18th September 2008

Camille is born!

Our second daughter is born yesterday, this is well worth writing a post :)

Her name is Camille, and the Japanese transcription is 迦実 (kamii). Since I am often asked about the meaning of the name, here is a word of explanation: the first kanji, (ka) has actually no particular meaning in Japanese and is mainly used for transliteration of names. This character appears among others in the word shaka 釈迦 (which means Buddha), but the meaning I assign it personally is rather based on the ideogram structure: the central part 加 means “to add”, and the external part Path is “the path”, which I (very freely) translate as “the path of Life”. The second character , has a more obvious meaning: “fruit” or (in a different context) “certainty”. My own translation of Camille’s name is therefore “the fruits of a pathway of Life”. You can find it back in the little haiku (Japanese poem of 17 syllabes), which I composed for her:

Douce pluie d’automne.
Camille, tu portes les fruits
d’un chemin de Vie.

I have actually included this little haiku in the birth announcement card in Flash, which can be found here (don’t forget to turn the pages with the mouse!).

And here is a picture of Camille, and one of her elder daughter Manon, taken 2 and a half years ago. Did you say they look like each other?

Manon Camille

posted in Family | 2 Comments

12th September 2008

Steiner Education

I just finished reading a book entitled “An introduction to Steiner Education: the Waldorf School” by Francis Edmunds. The reason why I read it, is that the kindergarten we have chosen for our daughter happens to be a Steiner school, and I wanted to better understand the underlying thinking.

I am not going to try summarizing Steiner education here (see the book, which I think gives a fairly good overview), but I just want to share with you an excerpt of the book which I felt particularly interesting:

Introduction to Steiner Education: The Waldorf School

[...] Waldorf education is based on man as a threefold being. That he thinks, feels and wills, that he is head, heart and limb, is taken to be obvious. Event that he consists of body, mind [...] and spirit [...] is widely accepted. Yet it can hardly be said that these distinctions have entered deeply into educational practice. There the intellectual approach has grown more dominant at all levels. [...]

The headwise approach, as we have called it, has serious consequences. Is the child brainy, will he be able to pass exams, are questions that weight greatly on parents. The non-exam child, the child in whom heart and limb do not keep pace with the head, comes to be looked on as inferior. Art and the crafts play second fiddle. Thus all the three phases, infant, child and adolescent, are pressed forward intellectually and this has consequence for the whole life. The clever ones are extolled, but where are the artists and the craftsmen who embellish life and give it greater quality? They are rare to find.

But the effects of overemphasis on head and brain learning go further than this. We see how children in the kindergarten lose their spontaneous genius for play. They grow restless, are bored or get uncontrolled, and then they need adults with their thought-out games and learning devices to engage and entertain them. What belongs properly to the first years of schooling is pushed down prematurely into the pre-school years. That means drawing the children into their nervous system, making them ‘heady’ too soon; but that in turn also means robbing them of their early powers of imagination, the source, if allowed to play itself out naturally, of greater creativity in later life. Then, as is seen so clearly in public life, we arrive at adults who fall short of demand, who cannot enter with imagination into the problems, mainly human problems, that confront them, and therefore cannot arrive at the needed solutions.

I personally completely agree with this analysis, although I reckon it may be seen as extreme and likely controversial. But I would be really interested to know what you think about this. Are our schools indeed too “intellectualizing”, or do you think it is just a normal evolution of the 21st century in which we live?

posted in Books, Opinion | 6 Comments

11th September 2008

My daughter grew up in a year!

Last week Saturday, we took part in a festival organized every year at the kindergarten which my daughter will attend from next year. Interestingly, we took part to the same event (almost) exactly one year ago, and the proposed activities were the same as last year.

You may want to ask why this is interesting. Well, because it gave me the chance to observe my daughter in the exact same situation as one year before, and see her evolution in one year. Amazing! Last year, Manon was 19 months old (this year 2 years and 7 months) and you really can see the difference: she was a “passive” baby last year, and this year, she became an active child, who really takes part to the activities.

You can get a feeling through the pictures below (left are from 2007, right from 2008).

Eau 2007 Eau 2008
Vent 2007 Vent 2008
Feu 2007 Feu 2008

posted in Family | 1 Comment

4th September 2008

What are your sources of information?

It’s been a while since my last post. Is “Ma tasse de thé” being abandoned?

I have to admit I was quite busy, among other things by the acquisition of a new house (!) and by preparing the birth of our second child (!!) And while I hope coming back on these later, it is not about this I wanted to write today.

A question which occupies me these times is: How to keep myself up to date?

You will tell me to read the paper, or to browse RSS feeds. I (almost) don’t read the paper, but I do use Google reader at best, but although the tools is there, I realize it’s all about how you use it.

Google Reader
Google Reader

Which feeds to choose? Pierre told us about the importance to keep your feedreader “alive”, by adding new feeds and getting rid of those you don’t read, and I agree. But it requires you to be proactive. I sometimes see myself scrolling from one post to the other in a feed, without remembering a lot from my “reading” (apart being a good exercise for my mouse scrolling wheel, it’s not very useful). You need to throw away what’s not useful. Example: during the “D conference”, I thought it’d be nice to register to the “All Things Digital” feed, but now, I sometimes feel all these topics are not so interesting. –> Get rid of it!

But more importantly: how to find new feeds? This requires to surf more widely, which I don’t do often enough.

My favorite sources in Software Engineering are InfoQ and SE-Radio. I like to download the new episodes of SE-Radio and listen to them while I bike to work. It’s an excellent way to learn (more than being “up to date” because not all topics are really new).

This links me to what Pierre wrote in his post “What do they learn at school?” (waow, second reference to Pierre, he’ll become my guru!) It is even more important to continue learning, especially when you realize you didn’t learn anything at school…

Besides this, I enjoy entrepreneurs blogs, and blogs in the medical computing field, like this one or that one.

What about you? What are your sources of information?

posted in Myself | 2 Comments