Amazing Artwork

Hi everyone!

One of my new years resolutions was – DON’T BE SO MESSY!

So I took it upon myself to start filing a few things.  But only a few minutes into this very very boring task I stumbled across some of the beautiful artwork I received during the year.  This Artwork is so AMAZING I simply had to share it!

Adonia and CharlieParthenonOracle with KidsElements and ParthenonElements 4Elements 3Elements 2Elements 1Charlie with Key

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Thank you St Joseph’s School

What a great time we had in the Riverland last week and a HUGE THANK YOU to St Joseph’s School for being so warm and welcoming!!!!
So many budding readers, writers and actors made for an AWWWWWESOME time!!! Also a HUGE THANK YOU to all those Platos, Oracles, Warrior Girls, Gold Ladies, Xenophons, Elements, Shapes, and of course Charlies! Look out Hollywood!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

St Joseph's Murray Pioneer

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Carpe Diem

Sadly, yesterday we mourned the loss of a truly great comedian, actor and soul, Robin Williams. It is difficult to describe why William’s passing leaves us with such an overwhelming feeling of loss.  After all, none of us knew Robin personally … but we felt as if we did.  For me Williams’s movie, Dead Poets Society, rates not only as an all-time classic but a timeless motivational statement to us all ─ to be the best we can be. The film inspired generations of teachers, stirred the dreams of millions of children and touched the heart of anyone wallowing in indecision.

The catch line from the film was the Latin phrase ‘Carpe Diem’ or ‘Seize the day’ which came from a famous poem written by Horace in 23BC. Horace was an Epicurean and subscribed to the teaching of philosopher, Epicurus.  Epicureans see happiness as being the greatest good, and to attain it they live a modest life, seek knowledge about the world, and live free from fear and pain ─ a simple and humble philosophy which in our time, probably difficult to implement.

But I think Williams for one, would want us to subscribe to Horace’s Epicureanism when mourning his loss ─ let us live free from pain. Carpe Diem.

Rest in peace Robin.

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Plato – Easy to read, hard to understand

Great book launch in Sydney the other night! What a party!  …And judging by the number of attendees … people truly are interested in Plato!  Thanks for all your support!

But one thing that surprised me a little was the question I was asked the most – ‘How long did the book take to write?’

It’s a good question.  Had I written a children’s adventure book (without Plato) the same length (approx. 27,000 words) the novel would have taken 6 months to write, then after several rounds of structural editing, 6 months to rewrite. A copy editor adds about another 3 months of adjustments.  So in total – 15 months.  Done!

BUT because I wanted to write about Plato, the book took MUCH, MUCH, longer.   Of course I had to start off with Plato’s original texts – easy to read, hard to understand.   Let us remember, Plato was writing in an ancient time, in a context unrecognisable to ours, with words we don’t use.  So after I had read Plato’s texts, I had to read what the academics had to say about Plato.  And being academics, they never agree.  Take the Myth of the Cave for example – below is a list (not exhaustive) of possible meanings.

An Analogy of:

  • Knowledge of the Eternal World (or Plato’s world of the Forms)
  • The state of the human condition
  • Philosophical enlightenment
  • Importance of education
  • Spiritual enlightenment
  • What is illusion? What is reality?
  • People need to experience, not be told

…the list goes on…

In Plato’s Academy, I pick the first one. I interpret the Myth of Cave, as Plato’s analogy for people living in the darkness, seeing only what is around them (the shadows), not able to see the eternal world (or Plato’s world of the Forms, or world of Ideas). Plato argues that the philosopher can see the eternal world (the prisoner who escapes the cave) and it is his duty to educate the others (return to the cave). But as you can see, there are many interpretations.  When you have time, I encourage you to read Plato’s Myth of the Cave, it’s a very short piece of literature, beautifully written, and decide for yourself.  Plato would have liked that.

So to answer the question, with extensive reading and research, Plato’s Academy took me about four years to research and write.  My next book is on Descartes ─ I find him easier to understand than Plato, so I am guessing it won’t take me as long!

 

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Do kids really need to know about Plato?

After all, didn’t Stephen Hawking (the great physicist) come out and say at a Google conference that ‘Philosophy was Dead.’

Are famous philosophers from the past really that important to children?  Or to anyone for that matter? Where is the relevance? And who really cares?

Philosophy at the most basic level is a series of questions that only a thinking person can ask. Questions like:

Why am I here?

What is the nature of the world?

Is there life after death?

What is knowledge?

Is it better to be good than bad?

What is truth?

How should I live?

Kids ask these questions all the time ─ naturally.  But other people, before them, have asked these very same questions. Philosophers!!!  Famous philosophers from the past have not only asked these questions but they have argued, quite eloquently in most cases, their positions. So does it hurt for children to know who these people were and what they thought? I don’t think so…

One or two of a philosopher’s ideas, might even cement a child’s own thoughts about life. And even help them along their journey. But even if a child can’t relate to any idea, at a minimum, they are aware of it. Awareness is better than ignorance ─ and it is something that can be taken with them for the rest of their lives.

I found a nice little definition of ‘awareness’ on the internet from a philosophy dictionary that I had never heard of ─ ‘Awareness is being aware of something without necessarily understanding it.’ Awareness has to be the first step of any learning process. You cannot possibly understand something without firstly being aware of it.

 

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Philosophy for Kids – Where did it start?

Years ago, I scuttled into a Uni lecture theatre and sat next to a geeky looking guy who jabbed his phone viciously with his finger.

‘What subject is this again?’ I asked.

‘Foundations of Management Thought,’ came the reply. ‘It’s about philosophy … it’s compulsory.’

‘Right.’ I said. I stared blankly at the lectern. Philosophy. What did I know about philosophy? Next to nothing.

Then a lecturer blasted through the door, he waved his hands about his head and his voice bellowed across the theatre, down the corridor, and outside to the students puffing cheap cigarettes near the lake. He was passionate. He spoke fluently. He knew his stuff. You could just tell. He started talking about Plato.

I stumbled out of the lecture theatre feeling gobsmacked and slightly woozy. It quickly became apparent that if I was going to nail this MBA ─ I had to get up to speed on philosophy. And fast!

So I started reading … and reading some more … and more … (I won’t write ‘and more’ again, but just so you know, I never stopped reading)

Many years later, I came to question why I wasn’t exposed to philosophy in school. Critical thinking and reasoning skills are actually quite useful in life. In fact, I will go further than this. THEY ARE FUNDAMENTAL. So why did my Australian school education bypass philosophy altogether? I have no idea. Should it have? No.

Then, I started wondering how I could get my own children exposed to philosophy. At the very least, they should be aware of who the great philosophers were. So, I developed a cunning plan. Write them books! How hard can it be? Write a few adventure novels ─ make the stories interesting. Throw some of the famous philosophers into the mix. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy. 

ABOUT A THOUSAND DRAFTS LATER … Plato’s Academy and the Eternal Key, is finally released. And thank you all for your terrific support!

 

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