Explaining Extremism To A 10 Year Old

Firstly how the hell am I old enough to have a human who’s about to turn 11?

Secondly, tonight is the second in a row that the Beanpole has returned from school tearful because of a semi-explained refugee crisis. Her heart breaks each time they discuss a story about the refugees in Europe and she couldn’t understand why their home was no longer safe. What made it unsafe? Is our country safe? What came to get them? The imagination of a 10 year old is a scary place (says she who was allowed to “watch” Alien at age 10 but had to cover her eyes for the scary bits. My imagination + the sound effects were WAY worse than Gieger). The imagination of a 10 year old with ASD and limited facts is much scarier.

So, we had a choice.

A: gloss over it and pretend life is fine, but it’s all very sad and to leave the adults to deal with it.

B: Get out some facts that probably aren’t that age appropriate, but are going to arm her with information.

It was always going to be B.

Stage 1. Explain about the changes in power in the Middle East in recent years. Accepted & digested.

Stage 2. Explain who ISIS are and why people are running away from them. Brick wall.

Ah crap. Ok, backtrack. Do you know what an extremist is? No. Ok, we have a starting point.

Most Christians use the bible as a guide, but still accept science & agree that everyone is entitled to their own faith, yes? Good.

Ok, but some people choose to believe that the bible is absolute fact and ignore everything else. In fact, they only believe in certain bits of the Bible and think everyone else is wrong. Is that a bad thing? Err…. it’s not if that’s their opinion, it’s only wrong if they want to force you to believe the same as them.

(We’re getting a light bulb here).

Well,  this group that some people call ISIS are a bit like that. Most (As in several million) Muslims have a Koran instead of a Bible and use it as a guide. They look after each other and accept that other people have different faiths.
Some (as in several thousand)Muslims have taken bits from the Koran and used them to believe that they have the right to kill people who don’t agree with them.

We’re getting extremism. This is an utter parent win.

So we went for the feel better ending by showing her how some people use humour to show how ridiculous the extremist Christians behaviour was in a tolerant society.


We figured here that she’s already heard all the bad words and the lesson of ‘know the word, but don’t use it’ is quite a powerful one. And actually, I’d rather she found a swear word used to dissolve intolerance funny, than shield her from bad language but allow her to be aware of mass murder. It somehow seems insignificant considering the topic of conversation.


We genuinely couldn’t have planned it better. It was like an episode of Sesame Street, ending on a moral message of most people are tolerant. These extremists are just that. In a very unwelcome minority.

What happens When I’m Staring Intently At My Laptop And Apparently Ignoring You.

Dear Husband,

I know you like to do that thing where we both speak words and they form this thing called a conversation. It’s just that I’m coding, and unlike you who appears to be able to Skype with clients, drink coffee and create almighty web apps that make people go ‘oooo!’. I am more typical of the programmer kin and need to focus to the point where bombs could explode (or parents can be steam cleaning the room) around me and all I see is a search for a semi-colon.

In lieu of the conversations that I think you were trying to have this morning, let me show you what I’ve been up to.

This is my student website. In I showed the initial design for the site, which admittedly took me a bit longer wrangling with divs than I had expected.

Today, we have a fully functioning sign up & login (yes, I know I need to sort out the alignment, but functionality before beauty).

website login

After that, I started to build the competition pages. Remember that idea you had about setting them a mystery quiz? Well, I’ve built it along with the first few challenges.
First, each page recognises whether you’re a guest, a student or an admin.

Guests – well, they get a message telling them that they only have access to the resources bit.

Students – The page looks at the database and works out which of the challenges they have successfully completed, showing them the next in the series. It also works out how many incorrect answers they have submitted.


Admin – This is planned to be a dashboard for administration of the competition and to get automatic results (the winner will be decided based on the speed that they go from the first to last challenge and how many incorrect answers they submit. This makes it fairer for those joining in late as I record the datestamp for each answer that is submitted.). But, for now, it allows me to enter new challenges into the competition and view the challenges alongside the answers. (the answers here are blocked out…. you never know who’s reading!)


Next? Well I still need to build a homework dashboard & the interface for the kids, and then a results & feedback dashboard for the kids to look at their progress. Some content on the resources might be quite nice too!

Not just yet though. Let’s have a conversation first 🙂