The Sexiness of Goldfish

The way you measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Issue No. 125 – 25 February 2013

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The Sexiness of Goldfish

Have you ever considered goldfish sex appeal? No, I bet you haven’t. Neither had I until yesterday when I was on the treadmill in front of the fish tank at my daughter-in-law’s house (well, it’s her parents’ house). I’m here in China awaiting the birth of my first grandchild and to while away the time a brisk walk on the treadmill (because it’s snowing outside) is a good thing.

The tank is very large and full of goldfish because it’s Chinese New Year, and because I’m a captive audience as it were, I have time to scrutinize them. I notice the hierarchy, the pecking order, who is the bully and who gets bullied, and yes, I even see the ugly ones and the attractive ones! When we may see a tank of goldfish we usually see them as a collective without noticing difference. Then we may observe what else is in the tank, in my case two baby sharks and three sucker fish to clean the tank and there’s some plastic ‘greenery’ for the fish to hide in and some gravel on the bottom. By this stage most of us would have moved on. But I’m a captive audience. I can’t leave for an hour. In this time I can observe a whole lot of difference in those goldfish apart from their social status. There’s size, colour, shape and most especially, different eyes. Most have yellow eyes with a big pupil and one eye with a little pupil. Some appear to have no iris at all, having enormous black eyes, one of which looks a bit like a crayfish with protruding eyes. Of the few with black eyes, most have very wide apart eyes, not an attractive feature by most animal standards, including in fish. Now I’m not a fish expert and if you are you’re probably rolling your eyes by now because there’s probably a perfectly sensible biological reason for all this, but I call it diversity. Back in my fish tank there’s one black-eyed beauty with lovely eyes, if I can call it that. Not too wide apart, not squinty, just perfect. This is my sexy fish. It is interesting that this one seems to get bullied a lot. I wonder why? Because he is different?

It is said that most Europeans think all Chinese look the same while the same can be said of Chinese thinking all Europeans look the same. And we all think all goldfish look the same. But they don’t. I’ve just told you how different they are. In the same way there’s enormous diversity in facial and other features in every race but we need to look. When we see people collectively, it is easy not to notice difference.

Consider a baby suckling from a mother’s breast. The baby spends the whole time scrutinizing the mother’s face to discern features. It takes a long time to form those neurons to recognise difference because the baby is young. It doesn’t take a moment for us adults to notice difference but we are all so caught up in the minutiae of our daily lives that we still don’t notice!

What has all this got to do with children, you may ask. Everything. Consider how they learn best – by observing, being involved, testing, experimenting, exploring – a more sophisticated version of the baby. If only we could recapture that ability to observe, to go slowly, then we could truly notice every child’s difference – physically, socially and cognitively.

Just like the goldfish, every child is enormously different, even though when you see them assembled for an occasion they seem like a collective, especially in uniform. It is in celebrating their individuality that all the difference will be made to their outcomes in life and hence, to the outcome of all our futures. Too often they are considered as ‘factory fodder’ where difference is not valued.

The cornerstone of the Reggio Emilia approach to education is observation, extending the child based on observation (the child and the teacher’s) and so we have well-rounded children. It is important to emulate this approach, otherwise we end up with nothing more than a tank full of goldfish.

Kidz-Fiz-Biz Resources

If you want the children in your midst to stand out from the crowd and not become a bunch of goldfish, check out the Kidz-Fiz-Biz resources.

Wanting to attend a PD but not in Perth? Check out the Kidz-Fiz-Biz DVD Let’s Get Physical.

Quotes of the Week

“Keep away from small people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” ~ Mark Twain, 1835-1910, Writer and Humorish

“Recognize that when others criticize you, they do so out of fear. You can be sure that inside each of them is a “spirit” secretly applauding you for breaking free and wishing they had the courage to do the same. Be their inspiration!” ~ Sylvia Marina from ‘Good Medicine’ 2/8/10

“The people who are lifting the world upward and onward are those who encourage more than criticize.” ~ Unknown

“Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen every day.” ~ Unknown

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” ~ Pablo Picasso


The following images are really interesting photoshop images that require you to really look.


“It was presented in an enthusiastic, hands on manner that was fun and educational. Thank you.” ~ Carolyn Couper, Bluff Point Primary School, K-3

“It was a fun night out with lots of useful ideas and information. I especially enjoyed the scarf and ribbon stick usage. It was excellent.” ~ Bronwyn Dumitro, Spalding Family Playgroup, Geraldton (from Geraldton PD August 2011)

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

PO Box 6894, East Perth WA 6892, Australia
T: +61 8 9325 1204 M: +61 (0) 410 64 2781 E:

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Until next time … continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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