Dare to be curious

One thing I have noticed over the last few years of teaching is that there are two types of learners…those who learn because they have to and those who learn because they like to. So here our challenge lies – how do we get someone who learns because they have to to learn because they like to?

Curiosity is a strange thing. It can be dimly lit or it can be irreversibly dampened. Though, there are some things that hold clear – curiosity is innate. It is something that is within us as human beings from the time that we are born. One only has to look at a newborn’s face to understand this. The smile and wonder on a baby’s face whenever they see, feel, smell or taste something new. The endless why question’s that come from children. At some point through puberty and high school this wanes. Why?

Some people blame their parents. Some people blame their schooling. Some people blame their teachers. Some people just – lost interest – for one reason or another. A bad experience. Negative influences. Personal trauma. We all go through it. The amount of times I got punished or in trouble as a kid or as a teenager  for being curious is innumerable. Possibly because whenever I got too curious for my own good I ended up breaking something – like computers (oops). Though – one thing stood out to me when I observed people whom are no longer curious – they are no longer alive. They are bored. They go through the same thing – day in, day out. Not believing or thinking that there could be a life very different and more magical than they could have ever dreamed. Their minds are no longer active. They no longer dream their own dream. They are no longer open to new ideas. They take things forgranted and they no longer question – believing anything that is fed to them to bolster their unexplored ideas implanted by the opinion of others and advertising.

So how does one keep their curiosity alive?

One has to learn how to see the world with awe and wonder yet again. And sometimes – we have to delve into the dark recesses of society, our communities and this planet to get it back. Sometimes it is the shocking and the unbelievable that begs us to ask the questions “why?” and “how?”.

So how does one stay curious? or how does one get it back?

I have a few heroes in this realm.. and I would love to share these magic people with you.

Calvin Cheater from the Stay Curious Art Collective states that:

“In it’s simplest form, curiosity can be described as “a thirst for knowledge” – to ponder the unknown. Though this may seem like the most obvious way to define our label, the concept behind the phrase is relatively more valuable and profound. By natural instinct, humans and other beings alike, are constantly on the prowl for a new opportunity to present itself; whether it be artifact or experience. We thrive on finding new ways to better not only ourselves, but our community too. Through mediums as diverse as the life forms on this planet we’ve been able to share ourselves with more people everyday and more of ourselves with people everyday, in more ways than we could ever imagine. By exploring the unknown and continuously pushing the boundaries, we open ourselves to an emancipated realm of creative expression, thus leaving us thirsty for more, creating a cycle of artistic intuition. The oxymoron of “Stay Curious” is what challenges us to move onwards; ‘Stay’ – to remain, and ‘Curious’ – to explore.”

Madison Dube the creator of Woman of Wanderlust has a stunningly beautiful message on Curiosity for the young and the nervous which I encourage *everyone* to read.

“If you are young and nervous, don’t be.

I urge you to be curious…

There are always other options.

Challenge your comfort, let yourself unfold.”

Catherine Pearson of Huffington Post challenges us to stay curious in the following ways:

  1. Delve into your passions. Go crazy with it. Get your nerd on and dive in.
  2. Look outside your every day life. You life normally revolves around what you are learning at school or at work? Do something completely different. Do something that scares the living daylights out of you. You will be surprised what you learn about yourself.
  3. Asy Why. Ask How. Don’t stop. Even when you get no answers. Keep asking.
  4. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Be comfortable with not knowing something. Through being comfortable with not knowing one is more comfortable in finding things out as their ego isn’t in the way.
  5. Learn to have fun while learning through learning in your own way. We all learn differently. Find yours.
  6. Read something you wouldn’t normally read. Watch and or listen to something you wouldn’t normally go any where near.

Why should you listen to me?

 

It’s simple really. Learner’s have more active brains. Curiosity stops the brain from going numb. New and novel ideas and experiences opens up neural pathways all through our lives. So live, learn and be alive. For me, I can’t think of a more magical way to live.

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Dare to be: a lifelong learner

A few days ago, while having a conversation with a colleague from the United States, I found a kinship with another person through being able to observe my surroundings and the people around it. Both of us came to the slightly unpleasant conclusion – some – no matter how much you try to inspire – are just not interested in learning. Moreover, we found that overall the Australian population in general is not interested in academics and snobs intellectualism like it is the plague.

An example? Her husband is a lecturer at a local university – head of a PhD program for Physical Movement. Out of 50 students in the program only 2 were Australians. The rest are international students. They found that this was because most students in the Bachelors Programs never went further in their education in this field because the science was seen to be “too hard”. I wondered  how often this occurs in other courses and other universities.

Throughout our conversation we theorized why we believed this was the case. We know of parents that do not say flattering things about their school life and education to their children – yet they expect them to go to school, enjoy it and succeed. Culturally, Australia has a social norm that it’s “hard yakka” that get’s you through life successfully- meaning hard work through physical labour – rather than through academics. Alecia Simmonds found that:

“There’s also no room for cleverness in our models of masculinity or femininity. For women, intelligence equates with a dangerous independence that doesn’t sit well with your role as a docile adoring fan to the boys at the pub. It’s equated with sexual unattractiveness. And for men, carrying a book and using words longer than one syllable is a form of gender treason. It’s as good as wearing bumless chaps to a suburban barbecue. Real blokes have practical wisdom expressed through grunts and murmurs. Real Aussie chicks just giggle.”

The stereotypical Real Aussie Chick

 

The stereotypical Aussie Bloke

 

Imagine being a child, struggling with a Mathematics assignment or Science homework, you go to your parents for help and the most common response one might get is helplessness. Helplessness because the content is beyond them. Helplessness in that they stopped learning about these things after they left school. Helplessness in knowing that their child’s knowledge of such things has more than likely surpassed their own. And the most heartbreaking of all? Helplessness that they cannot help their own child.

So a new question emerges – how can you expect a child, a teenager to want to learn when you yourself no longer show examples of expanding your learning?

 

I was a lucky child. My mother is a lifelong learner. From a very young age I remember her regularly working through crosswords, pedantically reading through page after page of a dictionary identifying words that she was unfamiliar with and compiling a book of unknown words filled with her scribbles and reflections using these words that she had just learnt. Safe to say she wasn’t someone most people wanted to play Scrabble with. The bookshelves were filled with books of many kinds, she read to us regularly about different animals around the world and Marco Polo’s voyage. She painted, sculpted and essentially just tinkered with anything she could get her hands on. In 1999 we had our first computer and I learnt how to use it alongside her – she wasn’t scared of things she didn’t know – if anything it made her want to throw herself at it more – to conquer it. I was inspired to learn about the world because adults around me made it seem so interesting and such a worthwhile thing to do on its own. Unfortunately, not all kids are so lucky.

As a teacher, it is not uncommon for me to hear students mention how much they “hate” or “dislike” learning. To some it’s a means to an end – something you have to do to get a job and earn money. If you ask them why they dislike it so much you get statements like “Because it’s hard”

or “because they teach us things we won’t use when we need a job” or “My parents told me they never used this stuff after high school anyway – so why should I bother?”. I sometimes wonder if their parents knew how much of these words affects the way their child sees learning?

In addition to the abhorrence to learning that occurs in households, I have also heard vitriol towards teachers by parents themselves. Therefore diminishing the teacher’s ability to inspire the student to listen to them and hopefully instill the beauty of lifelong learning into that child or teen. We need to remember that as adults – our actions and our words around children affects the way they see the world greatly – and if the adults have a negative view of education the the child will run away with this idea and see learning and therefore schools and the teachers within it with disdain.

So…how do we change this?

First of all, they need to know that learning is fun. They need to be encouraged to learn about what they want. The moment you steer a child away from learning something they have chosen is the moment you take that joy away from them. Who cares if you think it won’t make them money or get them a job someday? Isn’t it worth it just to see them enjoy wanting to learn about something?

Secondly, what language are we using about learning? Should learning be easy? Should it be challenging? Should it be something that we only do during “school” hours? I personally set my students a challenge every holidays – I ask them – what are you going to learn on the break? I encourage them to find something that takes their interest and delve into it as deep as they possibly can. It could be anything! Fairies, motorbikes or zombies! I myself have gone through stages were the stories from the Tianamen Square Massacre became an obsession – trawling through pages and pages of books and webpages to learn as much as I could about this astounding event, the people, the revolution and the secrecy. I spent a few years of my high school life learning how to be a Pagan. I have picked up acrylics, watercolors, gouache, clay and even had a stint as a life drawing model – learning how to hold still for ridiculous minutes at a time is not easy!! I have had a total of 36 positions within the Hospitality industry – learning and working in the industry – from cleaning rooms, preparing food and  through to management.  In addition to which – I spend a lot of my free time learning new recipes and coming up with new ideas to inspire and instill a sense of awe and wonder not just in myself but in the people around me.

 

Lastly, make sure the kids see it. Make sure they see you learn. Make sure they hear about what you learn. Make sure that they hear it is fun despite how challenging it can be sometimes. Make sure to demonstrate that it is OK not to know something and to ask for help. Whoever said learning was supposed to be easy?

 

Being buried in a sea of people unwilling to learn new things, unable to expand their mind for lack of want due to previous and current influences – it is daunting to be the one standing out because you want to learn. As a teenager, with the challenges of peer pressure and being just like everyone else – there is a possibility that this urge for learning can be sapped out of one’s system. Though, one shouldn’t fear as…

 

 

 

 

Dare to Breathe

There is one thing a Teacher can never have enough of – patience. I’m not sure if most people realise this but patience comes in many forms. However, it almost always boils down to the ability to remind yourself to do one very important basic thing…BREATHE.

Now… I didn’t say that it cured anxiety! I said that it would help!!

Recently, I have been thrown in the deep end. Going from a low behaviour management environment to being in a room where I constantly have to remind students to stay on task amidst friendship issues, relationship problems, truancy, violence, apathy, learned helplessness, family strain/stress and personalities with multiple learning challenges, instability and financial issues. One thing hasn’t changed though – and that’s the persistence I have with myself not to let things shake me. Not to let things get to me too much. Not to let the overwhelming feeling of drowning stop you from breathing.

Funny Pictures Help Help I'm Drowning

However, when your thoughts are like the one below you would find it quite challenging to remind yourself to breathe when you believe everything and everyone is out to get you.

Stress and anxiety are not easy things to deal with and everyone suffers from it at one point or another.  Some of us will suffer from severe stress and anxiety multiple times in our lives for one reason or another. There are some things we need to realise about this and that is not all people have the same level of stress and anxiety and not everyone will be able to deal with it the same way.  The one way I have found that has helped me and many other students that I have come across is the simple concept of mindfulness.  Knowing where you are, knowing what you are doing and knowing to just be.

I have observed a large number of students go through panic attacks for one reason or another and the thing that stands out the most is their inability to learn how to handle it. And this is where we need to step in and give them the tools to be able to cope. So…how does one cope?

This one I have used to talk students off a ledge, literally or to get them to keep going when their fear is taking over, again literally – high ropes course anyone?

  1. Tell me 5 things you see.
  2. Take a deep breathe all the way down to the bottom of your tummy. Hold it in for 3 seconds. Let go loudly.
  3. Tell me 4 things you can touch.
  4. Take a deep breathe all the way down to the bottom of your tummy. Hold it in for 3 seconds. Let go loudly.
  5. Tell me 3 things you can smell.
  6. Take a deep breathe all the way down to the bottom of your tummy. Hold it in for 3 seconds. Let go loudly.
  7. Tell me 2 things you can taste.
  8. Take a deep breathe all the way down to the bottom of your tummy. Hold it in for 3 seconds. Let go loudly.

The beauty of this distracting technique is that it works. It works for me and it has worked on all the students I have tried it on. Normally by step 5 or 6 they are calm enough to start thinking about the next step of their journey rather than get lost in their own thoughts of panic.

This is not a definitive answer to relieving stress and anxiety but it’s definitely a step forward if we at least have another thing to tuck into our tool belt when needed.

There are also a number of TED talks on the topic that provide diverse options for dealing with anxiety.

Though possibly my most favourite thing to bust anxiety is left to one particular superhero….

Dare to be a Dreamer

Science Fiction has had a major role in the development of our society today whether or not we are aware of it. Back to the Future predicted hoverboards and wearable technology. 2001: A Space Odyssey thought up the tablet. Star Trek used videophone communications. Isaac Asimov invented the “Encyclopaedia” whose modern interpretation is Google. Even the Jetson’s got to use robot vacuums way before they became available to us. H.G. Wells imagined the use of airplanes in warfare and the creation of the atomic bomb. Jules Verne wrote about a worldwide communication network – now widely known as the internet. Giorgia Lupi even created a detailed infographic outlining numerous science fiction texts and their predictions for the future all the way to the year 802701.

It is interesting to note the difference in how we see the future now – based on current texts available – and how the future was seen in the past. Jean-Marc Côté, a French commercial artist, created a number of images for the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900.

Does this remind anyone else of Heston Blumenthal and his food experiments?

For a more updated version of how today’s society may see the future is covered with works such as the movie Tomorrowland and Her.

The best thing about science fiction is that it has now, and for a number of years, become a reality. People are working with technology that most of us can only dream of and it is not until we are exposed to these talks and websites like this do we realise and understand what we are able to do and what our future will be.

The only problem with all of this dreaming is that it is done by adults. As much as an adult can inspire a child or teen to dream – sometimes the best way to inspire them is to show that other kids and teens are doing it too. So…what are they doing? What are they thinking? What do they dream for their future?

Let’s have a look at a few goodies you can sink your teeth into!

TED.com has a variety of examples where kids and teens are forging the way ahead for the rest of us.

A Facebook group named Teens for the Future was created by teens to “inspire teenagers to voice their visionary ideas and become leaders in their communities and the world.

Google thinks these 18 teenagers will change the world. One example is a 17 year old from Australia Cynthia Sin Nga Lam.

“Thinking about the limited access to electricity and potable water in some developing countries, Cynthia Sin Nga Lam set out to create, in her words, “a portable device that purifies wastewater while generating electricity sustainably and affordably.” Her final product, the H2prO, skirts the need for a power source and instead uses titanium dioxide and light to spur a photocatalytic reaction that both sterilizes wastewater and generates electricity from hydrogen.” (@megan_gambino, 2014)

And look at all of these teens at the Google Science Fair!!!

Also, check out teens like Joey Hudy whose recent invention includes a solar-powered computer.

The Huffington Post has a Teen Impact section which recognises and celebrates the achievements of teenagers around the world.

The people at Teen Business sure know what’s going on in their field too.

And Teen Vogue released an amazing cohort of Teens Who Changed The World in 2014.

What am I trying to prove by showing you all this?

I’m showing you that you can dream.

I’m showing you that you can make the future what *you* want it to be.

I’m showing you that you can be a fabulous roman candle exploding across the skies.

I’m showing you that you can dare to be a dreamer.

Imagine – John Lennon

References:

@megan_gambino, F. (2014). Google Thinks These 18 Teenagers Will Change the World. Smithsonian. Retrieved 11 October 2015, from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/google-thinks-these-18-teenagers-will-change-the-world-180952293/?no-ist

Dare to be: Brave in this New World

If you have ever taken the chance to read 1984 by George Orwell or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World  you would be quite disturbed as to how similar their created worlds are to today’s political environment. On one side we are surveiled more than ever before. On the other side we are more distracted than ever before.

Huxley’s Brave New World was an environment filled with mass entertainment distributed to the population. This distribution of entertainment was to pacify the population and to divert attention away from political issues. Orwell’s 1984 limited freedom of communication between people so that they would not conspire against the government. In each world, there is one freedom that doesn’t seem to be afforded to the general population: its ability to question the actions of the government.

In today’s Australia there are a multitude of similarities to Huxley and Orwell’s world. This year alone the federal government has announced new powers for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Security Intelligence Operations (ASIO) to acquire metadata without warrants for the departments to surveil, edit, copy and/or delete at their discretion. They have also gagged whistle-blowers from being able to divulge injustices on detention centres by charging their honesty as a criminal offence. In addition to this, the government has also decided to create a media blackout on controversial government operations. Our mainstream television screens are filled with reality shows without much substance, purely designed to “fill time” and entertain rather than educate and inspire. Our phones are filled with apps and games also used to entertain and fill time. Our leisure time is spent on materialism and endless resource consumption (yes, this means shopping!). Some advise that having our mobile devices encourages a change in our behaviors and not always for the best. Observations lead us to believe that we are less patient, more distracted, less social in meaningful ways, less empathetic and more selfish. Moreover, the most important challenge this population will face is the consequences of man-made climate change which will affect this generation of teenagers and children more than anyone else. Some have said that the challenge is so big that people feel hopeless and helpless. So hopeless and helpless that they choose to be distracted by entertainment as it is easier than facing the truth. Is this really the case? If so…how do we dare be brave in this new world?

After asking a few students about this we have compiled ways that they and we can be brave in this new world based on various political and social issues in Australia and the social media responses – marriage equality, domestic violence, refugee treatment and resettlement, tackling climate change, technology and environmental sustainability.

Marriage Equality

Social Media Responses:

Instagram, Reddit and Twitter

Domestic Violence

Social Media Response:

Twitter & Reddit

Join AC Chrissy and speak up! #takeastand #DVAM #NoMore

A post shared by John Porter (@sjcreslife) on

Refugee Treatment and Resettlement

Social Media Response:

Reddit, Twitter & Instagram

Climate Change, Technology and Environmental Sustainability

Social Media Response:

400 protesters In Australia mocking the government’s reluctance to put climate change on the agenda of a G20 summit. https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/2mahe0/400_protesters_in_australia_mocking_the/

Student responses on how to brave in this new world:

In today’s society it is easier to avoid and deflect the issues surrounding the development in our world. In doing so especially in my generation it allows us to focus more solely on the technological advances not the economical challenges that we are facing. I personally feel that the problems we are faced with today I can have in no way an impact on in the future. It feels hopeless that any change can occur from the youth as society is already set in its ways. Technology gives people hope that they can make a difference without actually giving them the power to do so. – Leise, Yr 10, Brisbane, Australia

It is hard to be brave in this new world but it is possible. It is possible because we as humans can do amazing and extraordinary things when we put our minds to it; it only takes a little effort. To dare to be brave in this new world we first have to dare to be honest with ourselves and see the reality as it is, but this reality we have created can be overwhelming. One thing I have learnt through my journey during high school is that to look at the big picture is like trying to hold the sky; it’s nearly impossible. We first have to look at the small things that lead up to the big picture because it makes everything transform into something much more achievable. “Everything seems impossible until it is done,” – Nelson Mandela. This is too true. As I mentioned before, humans are extraordinary. To think only a hundred years ago the human race was beginning to understand science and invent amazing machines and inventions that have helped evolve and assist us today. To think there was once a medieval time where murder was accepted and illness plagued the world. The human race has come so far and we are still becoming more. It only takes a little awareness, determination and bravery to become the next Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela or Amelia Earhart. To dare to be brave in this would we must first dare to be positive and believe in a better world, only then will we achieve greatness. – Sian, Yr 10, Brisbane, Australia

The idea that such advancements in technology are making teenagers “more distracted, less social in meaningful ways, less empathetic and more selfish” is in my opinion, far from reality. Although this may be the case for some teenagers, it is most certainly not the case for all. The influence of mass technology on young adolescence depends purely on how the individual chooses to utilize it.

Despite being popular for entertainment purposes, social media sites (such as Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter) provide a strong outlet for young people to access news and information, express their opinions and communicate their ideas with like-minded people. For many young people, it is their main source of current news, and an opportunity for exposure to worldly events. While mainstream television and gaming apps may be “distracting” the population, there is an equal (if not more) amount of current news sources, which are increasingly becoming more accessible to the populations. Social media and advanced technology has made current news incredibly accessible, and furthermore, is allowing “the average teen” to express his/her opinions on a topic. It was only a couple of decades ago that people had to wait for the mailman to deliver the daily newspaper, but in today’s advanced society, news hubs are literally right at our fingertips. Instead of having to write a ‘letter to the editor’ to debate a topic, teens merely have to log in to their twitter accounts and write a comment for the whole world to instantly see.

In Harley’s Brave New World the general population were denied the ability to question the acts of the government. In this aspect alone, the novel does not at all reflect our current society. All one has to do is turn on the television to see the amount of scrutiny and controversy the government receives from the general population; regular protests, viral videos and individual complaints. Social media site Tumblr alone is littered with angry rants and heated debates on worldly issues. Young people in this day and age are given the tools to be anything but “hopeless and helpless” when it comes to creating change and addressing our world’s most pressing problems – and clearly, they are utilizing these tools. If anything, increased advancements in technology have allowed young adolescents to question the acts of the government and actively move for change. – Sam, Yr 10, Brisbane, Australia

The atmosphere is challenging yet hopeful. There is an acknowledgement of the difficulties this generation face. However, there are also movements of vision and hope that is evidenced through social media and youth if people take the chance to listen. This brave new world has a lot going for it – it just has to be acknowledged a lot more loudly, it needs to be celebrated every day and there needs to be deliberate action to improve outcomes for future generations. How do we do that?

Remember people who do things like this…

One of the most inspiring pages to explore common bravery exists in the land of Imgur. Search under “brave” or “courageous” and you will be reading stories like these…

This is Tugce Albayrak, a young German woman who showed remarkable courage. After overhearing two teenage girls being attacked in a bathroom by three men, she confronted the men and allowed the girls to escape. Sadly, later that evening she was attacked in the parking lot by one of the men, and hit her head on the concrete and went into a coma. Three days ago, on what should have been her 23rd birthday, she was removed from life support. Her attacker confessed to the crime and is currently awaiting trial in Germany. I wanted to share this story with Imgur because I think this woman deserves recognition, albeit posthumously, for what she did in protecting strangers she didn’t know. As a grown man I wish I could say I’d have that kind of courage, but, one can never really know. Rest in peace Tugce, I know of at least two strangers who will never forget you, and neither should the rest of the world. Here’s the article where I first read this story: read:http://hellogiggles.com/tugce-albayrak/#read

Read sources that provide insight and hope for the future like…

TED.com

the r/UpliftingNews section of Reddit.

Follow people on Instagram and Twitter who are trying to make a difference.

And lastly….

SPEAK UP when you witness injustice.

SPEAK UP when you have an idea.

TAKE ACTION because if you don’t then no one else will.

Dare to be: Different

Ever since I started the blog for this assignment I have been having some interesting conversations with females over the last week. One thing stands out – as teenage girls we struggled. We struggled to find our identity. We struggled to find our voice, our power and our position in society as we get told by mass media and the world around us about how we should be. The biggest struggle we had as teenagers was being different. Being different made you stand out – and not always in a good way. Though, as the technological revolution blossoms and social media takes over it is becoming more and more obvious that we are no longer slaves to the media of the past and, as I mentioned in my previous post, we can change how we and the teens view ourselves – it starts with what we choose to read, view, listen to and take part in….

And one way to stand out and be yourself is my love for Cosplay.

“What’s cosplay?” you ask.

For those not familair with Cosplay  it stands for “costume play”. It’s a type of performance art where participants dress and act to represent a specific character.

My first experience with Cosplay was when I stumbled into Harajuku in Tokyo at 10am on a Sunday morning. It was the most mind-boggling, overwhelming and refreshing thing I had seen a group of people do. They were all creative, out there, crazy, in your face, “I don’t care about what anyone else thinks! I’m going to do whatever I want!” kind of atmosphere and I loved it!

(Upload.wikimedia.org, 2015)

(Deviance.iheartsociology.com, 2015)

(Tokyofashion.com, 2015)

The beauty of cosplay is that it isn’t just about shopping. It’s a craft. It takes time. It takes dedication, perseverance and skill. It’s one of those worlds that if you choose to dive in it there is no going back.

One of my personal inspirations for cosplay is this guy. He’s a mad cosplay freak and I have watched his progression with life as a cosplayer with glee. Especially when he isn’t scared to dress up and write blog entries on gender and genderbending and how dressing up as a girl in a cosplay convention can get you a LOT of unwanted attention. Let’s be honest, how many men would be game enough to do this?!?! I salute you, sir!

Classic Leia

(Madartlab.com, 2015)

Cosplay is growing around the world and in Australia. As a resident of Brisbane for the last 4 years I have noticed more pop culture and cosplay events occurring in and around the city.

SupaNova, OzComicCon, the EBgames Expo and the AMC Expo attracts cosplayers like this…

(Photobucket, 2015)

(S-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com, 2015)

They dress up as magicians, warriors, elves, vampires, trekkies, time travellers and mystical creatures and most of all, they have a hell of a lot of fun being diffferent.

(Reeljungle.com, 2015)

(Fc00.deviantart.net, 2015)

The SyFy channel now has 2 seasons running of the Heroes of Cosplay. And you thought this was just a passing phase? Hell naw! Costume it up, peeps!

(Topfamousquotes.com, 2015)

What a lot of people think is that this is all just about getting dressed up. What a lot of people don’t understand is that almost all of this is handmade. Think about how much time, skill and effort all this would have taken. Teenagers who are immersed in this world learn an abundance lessons that they can take away with them to their adult lives. Most importantly cosplay respects skill more than anything else. Yes, it looks good, but the reason it looks good is because someone worked damned hard to put all of that together and this should be respected.

Don’t get me wrong – there is awful cosplay out there. Let’s remember that the world of gaming is dominated by men. So, of course, you will get cosplay like…

I’m not sure the defense forces would find this adheres to Workplace, Health and Safety regulations… (S-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com, 2015)

You gonna fight dressed like THAT? (Snappypixels.com, 2015)

The really awesome thing about cosplay is that you don’t have to stick to the anime/manga/gaming genre. There is also…

Steam Punk Cosplay (Imgfave-herokuapp-com.global.ssl.fastly.net, 2015)

Game of Thrones (Winteriscoming.net, 2015)

Gothic Cosplay (S-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com, 2015)

And just when you thought you’ve seen it all I give you one of my favorites “Dystopian Diesel Punk”.

(Optimalhumanmodulation.files.wordpress.com, 2015)

But let’s not forget the real reason I love cosplay. It’s because for those who don’t quite fit in, for those nerds that have strange obsessions, for those people that have skills they want to develop, for those teens that dare to be different – live long and prosper!

Dare to Open your Eyes to: Our Objectification in Today’s Media

We live in a world that is saturated in advertisement.

We are exposed to a minimum of 5,000 ads per day. From TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, web pages, billboards, posters, packaging, etc.

Most of the advertisements our minds consume is unconscious.

Our minds our plastic. This means it’s maleable to its environment. You expose it to something constantly for any length of time and it reprograms itself to a different default state. We are not even aware that their messages are slowly being implanted into our brains from a very young age and way into adulthood. It isn’t until we “grow up”, learn our lessons and begin to take action that we start to realize the effects that advertising has had on us.

So why should we care about this? What’s wrong with consumerism, materialism and capitalism?

The questions above can be answered very well by watching this. I’ve watched it three times in the last week. A lot of its messages I already knew but somehow it took working at an all girls school to make me realise how important this issue actually is. Every day I see future women in front of me struggle with their image and what is expected of them. It breaks my heart to watch them attempt to achieve the impossible standards put forward by the corporate industry. It breaks my heart because I know what they are going through. I also know what they will be going through if they don’t manage to shake off the conditioning that they have been put through by the time they have to meet the real world.

Advertising exists to make a profit. To make a profit it seeks to diminish you as a person. To objectify you. To make you feel insecure. To create a need that wasn’t there before. To do this, they start young. If you still don’t understand then this is where I will show you what you or your daughter might be seeing as they grow up…

“Hi! I’m Barbie. Look at me and all my friends. Aren’t we awesome?! Look at our shiny hair. Look at our big doe eyes, our long legs, our tiny waist, our shapely large breasts and bee-stung lips. Check out our fashionable clothes, high heels and make-up that took 2 hours to put on. We are perfect. You want to be like us. You want to look like us. You want to be us.” (2015)

Total Girl Magazine Subscription

Targeted to the “tween” market ( ages 9-14). Content includes: horoscopes, personality quizzes “Which of Selena’s BFFs are you?”, Style Files, Glam Galleries, Beauty Blog, Fashion Blog, Entertainment, Disney, Gossip Blog, Celebrity interviews, profiles, galleries and the “top” article of the month is…..”Marlisa Talks Life After X Factor!”. (Isubscribe.com.au, 2015)

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Image result for girls toys

Babies. (Encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com, 2015)

Prince Charming (Img3.wikia.nocookie.net, 2015)

Love (Img3.wikia.nocookie.net, 2015)

Romance (Images2.fanpop.com, 2015)

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Skimpy outfits (Encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com, 2015)

All this before we even hit 12. Now, I’m not saying that all kids get the same amount of advertisement saturation or message. However, the overwhelming majority of children in countries like Australia and the US are marketed to in a similar fashion. It may be unconscious but the constant messages in the products available to girls all say the same thing….

Like pink!

Have babies! 

Your prince will come and save you some day!

Just make sure you look pretty with….make-up, revealing clothes, shiny hair and unrealistic physical expectations for yourself!

Giggle, be flirty, be pretty and all will be yours!

Sound a bit harsh? Wait until you see what hits them just as they go through puberty….

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Yes…people watch The Kardashians. And they love it. Do they realise what they are doing to their brains when they watch it continously?

And now, according to the ad above, periods are something to be embarassed about, something we have to hide.


It doesn’t matter what magazine it is…the message is the same. Fashion, Boys, Sex & Beauty

You think it stops as we reach adulthood? Guess again…

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and then we have this…

the good thing is at least Sarah Hanson-Young has a sense of humour…

and as Julia showed us…we DON’T have to be quiet. We CAN speak up. We WILL make ourselves heard. We WILL make ourselves be respected.

Studies mentioned in Miss Representation advise that at age 7 boys and girls equally want to become president or prime minister (30%). By the time they reach their teenage years the rate stays the same for boys yet dwindles to almost nothing for girls.

After what you’ve seen above…can you blame them?

Stay Tuned. We CAN change this.

Dare to be: Alive.

WARNING: This post is not for sensitive eyes. If you have no stomach for blood and gore – beware.

I have an obsession. It’s a pretty twisted one. It likes blood. It likes apocalyptic fantasies. It loves post-apocalyptic scenarios where people run for their lives. It loves gore. It loves the thrill. The adrenaline. Most of all… it loves zombies.

Not just any kind of zombie mind you. It has to be the zombies that people find the most creative ways of killing.

How do I love zombies?

During Halloween I regularly dress up as a version of some kind of zombie. Along with a multitude of other teenage girls…

Zombie makeup ideas and detailed instructions on how to create your living dead look, with a Walking Dead makeup tutorial. Get your dead on this Halloween!:

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Love this pealed skin effect. To begin with it almost appears as though the model has been injured or in an accident then in the second image it appears as though she may be a daemon or vampire. This is a look i will be creating within my group image of a zombie apocalypse.:

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Halloween is getting closer and closer, do you know what you are going to dress up as? If the answer to that last question was “no” you should really check out this gallery of Halloween makeup. The talented people behind... [ read more ]:

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If interested Gurl.com has an amazing array of DIY zombie make-up advice.

When looking for a game to play on the console I reach for the goriest zombie game available. Dead Island anyone?

The Walking Dead is a regular fixture on my TV/laptop.

So is its spin-offs: Fear of the Walking Dead, Z Nation & Dead Set.

Soon it will be followed by iZombie, Resurrection, The Returned and In The Flesh.

I enthusiastically get the tingles whenever the Brisbane Zombie Walk is about to happen.

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I have a zombie apocalypse plan (I’ve decided that a hardware store like Bunnings would be the first place I would run to and hide). Apparently so do many others…

More zombie survival tips! Be ready for that next flesh-eating outbreak with this handy guide. #zombies #infographic #survival:

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I have seen almost every zombie movie known to man that I can find. In English and in other languages. Have you ever seen Dead Snow?

Officially one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen despite it’s blood and gore.

So one may ask.. WHY?!?!?

Why would *anyone* want to be exposed to this?

I have one answer that is quite consistent amongst those of whom share the obsession with Zombies. Among all the blood, gore, death, destruction and inappropriate humour (in some movies) it makes me feel alive.

“Alive?!?!”

I can hear the horrified gasps now for those that don’t see the sense.

Let me explain why Zombies are bad-ass and why they make those of us whom love the genre feel alive.

The scene above from Night of the Comet is a glorious example of how comedy is used to enhance a situation that would normally make people run and hide into the nearest corner. Instead, the female characters test out guns only to state that their father’s would’ve given them uzi’s instead.

Barbra in the Night of the Living Dead was so epic someone decided to create a tribute video just for her. There are moments in this movie where she makes me feel so alive every that I have to to a fist-pump and a “YEAH!” after her lines.

Resident Evil’s Alice has more kick ass moments in the movie and in gamer land than I could possibly list. Though the best part is that despite the odds she fights. She fights and she doesn’t back down. Though in addition to this, there are numerous female characters in Resident Evil that show females in fine form.

Witchita and Little Rock in Zombieland completely hoodwinked Tallahassee and Columbus multiple times in this movie.

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The ultimate is bad ass zombie females would have to be those from The Walking Dead…

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Carol’s progression from meek housewife to assertive gun toting woman has been one of the biggest highlights so far.

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Though my favorite of all would have to be Michonne. Silent and introspective for most of the TV show she has shown more strength, vulnerability and bravery than any of the other characters. In this scene, she comes across another zombie who looks very similar to her, therefore meeting her own death in the face. As she meets her reflection in the zombie she decides that she wants to live and not be one of them…

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Dare to be Buffy and Co.

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Buffy would have had to be my original pop culture hero. Through her I learnt to stand up for myself. That it was okay to be different, quirky and weird. She taught me to be vulnerable yet strong at the same time. She taught me equality and empathy. She taught me how to handle grief, break-ups and friendship issues with style and sass. She taught me that I have my own power as long as I believe in it and use it. Willow (Buffy’s best friend) taught me that nerds are awesome. It turns out I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. There are numerous blog posts online that demonstrate the influence the show had on girls at the time and the impact it is still having today. Google: What Buffy taught me and you’ll have a cavalcade of choices. Why has Buffy made such an impact to how girls see themselves?

Because it turns out that Joss Whedon, the creator of the character, is a feminist.

So what is feminism? It seems that a lot of girls are confused.

Feminism is defined as advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.”

Urban Dictionary also has some liberating definitions:

“FEMINISM IS:
1.)respecting people of all genders (recognizing the diversity in sexuality, from homosexuals, transgendered, heterosexuals and transexuals) as human beings that deserve to be treated with respect.

2.) recognizing the past inequalities that have historically denied women access to many social, economic and political spheres that are mostly occupied by men.

3.)Recognizing the result of these inequalities have lasting impacts today”

The strangest thing I have heard from the mouths of teenagers about feminism are the following:

“Don’t they burn bras?”

“Aren’t they against stay-at-home mums?”

“They hate men don’t they?”

Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting from The Big Bang Theory was asked recently if she was a feminist. She replied with “Is it bad if I say no? It’s not really something I think about. Things are different now, and I know a lot of the work that paved the way for women happened before I was around… I was never that feminist girl demanding equality.”

This caused enormous media backlash at the time and Kaley had to refute her comments in her Instagram account. Advising that she is blessed and grateful that strong women have paved the way for her success and many others.

So I ask myself, why is feminism shown in a negative light and how can we use characters like Buffy to demonstrate gender equality?

Feminism is seen in a negative light by society for various reasons. One is fear. Another blogger named Michael Kaufman highlights why men may be afraid of feminism. He advises that the main reason men are afraid is because “it challenges forms of men’s power and privilege that one-half of our species foisted on the other about 8,000 years ago”. Jessica Valenti’s vlog on why people are afraid of feminism hits the nail on the head with this one with “people are afraid of what they don’t know”.

Jessica outline the rise of the anti-feminist movement on social media. However, when one looks into it a little deeper you realise that it is based on a skewed definition of feminism. What was once covered in photos like these…

#WomenAgainstFeminism (Actionaid.org.uk, 2015)

Men Aren't Our Enemies

Men Aren’t Our Enemies (Womenagainstfeminism.com, 2015)

Feminism No Longer Stands For Equality

Feminism No Longer Stands For Equality (Womenagainstfeminism.com, 2015)

True Equality Comes From Treating Everybody Equally

True Equality Comes From Treating Everybody Equally (Womenagainstfeminism.com, 2015)

… is now filled with other photographs correcting the previous posts on their incorrect portrayal of what feminism actually is.

In true Buffy and co style a number of people on social media decided to create their own movement and memes to counteract the anti-feminist movement with quirk, style, sass and delivering their own brand of power…

#WomenAgainstFeminism

#WomenAgainstFeminism (Womenagainstfeminism.com, 2015)

#WomenAgainstFeminism

#WomenAgainstFeminism (Womenagainstfeminism.com, 2015)

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and who could forget the #ConfusedCatsAgainstFeminism?

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Reader submission. Confused Cats Against Feminism is brought to you by We Hunted the Mammoth, and by YOUR KITTIES. Submit! And buy crap at the Confused Cats Store! It’s for charity!

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Or #InanimateObjectsAgainstFeminism?

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Twitter was also set alight by those attempting to correct its misrepresentation.

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Celebrities weren’t far behind…

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And with a stroke of genius the UN pushed forward and chose Emma Watson (we all remember Hermoine don’t we?) as the face of feminism.

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What’s more Buffy-esque than that?

Let’s dare to be Buffy and Co.

Let’s dare to be feminists!

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Daring to be girls

Working in an all girls school can be a daunting experience – yes, even for other girls (or women for that matter).

When I first started I was definitely disconcerted. Upon entering the room for my first few classes I found the experience extremely eerie. It was dead silent. So silent you could hear a pin drop. No one would raise their hand to answer a question. A lot of hesitation. A lot of looking back and forth between their peers. A lot of uncertainty, self-consciousness and not a lot of resilience for some. This atmosphere of wanting to be perfect. Of wanting not to be wrong and look bad in front of your classmates.

Then I realised, as students, there was a massive difference between boys and girls in a group. However, I never really saw it until it slapped me in the face.

If I had walked into a co-ed classroom, the reaction would’ve been different as a myriad of personalities and genders all get thrown into one room. I would’ve had the student who constantly raised her hand to answer questions. I would’ve had the student whom constantly raised his hand to ask questions. The student who keeps wanting to go to the toilet. The student who can’t keep away from their mobile phone. The students whom have a very short attention spans and are a magnet for each other. Short of handcuffing them to the table (which we aren’t allowed to do) there seems to be nothing you can do to keep them still and on task.

Other experiences may be different but walking into my first single sex classroom in a single sex school was definitely memorable.

It took two months for the pin to drop and suddenly the girls got used me to. Once they got used to me, sussed me out, figured out what made me tick – the other pin dropped. The tears, the tantrums, the friendship issues, the mean girls, the depression, the anxiety, the crazy hormones running around their system that they didn’t know how to handle. I don’t believe a lot of adults know how to handle them either. In a school with a total of almost 500 bodies – with 6 brave male staff members (3 of them teachers) – being in an all-girls is a rude shock when you understand that at any point in time half the population of the school is going through PMS.

I’ll let that sink in for moment.

Then I turned a corner. I knew I had  looked at the situation reminiscing – I was missing being in a coed classroom. I missed the boys and their humor, their craziness.

After a few months I looked around again and I found everything that I was missing. And I found it all in an all-girls school. The characters, the wild ones, the individuals, the misfits & the popular ones. There was one thing I did notice more so than anything else working in this environment and I loved it. It was because being in an all girls school ALLOWED girls to BE GIRLS.

Where else would you have an entire cohort of high school in the hall singing and dancing along to Disney’s Frozen?

Where else would you have almost 100 students at a time participating in activities like Zumba and Yoga?

Where else would you have students whom cut out 500 hearts for every student and staff member to write get well messages for a staff member on sick leave?

Where else would you see students braiding each other’s hair during breaks?

And so to them, I dared to be a girl and I ask you to help them dare to be themselves.