Sunday, June 10, 2007

Spock versus Russell

In Paris, France, it was goodbye to the non-smoking Hotel Cervantes and its generous breakfasts.
Surprisingly the table lamp that was knocked down and broken, replaced by the hotel maintenance crew by a new one, was not found on the invoice.
But for the phone calls made from the room a staggering 34 Euros (45$) was charged.

For a long time it is considered to purchase a mobile phone.
Right now this nomadic traveller might be one of the few persons in the developed world not having a mobile phone.
It is obvious to imagine though how convenient it would be to have a mobile phone.
Many situations while travelling have occurred when a mobile phone would have been super handy.
But it is hard to figure out where to buy a mobile phone, what kind and with which company.

In Paris a person was met who travels a lot and has two mobile phones with her.
One mobile phone she uses to receive calls where ever she is.
The other mobile phone she uses to buy simm cards in the countries she visits to make calls.
It is a complex way of doing but probably the cheapest.

For the moment the order is to wait for the unveiling of the iPhone.
To see what options that phone will have.

But fervent and loyal blog readers being experts in mobile phones might have good suggestions to make which are very welcome.

Before to catch the high speed train back to Amsterdam more meetings and a lunch with the African queen from Ivory Coast Dahiri Gabou using every minute of being in Paris.
But eventually and inevitably it was to the Gare du Nord, the train station.

In front of this station a group of gypsy women operate who approach non-French tourists asking: “Do you speak English?”.
If an innocent and inexperienced foreign tourist replies positively, the gypsy woman shows a card on which a tear jerking story ending with the request to give generously money to her.
To see these women operate is rather spectacular.
It is illegal what they do but nevertheless they all seem to be in a good mood and happy and like dancing among the thousands of travellers.

Studying them more reveals how they keep always in touch with each other.
They are like an exotic human matrix.
One reason for this is that the police is a threat to them.
At one point, like magic, all of the women started moving rapidly to a nearby entrance of an underground station.
One had spotted a team of policemen in riot gear on mountain bikes and somehow the gypsy women had communicated this information among themselves although widely located away from each other.
They grouped and ran: a colourful site to see these gypsy women in their long skirts and scarves run to keep their freedom.

It was planned to read the Herald Tribune in the high-speed train from Paris, France to Amsterdam, Holland.
But life had organised a Dutch couple having a 5-year-old daughter in seats in front.
The amazing phenomenon took place that during the 4 hours and 30 minutes of the train trip this child never stopped one minute to talk and to move.
One reason for this dynamic behaviour of the child was that as soon as they were seated the mother said, while the father had disappeared behind a newspaper:
”Now we are going to eat sweets but tomorrow we will eat healthy again”.
An example of inconsequential parental behaviour.
And out of the bag came Treets, M&M's, chocolate bars and other tooth decaying poison.
In a few minutes the child filled itself with relatively big amounts of sugar responsible for a sky-high energy level lasting the whole train trip.

The parents took turns supervising this dynamic child.
But the passengers around this couple and daughter experienced the full load of a child needing attention, recognition, confirmation, awarding, sharing and praising.
It was a typical example of modern Dutch education.
Dr. Benjamin Spock advices in his book “Baby and Child care” carried to its extremes.

Dr. Benjamin Spock.

One of the aspects of modern Dutch education is that parent’s instructions are allowed not be accepted by the child.
“You sit down now and stop talking. Daddy wants to rest”.
Next, the child keeps on talking and moving around ignoring completely the parental instruction.
“What did Daddy tell you? Sit down and be quiet!” the father lacking any authority repeats himself.
In the end, the child never is neither quiet nor obeying and continues its caprioles disturbing tens of people sitting around the small family in the train.
The father simply accepts to be a silly billy in the name of tolerance and anti-authority education.
And the etiquette is that nobody stands up to address the parents and reprimand them for being inadequate.
Or to complain bitterly.
Or to ask them their address to send them a copy of philosopher Bertrand Russell’s “Education and discipline”.

Philosopher Bertrand Russell.

We may wonder what kind of society we will live in when children now 5 years old and lacking proper parental guidance have become adults and in charge to run the world.


To learn more about philosopher Bertrand Russell’s ideas about education, click on:

To learn more about the paediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock, click on:



Stephan said...


Very good observations. As an inhabitant of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, I share your observations of a youth not listening to their parents. How much different this is in France which I visit quit often: children (in general) behave very well in the public space. But then again, when making a sidestep they get a stern reprimande, sometimes followed by a whack around the ears.

Ken Norton - Image 66 Media said...

It's been going on for a LONG time. We already have a large percentage of "adults" in their 20's and 30's raised this way. For some reason, I think they all end up in sales. ;)