Thursday, April 25, 2013

...And this be so... A heartfelt perspective... in response to each child's learning...

The truth, the innocence, and the all-knowing spirit of life fills our first breath. Who and what answers our first cry? What happens in the moments of life that fill the years to follow? Do we become the sum total of who touches, who answers, who denies, who ignores, who accepts, who rejects, who encourages? What moves us out of the shadow of our own experience? How do we hold on to the promise and joy of our own experience? How do we befriend that knowing within? What is the power that breaks the grip of oppression? What is this power that declares in silence, in words, in deed? What's this power that knows only itself as its teacher? 

Why do systems that purport to educate have increasing numbers of youth shutting the doors of school behind them? Why does society have increasing numbers of school age children leaving the very systems that are supposedly preparing them for the world of work, independence and productivity? 

A birth of a child is filled with promise and joy. Each birth is another opportunity to allow life its meaningful expression. The child almost instantly seems magnetized to particular stimuli and experiences. Why is the child so drawn? Wherein lies his or her individual quest? Do we allow the child’s responses and in turn learn more of what life is when newly presented? Do we allow the child to experience joy of knowing self? Are we able to guide, nurture and encourage inquiry and exploration? Or do we impose and ultimately destroy what is open, curious, exploratory and creative? Why these questions? When one has been an educator for over forty years these are the questions that challenge the credibility of your profession. For over three decades children, teenagers, young adults, adults and parents of those who have been tagged failure, learning disabled, emotionally disturbed, attention deficit disordered, hyperactive, gifted under-achievers and “lazy”, have chose to avail themselves of services that provide a renewed opportunity to explore self, learning style, creativity, and those experiences that have encouraged or have dimmed the joy of learning.

What has these last three decades of service taught me? It has brought me closer to the pain of so many and closer to the joy experienced when freed from false beliefs, misconceptions of self and a sense of powerlessness. Those who tell their story tell of the judgments, criticism and pain they experience as students of failure. Yes, many “drop out” of school and “drop into” the health, social service, welfare and judicial systems. Failure and the thwarting of what is whole and natural is indeed the hallmark of disease and dysfunction, be it personal, social, economic or political. Understanding of what is supportive of individual difference is basic to the creative and harmonious use of human energy and motivation.

If we hope to creatively and harmoniously use human energy and motivation we must be supportive of individual differences and self-knowledge. If we are to be true to the precepts of a democratic system of governance, we cannot create systems that negate, demean or discriminate. A system that tags a first grader as a failure must be newly accountable. If a child does not readily acclimate itself to the world of filling in blanks, matching pictures, coloring in spaces, matching symbols o sounds is this child a failure? Or have we, the bearers of judgment and the creators of arbitrary standards, failed? to sounds is this child a failure?

The relationship of the “Seven Rays of Natural Intelligence”©, Survival, Change, Transformation, Balance, Communication, Visualization, and Transcendence, to the requirements of reading, mathematics, social sciences, writing, language, creativity, science and the arts are explored. In this way the student is brought closer to understanding the integrative action of the mind-body energy system and its relationship to learning. The student experiences the communication between mind and body and comes to more fully appreciate the power of one’s inner resources. Practices to enhance readiness for the learning process and to reduce stress so often experienced by these students in their everyday lives include:
  • Breath Awareness
  • Use of the Neti Pot
  • Nutritional Guidance
  • Guided Relaxation
  • Creative Visualization
  • Centering
  • Hatha Yoga
  • Affirmations
  • Imaging
  • Clustering
  • Mapping
  • Music & Movement
  • Art & Color
  • Poetic Expression
  • Task Analysis
  • Subject Mastery
  • Study Strategies
  • APOGEE Acu-Tone™
  • APOGEE Somatic Phonics™
These practices have significantly improved physical health, have enhanced mental and academic skills, have facilitated self-expression and promoted self-awareness. The immediate and long-range benefits to students have been documented by improved behavior, attention, motivation, attitude, achievement, and acceptance of self. 

With clarity of purpose, and understanding of intent, the student increases his or her ability to direct his or her mind. The student emerges newly motivated, newly energized and newly appreciative of his or her own power and potential. As each lesson proceeds, be it in reading, mathematics, social studies, writing, language, science, or the arts, particular attention is given to the relationship of the subject to an aspect of self. The intent is to see the Self in all, to know the self as a student of life, ever evolving, ever changing, ever present. 

Improvement in school grades, standardized test scores, SAT scores have been notable. Handwriting has significantly improved through stress reduction activities that incorporate breath awareness, music and movement. The use of color and breath awareness has reduced the stress associated with the reading task. Reading scores have progressed one, two, and three years within six months of program implementation. Remedial math instruction incorporates breath awareness, movement, visualization and body awareness exercises. The student who has experienced failure so often feels apart from his or her own very being. These practices allow the student the opportunity to realign self with self. 

As the students become more aware of themselves, more respectful of the care they must give their own bodies, more aware of how – what they do, what they think, what they believe, what they fear, what and how they feel, influence their ability to learn, they no longer feel defenseless in the wake of stress nor do they continue to be the victim of stress. These students have come to more fully understand the significance of themselves, their feelings and their own inner resources as they witness the “A” replacing the “D”, the success replacing the failure, the acceptance replacing the rejection, the calm replacing the chaos.

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