market working with over 200 educational institutions and 80 000 users. 2018 will add over 25 institutions and 20 000 learners. ITSI breached into the rest of Africa by opening ITSI Solution in Namibia and has offices in the UK and the Middle East.
ITSI’s platform is accessible “anytime, anywhere”. Their e-books combine foundational learning with computational thinking. ITSI makes available digital lessons that follow the CAPS curriculum, enhancing the learning experience. As an added value, educators can personalise their teaching by adding resources and adapting the app to suit individual needs.
MBE Seminar, ITSI and Educator’s Skills
A vital part of MBE success is the teacher’s involvement and their level of knowledge on how the human brain works, as well as their extensive professional skills supported by a solid platform.
There is something truly magical about this wonderful collection. Having read each poem, I love how every word celebrates our canine companions from the tip of their wet noses to the wag of their tails.
A super sweet and poignant book of poetry about what a pup thinks of his world; the objects and creatures in it, the sun, the moon, a snail, an owl, a pigeon, his human mommy and daddy, as he discovers what it is to be a puppy. As a cat lover I especially was tickled by his relationship to the cat. Any dog lover would adore this book. The photos were appealing. Haikus at the end were tiny diamonds.
Raising a child is the most difficult job in the world. The decisions made by parents will model and impact upon the child’s emotional and intellectual well-being.
Parenting is a full-time job on its own, without the added pressure of medical literature, in-law advice or trying to keep up with that perfect family always posting on Facebook.
“Once upon a time I was a perfect parent. Then I had children. The End.”
In his book “Brain Rules For Baby“, developmental molecular biologist and dad Dr John Medina, bridges the gap between what scientists know and what parents practise.
Baby’s IQ during the 1st trimester of pregnancy
An adult human brain contains about 100-billion neurons formed before we are born. The embryo’s brain produces approximately 250,000 cells per minute, most generated as early as week three and during the first four months of gestation.
All throughout your pregnancy, stay away from potentially harmful substances like smoking, drinking alcohol and taking drugs – even over-the-counter drugs. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Scientists studying human evolution attest that morning sickness kicked in as an ancestral mechanism forcing the mother to stay away from toxic, potentially spoiled or exotic foods that might harm the embryo. One of the hormones inducing morning sickness is also a stimulant for the development of neurons in the embryo’s brain.
Baby’s IQ throughout the pregnancy
A mother’s weight gain during pregnancy is vital to the well-being of her unborn baby. A study shows that a foetus’ IQ grows in proportion to its weight gain while inside the mother’s womb. A pregnant woman with healthy weight gain, good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle will influence the weight of her newborn positively.
A pregnancy vitamin supplement rich in folic acid and omega 3 is indicated.
And food cravings?
Studies have proved that food cravings are stress related, not pointing towards a vitamin deficiency. An anxious woman used to giving in to chocolate during stressful times will most probably go on craving chocolate whenever she hits a stressful time during pregnancy.
A stressful pregnancy and baby’s IQ
If a pregnant woman is stressed, anxious or depressed, this can affect how the baby’s brain will develop. Research shows that the child will be at greater risk of slow learning or behavioural problems such as ADHD.
Severe stress suffered by mothers during pregnancy can have the following consequences for the baby:
Change the foetus’ body temperature, making the baby more irritable in the womb;
Reduce the baby’s IQ (by up to eight points);
Affect the baby’s motor skills, attention span and concentration – visible from six years of age;
Affect the baby’s own response to stressful situations; and
Even reduce the baby’s brain size.
“Researchers at Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University followed more than 150 families after a severe storm, and found specific markers on the DNA of children whose mothers were pregnant or became pregnant soon after the disaster, providing rare evidence of how maternal hardships can have long-term genetic consequences.”
A good solution to reduce stress is being active.
Staying active during pregnancy
Women who have an active lifestyle and engage in regular physical activities during pregnancy have an easier birthing experience – shorter and less painful.
Pregnant women are advised to stay active and do mild exercise, without pushing it too hard.
During the third trimester, the best sport for a pregnant woman is swimming. It is a low-impact sport and keeps the pregnant woman’s body temperature constant, so her uterus does not overheat.
Intense physical activity will reduce the blood supply to the uterus, which will decrease the oxygen supply to the foetus.
If the pregnant woman’s body temperature is raised by more than two degrees Celsius, this can negatively affect the cerebral and visual development of the foetus during the third trimester of pregnancy.
Family relationships during pregnancy
Dr John Medina points out that during the first year of the baby’s life, the number of hostile interactions between the new parents is often on the rise. Specialists believe that this can be harmful to the baby, which is very sensitive to external factors at the beginning of its life.
A prolonged exposure to hostility can have a negative impact on the baby, lowering its IQ and its ability to manage stress later in life.
During the first year of life, a baby’s main cognitive focus is on survival. Once the baby forms an attachment with its main caregiver, its brain can develop normally, resulting in a happy, sociable baby able to manage stressful situations.
If the baby cannot feel this trust and safety, then the genetic code tells its brain to develop in a different way – with a negative impact on its social, emotional and educational prospects.
The ingredients that contribute towards the making of a clever child:
Breastfeeding can raise a baby’s IQ by up to eight points;
Talking to a baby and a child about various topics will expose the child to a wider vocabulary;
Playing games with your child will stimulate the child’s mind;
As will engaging your child in music and sports.
Raising a child is the most difficult job in the world. The decisions made by parents will model and impact upon the child’s emotional and intellectual well-being, the character of the future adult. Yet it is good to acknowledge that these decisions are unique to each family, and each parent can adjust their parenting skills at any time throughout this roller-coaster journey.
* The information in this article is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice.
If you’re a bibliophile or a film buff, 2018 is sure to put a spring in your step, as a large array of popular novels will come to theaters and televisions.
Between June and August, expect to be entertained by movies adapted from books hot off the bestseller list. From family and musicals to drama, comedy and horror, there is something for everyone — and still enough time to read one or two of the books on which these movies are based.
1. “On Chesil Beach” (based on the novel of the same name by Ian McEwan) – June 2018
What’s it about? In 1962 England, a young couple dates and marries in quick succession, but immediately runs into trouble on their honeymoon night.
Who’s in it? Saoirse Ronan, Emily Watson, Anne-Marie Duff
What’s it about? As Scott Lang balances being a superhero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.
Genre: Superhero, adventure, sci-fi
Who’s in it? Evangeline Lilly, Hannah John-Kamen, Paul Rudd
What’s it about? Seven years ago, and seven miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, Dr Jonas Taylor encountered something that changed the course of his life. Now he must confront his fears and return to the crushing depths to save those trapped in a sunken submersible.
Genre: Suspense, thriller, sea adventure
Who’s in it? Ruby Rose, Jason Statham, Rainn Wilson
5. “Asinamali” (based on the play of the same title by Mbongeni Ngema) – August 2018
What’s it about? Adapted from Mbongeni Ngema’s Broadway production of “Asinamali”. In the prison yard on Robben Island, a man named Nelson Mandela told Msizi Dube: “Go and do it for all of us, for all our people. So one day we may join you in a free South Africa.”
Who’s in it? Kevin White
6. “The Darkest Minds” (based on the novel of the same title by Alexandra Bracken) – August 2018
What’s it about? Imprisoned by an adult world that now fears everyone under 18, a group of teens form a resistance group to fight back and reclaim control over their future. For fans of “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games”.
Genre: Young adult, sci-fi, thriller
Who’s in it? Mandy Moore, Amandla Stenberg, Gwendoline Christie
7. “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” (based on the novel of the same name by Mary Ann Schaffer) – August 2018
What’s it about? A writer forms an unexpected bond with the residents of Guernsey Island in the aftermath of World War II, when she decides to write a book about their experiences during the war.
Genre: Drama, historical, romance
Who’s in it? Lily James, Matthew Goode, Michiel Huisman
8. “Crazy Rich Asians” (based on the novel of the same title by Kevin Kwan) – August 2018
What’s it about? Three wealthy Chinese families prepare for the wedding of the year. When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.
Genre: Comedy, romance
Who’s in it? Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding
9. “The Wife” (based on the novel of the same title by Meg Wolitzer) – August 2018
What’s it about? A wife questions her life choices as she travels to Stockholm with her husband, where he is slated to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. But behind the compromises, the disappointment and disillusionment, there lies a secret…
Who’s in it? Christian Slater, Elizabeth McGovern, Glenn Close
What’s it about? Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully managed to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan and became the head of the local chapter.
Genre: Comedy, biopic, thriller, drama, crime
Who’s in it? Adam Driver, Topher Grace, Laura Harrier
11. “Submergence” (based on the novel of the same title by JM Ledgard) – September 2018
What’s it about? In a room with no windows on the east coast of Africa, a Scotsman, James More, is held captive by jihadist fighters. Thousands of miles away in the Greenland Sea, Danielle Flinders prepares to dive in a submersible to the ocean floor. In their confines they are drawn back to the Christmas of the previous year, where a chance encounter on a beach in France led to an intense and enduring romance.
Genre: Thriller, romance, drama
Who’s in it? Alicia Vikander, James McAvoy, Alexander Siddig
12. “A Simple Favor” (based on the novel of the same title by Darcey Bell) – September 2018
What’s it about? Stephanie, a mommy vlogger, seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s sudden disappearance from their small town.
Genre: Crime, mystery, thriller
Who’s in it? Blake Lively, Linda Cardellini, Anna Kendrick
13. “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” (based on the novel of the same title by John Bellairs) – October 2018
What’s it about? A young orphan named Lewis Barnavelt aids his magical uncle in locating a clock with the power to bring about the end of the world.
Genre: Adventure, fantasy, horror, thriller
Who’s in it? Cate Blanchett, Jack Black, Sunny Suljic
14. “Venom” (based on the Marvel comics by Todd McFarlane and David Michelinie) – October 2018
What’s it about? When Eddie Brock acquires the powers of a symbiote, he has to release his alter-ego, Venom, to save his life.
Genre: Horror, sci-fi, thriller, superhero
Who’s in it? Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson
What’s it about? Melissa McCarthy stars in the adaptation of the memoir “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, the true story of bestselling celebrity biographer Lee Israel. When Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception.
Genre: Biopic, comedy, drama
Who’s in it? Melissa McCarthy, Julie Ann Emery, Richard E Grant
16. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” (based on the classic story of The Nutcracker by ETA Hoffmann) – November 2018
What’s it about? A young girl is transported into a magical world of gingerbread soldiers and an army of mice.
Genre: Adventure, ballet, family, fantasy
Who’s in it? Keira Knightley, Eugenio Derbez, Mackenzie Foy
17. “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” (based on the novel of the same title by David Lagercrantz) – November 2018
What’s it about? Young computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist find themselves caught in a web of spies, cybercriminals and corrupt government officials.
Genre: Crime, thriller
Who’s in it? Claire Foy, Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks
18. “Hunter Killer” (based on the novel “Firing Point“ by George Wallace) – November 2018
What’s it about? An untested American submarine captain teams up with U.S. Navy Seals to rescue the Russian president, who has been kidnapped by a rogue general.
Genre: Action, thriller
Who’s in it? Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Ryan McPartlin
What’s it about? A war-hardened crusader and his Moorish commander mount an audacious revolt against the corrupt English crown in a thrilling action-adventure packed with gritty battlefield exploits, mind-blowing fight choreography and a timeless romance.
Who’s in it? Taron Egerton, Jamie Dornan, Eve Hewson
21. “Mortal Engines” (based on the book of the same title by Philip Reeve) – December 2018
What’s it about? Many years after the Sixty Minute War, cities survive on a now desolate Earth by moving around on giant wheels, attacking and devouring smaller towns to replenish their resources.
Genre: Fantasy, sci-fi, adventure
Who’s in it? Hugo Weaving, Frankie Adams, Stephen Lang
22. “Mary Poppins Returns” (based on the books by P.L. Travers) – December 2018
What’s it about? In Depression-era London, a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, along with Michael’s three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins. Through her unique magical skills, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.
Genre: Family, musical
Who’s in it? Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth
Here are nine of the book-to-movie attractions to look forward to in 2018 in South Africa between January and May.
What’s it about? – When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone. He’s surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade – a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze.
What’s it about? “12 Strong” tells the story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11; under the leadership of a new captain, the team must work with an Afghan warlord to take down the Taliban.
What’s it about? In 1962, Madeleine L’Engle debuted her novel “A Wrinkle in Time“, which would go on to win the 1963 Newbery Medal. Bridging science and fantasy, darkness and light, fear and friendship, the story became a classic of children’s literature and is beloved around the world. Now Disney is bringing it to the silver screen!
Genre: Teen, young adult, time travel, science fiction
What’s it about? Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to “Sparrow School”, a Russian intelligence service, where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. But her first mission, targeting a CIA agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.
What’s it about? Peter is thrilled that Grandpa is coming to live with his family. That is, until Grandpa moves right into Peter’s room, forcing him upstairs. Peter decides to declare war in an attempt to get it back.
What’s it about? Dr Paul Kersey is a surgeon who only sees the aftermath of his city’s violence as victims are rushed into his ER – until his wife and college-age daughter are viciously attacked in their suburban home.
What’s it about? From the genius of David Levithan, co-author of “Will Grayson, Will Grayson“, and “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist“, comes a love story like none you’ve read before. A shy teenager falls for someone who transforms into another person every day.
Genre: Teen, young adult, science fiction, dystopian
These two articles combined have been initially published on Huffington Post SA in 2018.
We Need A Multicultural Children’s Book Day In South Africa – Reading expands children’s levels of empathy and broadens their minds.
U.S. readers of all ages will celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day on Saturday, January 27.
In 2014, teachers and educators from Jump Into A Book and PragmaticMom presented their very first January 27 Multicultural Children’s Book Day as a way of celebrating diversity in children’s books.
The result was overwhelming, as authors, publishers, parents, teachers, bloggers and librarians joined forces to present an online event designed to shine the spotlight on diversity in children’s literature.
Our mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.
Thanks to their sponsors, book review bloggers and thousands of readers, Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2014 achieved its goal of highlighting all of the amazing multicultural children’s books available to young readers, teachers, librarians and parents worldwide.
What is a multicultural book?
Multicultural children’s books are:
Books that contain characters of colour, as well as characters that represent a minority point of view;
Books that share ideas, stories, and information about cultures, race, religion, language, and traditions;
Books that embrace our world and offer children new ways to connect to a diverse and richer world.
Our total social media shares for three days of our 2017 event (on the day before, day of and day after Multicultural Children’s Book Day) were an astounding 3.6-billion!
Watch for the #ReadYourWorld hashtag on social media.
“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” Maya Angelou.
Reading puts us in touch with our humanity
Reading and access to diverse books offer children a safe door towards real life; towards what life is or how it could be; towards the lives of people from different nations and cultures. Towards different kinds of struggles, emotions and ideals; how and why are they like or unlike our own.
Reading expands children’s levels of empathy and broadens their minds.
Diversity and its meaning today in the book industry
The fact that different kinds of people – poor or rich, men and women, white and black – can write books is often a revelation for many young readers. “If they can do it, so can I!”
The book monopoly is a thing of the past. Today access to books and their creative journeys belongs to the young as well, and to women equally. The knowledge of this variety is undoubtedly empowering for many young minds.
Why diversity in children’s books is a win-win situation
The more children are exposed to different cultures and emotions through books, the more empowered they feel, as these books reflect their own race or inter-race, religion, sex or physical health, and home upbringing (including divorced families, immigrants, and single-parent families). Children feel good about themselves when they read about characters like them.
The more we are exposed to different cultures, the more we gain in variety and humanity. By telling the same story in different languages, each time it becomes a new narration with a new lesson to pass on.
We live in a world that’s confronted, more than ever, with a wide variety of issues that impact directly on our lives and those of our children: global warming and social migration, terrorism and out-of-control political spectacles.
Access to diverse books offer our children the best tools to comprehend and deal with the worldwide chaos they have to live in. A diversity of books will hopefully empower our children and grant them the wisdom to understand themselves and their world . It will help them discover the power needed to stand on their own two feet and lead a life of humanity and empathy.
10 diverse books to enjoy (or find your own at your local library):
Home Of The Brave – Kek comes from Africa, where he lived with his mother, father and brother.
Little Suns – “There are many suns,” he said. “Each day has its own. Some are small, some are big. I’m named after the small ones.”
Giant Steps – Elephants have long been targeted by humans: not only are they killed for their ivory, but their extraordinary strength, intelligence and charisma have seen some of them captured, chained and effectively jailed for life.
We’re All Wonders – The unforgettable story of August Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face.
Wishtree – Trees can’t tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories…
Here is what book readers and book reviewers have to say about Puppy:
“My daughter loved this book. She enjoyed pointing out what was happening in the illustrations and listening to what the puppy got up to.” (Jodie for Whispering Stories)
“This is a gorgeous, uplifting collection walking us through the introduction of a new canine family member. From the moment that gorgeous little bundle is brought home, through the settling in and growing bond between family and friend.” (Mama B on ReadAllAboutIt)
“What a charming book this is. I must first commend Patricia Furstenberg on the fabulous quality of the illustrations as Puppy: 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles could be enjoyed through the pictures alone as there is so much to look at and discuss. It would be just right for pre-school children. ” (Linda Hill, on Linda’s Book Bag).
“This is such a delightful little book that made me smile and giggle at all the antics in Puppy’s first year of life.” (Susan Hampson on Books From Dusk Till Dawn).
“Puppy: 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles would be a great addition to any family’s story time reading although adults beware…..if you don’t already have a dog in your life your “human pup” may just suddenly want one after seeing how much fun they have.” (Mandie for JenMedsBookReviews)
“This is a lovely book with cute illustrations. A book I think will be loved and read over and over again by children and adults, especially those who are dog lovers.” (Kerry on Chat About Books).
“Puppy, 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles by Patricia Furstenberg is a fun, exciting, adorable, and a must-read children’s book.” (Nada for Nadaness In Motion)
“This is such a sweet, well thought out book that will be perfect for children. I think parents and children will enjoy reading this together. There will be so much that children can relate to.” (Laura on NovelKicks)
“This is a fun little book that would be a great gift for a child with a new puppy, or an adult who simply wants to relive those puppy moments – without all the teeth.” (Casey on She’s All Booked!)
“This is a really cute children’s book that lets the reader follow the first year of a young puppies life but from his point of view. ” (Jessica on Books A Plenty)
Puppy, 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles: is an auditory feast for children, a fun read-aloud for parents, and treat for dog-lovers, young and old.
“If you have a dog, or you’ve ever had one, there’s no question that you’ll find yourself having a little giggle at this! Whilst clearly designed as a poetic children’s book composed of vibrant colours and illustrations which any little reader would love, it also resonates brilliantly with their adult counterparts.“
“This book is definitely aimed at younger children and will delight them as an adult reads it out loud to them. However any dog lover will also love this book and will no doubt smile as they do so.“
The Elephant and the Sheep: “Beautiful illustrations, a lovely message of friendship and overcoming lifes struggles and of course, as this author does so well, another fantastic story showcasing the brilliance of our furry (or not so furry!) friends.“
The Cheetah and the Dog: “The moral of the story is that no matter your colour or creed, friends come in different forms and help each other. They are there for one another no matter what.The illustrations are beautiful. They are vibrant and portray the animals and their surroundings perfectly.“
The Lion and the Dog: “The illustrations are bright and depict what is happening in each stage of the story. There are lots of other animals to spot in the illustrations. My daughter enjoyed pointing them out and naming them as I read the story to her. She was sad for the lion but was so pleased when the lion became friends with the dog and cheered up.“
Find ALL my eBooks, paperback books and large print paperback editions on Amazon:
A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives
A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?
Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.
But is Alexa all she claims to be?
As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?
In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.
Read Helene’s thoughts on why writing stories for grown-ups is so compelling to her.
Telling stories to understand the human mind
Human beings have been telling each other stories for times immemorial, and this for many different reasons. Oral tradition has allowed knowledge to be passed on from one generation to the next, making sure that traditions, folk songs, general information and historical facts are not lost. This transmission was mainly done through speech or song.
As opposed to stories that are written down and can therefore be debated about more objectively, stories passed on orally are more vulnerable to distortions or misrepresentations. Hence, apart from the obvious and innocent problem of falsification, verbal transmission has always been a potential for fraud. A king or emperor for instance may have wanted to make sure that only good things were spoken about him or her, that any flaws were erased, and documents destroyed that could compromise the image of a perfect leader.
As much as a writer may also be misunderstood by her readers, the orator has a more difficult task in passing on information successfully, yet also the advantage to use the weakness of speech to manipulate and control. A lie is born whenever this happens, a deception to confuse and mislead another person.
The longer a person lies and improves in tricking others, and the more they enjoy the success, the more likely it is that they become addicted to telling a false story.
In my first book Manipulated Lives, I wrote five stories that were centred around psychological manipulation, a tool that although it can vary from mild to severe, has one underlying symptom in common: lying.
In my new stand-alone novella, I explored the pathology further where it is one character’s main skill in life and the curse she is unable to shed …
Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.
For more information about the author and her upcoming books, please visit:
What is better to do on a rainy summer’s day in Pretoria than to visit a cutting-edge art exhibition, listen to great live music, enjoy home-made gelato and smash a Leaky Tap Golden Ale while having a relaxed conversation with interesting people?
Heinrich Pelser is an accomplished South African musician and a much treasured music teacher. A classical guitarist by training and a rock player at heart, his first art exhibition, Art Vibes, explored the connection between art and technology in a modern world. Just like through his music, Heinrich effortlessly communicates playful and optimistic ideas, backed by what appears to be graphic simplicity. Heinrich has offered us the gift of a true artist, as the many layers of work and thought transpire in each and every one of his creations. Each piece of art on display vibrates with a story to tell; some by the use of lines and shadows, some featuring brightly colored shapes that kindles the art, giving it an impression of movement.
I had the great pleasure of asking Heinrich and Bianca a few questions. Here’s our chat on art, music, family and dreams.
Pat: Who is Heinrich Pelser and what would he normally be doing on a rainy Saturday morning?
Heinrich (inward smile): I am quite the day dreamer, imagining myself in various scenarios all the time, from being on stage with my friends at massive venues to thinking what a dragon would say if he had to be in a musical production. Rainy Saturday mornings will have me drinking coffee and being busy with preparing food. I love to write songs and draw when the weather is gloomy, but my wife’s influence also has me watching movies when the thunder comes for a visit.(he hugs Bianca) Bianca (with her warm, glowing smile): What he means to say is that I make him watch more television than he wants to! 😊
Pat: How do you balance art, music and your teaching job?
Heinrich: I feel it comes quite easy and as a necessity as well, diverting my mind and helping me to not fall into a routine rut. Teaching helps me tremendously because kids have pure and colorful minds that aids me with ideas and also to break the loneliness one can fall into while drawing or writing music alone for hours on end.
Pat: Tell us about the media you use. Heinrich (his fingers seem to have picked up an imaginary pen): I feel the media guides my style. With pen drawings the type of ink has a massive influence over the type of hatching I would use and the length of my lines. With digital drawing I took to the pen fairly easy and various programs have me apply different techniques. The tablet allows me the freedom to draw absolutely anywhere and that is super for when inspiration comes.
Pat: What is your creative process like? Heinrich: I draw a lot in my classroom at school in between lessons and then I will take ideas home and finish them on the patio outside. I love late evenings and listening to music while I do creative things. There are guitars nearby almost always so If my mind throws a lyric at me I would put that idea down. Whatever I feel the vibe for I would do, I never force myself to finish a certain idea if I am not in the groove to do so. Bianca (excited): It is amazing and very inspiring to see Heinrich while he is drawing or writing/composing. The creative process totally encompasses him and he gets in the flow very easily.
Pat: As a musician, you can take your guitar with you everywhere you go. Has this proximity influenced your choice of medium used in your art? Heinrich (nods while his fingers seem to drum a little tune) : It has indeed. I always carry small sketch-pads with me so quite a few of my drawings are rather small. The digital medium changed that due to the fact that I can store any canvas size on my tablet. It is different not to see the big picture when you step back but that is part of the fun waiting for the large prints to arrive at the print store.
Pat: How has this art exhibition come to life? Who supported you? Heinrich: Friso Woudstra and I were having a beer after a band meeting at Craft Exchange where he is an owner. The conversation steered in the direction of an art exhibition and I started planning. My father Willem was instrumental in everything, his arm was in a sling but he helped me with all the logistics and to build the various crazy things we attempted to have a decent display area. My friend Brenton Watt at Brand Inventors helped me with the UV printing for the bigger pieces I had on display and our experiments ended up being some of the key pieces on display. My wife is a legend and she drives me to do things a bit better every time. She is a beast when it comes to events so her planning skills and helping hands is an absolute blessing.(winks at Bianca).
Pat: What is the coolest part about being an artist and a musician? Heinrich: The fact that they feed on one another so well. Music can also be a visual medium that creates images with sounds in the mind of the listener. I think over the years the two amalgamated for me personally and in many aspects they cannot be separated.
Pat: Which artwork is your favorite and why? Heinrich: The Indulged Man is probably my favorite. I drew this at school so it was my first big project and it taught me so much of my own style and mind. I have fond memories of drawing this at my Mom’s dining table while listening to the radio. Bianca: I remember seeing one of Heinrich’s artworks up on the wall of the art class in high school. It moved me deeply and I had, up until that point, never seen anything quite like it. The intricacy with which he composed that piece and the amount of detail he put into every square centimeter was just amazing. He was the first graphic artist at our school and inspired me to major in that medium as well. I don’t think he has that piece anymore. My favorite work at the moment is Whaleybubsinthecity.
Pat: What’s next for Heinrich Pelser? Heinrich: I will keep on building my repertoire of songs and artworks. At the moment I am focused on creating and with the December holidays coming up I have ample time to create and consume fresh ideas and moments to feed me for another year.
Thank you, Heinrich and Bianca, for great art, good music and great company. I left Heinrich’s Art Vibes Exhibition with the enlightened feeling that anything is possible when one works hard, believes in one’s dreams and, yes, perhaps, “with a little help from my friends”.
Susan Day is a passionate author, educator and, of course, a grandmother. She wants to empower all grandparents to build meaningful relationships with their grandchildren. She is author of the children’s book series Astro’s Adventures which also has its own book club, Astro’s Book Club. Susan also runs a website for grand-parents, The Happy Grandparent.
Here are Susan’s insightful thoughts on why:
The Best Christmas Gifts are Books
Well, it’s nearly time for the silly season, and parents and grandparents will be running to and fro trying to purchase toys for the children in their lives.
While most children will ask Santa to bring them the latest must-have gadgets, dolls and games there is one item which has been a popular favourite for many years.
Books are a wonderful gift for anytime of the year, and should be included in all gift packages. They might not get the initial attention of flashing toys that speak or zooming cars or glitter-covered fairies, but books have a worth that goes far beyond those first few moments of unwrapping.
Books Open Up New Worlds
Children can learn about people, places, and events outside of their own experience. Reading can take them to worlds they may never travel to. They can learn about tribes in deepest, darkest Papua New Guinea. They can learn how the people of Siberia keep warm, and they can learn what life is like for a child just like them in cities far away and unknown.
They can also learn about other cultures, festivals and with the rise in self-help books for children, they can learn how the world around them works. They can also learn what they can do if they feel unhappy or depressed; what to do if their grandparents are sick, or where their little siblings came from!
E-Books Make Great Gifts
Anyone with young children will tell you just how tech-savvy kids are now a days. They are born instinctively knowing how to swipe, download, upload and more. It’s really amazing.
Keeping this in mind, gifting an e-reader such as Kindle is a great idea. Not only are they portable which means children can read anywhere such as the car, the bus or when visiting grandma, but you can literally load hundreds of books onto just one device.
This means that your child can take their favourite books everywhere with them without needing a suitcase to lug them around. And, we all know that books can become our friends and having them close gives children an added sense of security.
Taking Time to Read Together is Important for Bonding
The most important reason why you should be giving books this year, however, is because you can read and share them with your very important small people.
Create wonderful memories cuddled up together sharing lovely stories about dogs, cats, or cheeky monkeys living in Africa.
The children in your life will cherish those times when you both discovered the magic of books. They will always remember how you both laughed at the crazy antics of the characters or hid behind the sofa cushions when the big bad wolf appeared.
Books are remarkably powerful tools that bring so much joy to our lives. They will outlast all toys; they don’t need batteries, and best of all they are not too expensive.
I can’t think of a better gift.
I couldn’t agree more, Susan!
Susan Day is happy to connect with readers of all ages as well as with fellow authors and bloggers, which she always supports. I have the honor of writing the Sunday Column for Susan’s website for puppy-owners and dog-lovers, Mypuppyclub.net.
Susan lives in country Australia with four dogs, three bossy cats, two rescue guinea pigs, and an errant kangaroo.
THE TOP 10 THINGS HAPPY GRANDPARENTS NEVER REGRET DOING – Media Release
IT’S TIME TO PUT THE ‘GRAND’ BACK INTO GRANDPARENTING!
The Top 10 Things Happy Grandparents Never Regret Doing! looks at the modern changes of grandparenting. It is an open and honest look at how much the role of grandparenting has changed, and what lies ahead for this growing section of our population.
Written by Dunolly author (Central Victoria), Susan Day, this book aims to empower all grandparents to share their knowledge and experiences with their beloved grandchildren.
Grandparents often worry that their grandchildren will grow up and forget them. Some are concerned about being alone and distant from their families emotionally and physically.
Most grandparents want to have a positive impact on the lives of their grandchildren, and create memories that will last forever.
The Top 10 Things Happy Grandparents Never Regret Doing! takes its readers on an insightful journey into what they need to do to become the best grandparent they can be (even better than the one they are now).
At the end of each chapter are questions to complete. These are designed to create a unique and personal Grandparenting Philosophy. Best of all, readers will then learn how to adapt their own Grandparenting Philosophy into their life.
A Grandparenting Philosophy is an important document that is, not only uniquely about each gran, granny and pop, but about their family, and their goal to connect with their grandchildren.
Readers will also learn the Top 10 Things Happy Grandparents Never Regret Doing! These wonderful values will be incorporated into their Grandparenting Philosophy so they can develop a strong, meaningful relationship with their grandchildren.
As well, there are lots of free educational resources also available for each person who purchases a copy.
Now is the time for grandparents to reclaim and strengthen their relationship with their grandchildren. Grandparents have so much to offer.
About the Author
Susan Day is a passionate author, educator and, of course, a grandmother. She wants to empower all grandparents to build meaningful relationships with their grandchildren.
Susan lives in country Australia with four dogs, three bossy cats, two rescue guinea pigs, and an errant kangaroo.
Website – The Top 10 Things Happy Grandparents Never Regret Doing!