Mary Leakey 100th birthday: A son on her adventuresome parenting
Mary Leakey 100th birthday: Her son, Philip Leakey, who learned to walk at a dig site, discusses the scientist's adventuresome parenting style. A bio about Mary Leakey might tell modern moms as much as any parenting advice book.
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Philip Leakey and his wife Katy run what might be called a Zulugrass-roots endeavor called The Leakey Collection, a Fair Trade design company based in Kenya. It sells items such as jewelry made by East African women (in their homes, not factories). They cut Zulugrass – which is hollow – into beads that are dyed and hardened. The company states that it “uses commerce as a vehicle to enhance the lives of the Maasai in an environmentally friendly, sustainable way while maintaining cultural and traditional lifestyles".Skip to next paragraph
Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.
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Mary Leakey didn’t just bring us remarkable scientific discoveries. She also left behind three fine examples of why every day should be take your kids to work day, even if it’s just talking about your job. By including our children in our passions we help them dig deep into their imaginations to unearth their own passions in life.
Here is a Q&A with Philip Leakey about his mom:
Q: Did you ever go on digs with your parents? If so was there any one that stands out in your mind?
Yes. I grew up on the digs on school holidays. I learned to walk at Olorkesaili, [Kenya,] the hand tool site.
Olduvai is where I have some of my fondest memories and my greatest early learning experiences.
You did not choose your mother’s career path, but a more politically active and civic-minded life. What part of you upbringing influenced you toward that choice?
My father influenced me towards that end, but my mother raised me learning her skills of perception of people.
One publication stated that you and your brothers were raised by a nanny until you were old enough to go adventuring with your parents. Is that correct and if so how did that work?
No that isn’t correct. We were not raised by nannies.
At what age did you first go on a dig?
Mother took me when I was a baby. As I said I learned to walk at Olkorkesaili.
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Can you tell a bit about your education and if your mother “home schooled” you and your brothers at all or how she taught you about what they were working on?
Both my parents encouraged us to participate in their work as much as possible from working on the sites to engaging with all the people related to their work through identifying all the specimens. It was a hands-on learning experience throughout the entire process. We were included in all the discussions, the debates and every step of the way.