Creative-C Learning: The Innovative Kindergarten
©2015 Peter Fritz Walter. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
— Chapter 2 : Love, Needs & Trust
‘Creative-C Learning’ presents a pre-school curriculum for a sane, holistic, brainsmart and systemliterate education of small children. The author’s educational approach is tailored to how our brain works and develops from ages 2 to 6. It’s a functional approach, not an idealistic one, based on the actual constitution of the human being, with all the complexity inherent in it.
The author contends that children are born sane and are rendered more or less insane by an educational system that till now considers the human being as the impossible human, that is, a creature that is basically faulty and has to be improved and upgraded by education, and morality. The present view opposes this age-old educational paradigm and shows that traditional education brings about fragmentation, ignorance and widespread violence.
The present curriculum emphasizes the natural integrity and wholeness of the small child, who is by nature a systems thinker. The curriculum builds upon this fact and presents a way to raise pre-schoolers in a learning environment that fosters systemic thinking capabilities, so that children become systemliterate at a young age.
The author also emphasizes the need for teaching emotional awareness to teachers and presents techniques to be applied in the vocational training for early child care workers and pre-school teachers that teach how to cope with stress, and that show the details of the trustbuilding process both between teachers and students and between parents and teachers.
The audience for this guide are all those involved in educating children, as well as educational policy makers, also parents, educational associations, politicians, pediatricians and child psychologists, and also the lay public, especially those who are looking for a new way to educate children now and in the future.
Chapter 2 : Love, Needs & Trust
I believe times have come to an end when we still gave our children a truly loving education. Most passionate educators today would probably regret the fact that throughout human history, children were disciplined violently and subjected to religious and ideological manipulation.
The greatest danger in our highly sophisticated technological societies is in my view that children are fed with a ‘standard’ soup of knowledge, a standard mix that is considered ‘good for all,’ and that accordingly the need for an individualized education is still overlooked or brushed off from the political agenda as an ‘unnecessary expense.’
In addition, educators who are working in a highly mechanized educational system cannot develop their true passion and their highest potential of ‘intelligent play’ that makes them to be good educators. As ‘intelligent play’ I denote the unique capacity of a great educator to transmit knowledge in a way that is ideally ‘prepared’ for the child to absorb it, because it is adapted to the child’s level of comprehension, and imbedded in a playful setting. The uniqueness of this educational approach is that the information, while it’s being given to the child in a special way, is not distorted, and thus the child is not manipulated.
The wisdom of the great educator is to somehow mold the information for the level of comprehension of the child, and only genius can do this, educational genius; it needs strong intuition to know what the individual child can manage to receive, and what is not yet in reach. Accordingly, the talented educator is constantly ‘managing information,’ and adapting education for the needs of the children he or she cares for; this is a very tiring business that only one is ready to do who has the real passion for education.
But this passion is quickly cooled down in a sterile system of education that is mechanical and repetitive, and where the teacher’s creative space is curtailed down to a tiny residual spot. This is why standard education, in the long run, destroys both the child and the educator.
We learnt from the ‘hippie’ experiments of the 1960s and 70s that it’s not very intelligent either to fall in the other extreme and to transform a child into an egocentric savage who has no respect for others and no inner culture. We had to understand that education also means showing the limits, for there is no society on earth without limits, and there cannot be in any society individuals who totally disrespect limits. So we have to educate children carefully, and without being violent, to respect limits, wherever this is reasonable and necessary. Doing this is an art, and no ideology or religion can ever help to learn this art; it needs strong intuition, and inner culture; it needs a passionate educator who is dedicated to his work and truly walks his talk.
Besides, it requires high communication ability, for without communication there is no education. Which means that communication between educator and child must be unobstructed and open, and trust has to be built, first of all! Trust is often built by educator and child bonding in a way to form a sort of ‘playful complicity’ which works very well in practice, while the time for building this inner space of restful confidence differs from one child to the other, and actually depends on many factors.
This complicity is affectional first of all, a form of privacy, a space that is inviolable by the outside world, and that is the basis of a friendship.
Friendship may be built, and is ideally built in the educator-child relation, but it’s not a must nor a necessity. But for education to be possible on any level, a basic trust relation must be built, and while the child gives signals how and in which ways to be ‘accessible,’ it’s the educator who is responsible for trustbuilding to succeed. It needs human skills and also simplicity; the more dispassionate you approach children, the better for the trustbuilding process.
The more you try to trap children in bonding that you direct by willfulness and all your ‘knowledge’ about child psychology, the less you will be able to build even a basic level of trust with the children you want to care for. I have observed this often in child care centers and schools where I have worked; educators who have this pushy approach are often rejected by children, while this reject is not outspoken of course; but these relations are regularly not deep and rather hypocrite and when there is a crisis, the child quickly retreats in their inner world and becomes ‘inaccessible.’
This is the fate, then, these educators cash in by their pushy unreasonable attitude, and they are often the ones who have studied a lot and think they know all the rules of the game. The pushy authoritarian approach doesn’t work even halfway with intelligent children, and it works even less with problem children, or retarded children, because the latter are very sensitive to the inner motivations of the educator.
Why are the physical needs of the small child more important to be cared for than the child’s intellectual and spiritual needs? In present postmodern society, as it develops toward an era of mechanism, robotism and automation, it’s as if the child’s body had been sacrificed on the cross of technology, which is strangely equated, by ignorant minds, with social progress.
Most religions are body-hostile ideologies that are assisted by the police state; this is how they jointly gave birth to the ‘social machine’ that only functions on a mere technological level and that is unable to integrate in its residual life concept the most fundamental needs of humans big or small. Yet the human being, contrary to what the positivistic social philosopher La Mettrie believed, is not a clockwork.
Mechanistic thinking, as it’s inherent in a technological culture, was for the first time eroded in the 1960s and 70s; many of the social experiments conducted during that time of ‘alternative living’ and the rise of the counterculture were set to be holistic; a different social paradigm was formulated, one that is integrated, and connected to mother earth, and that was inspired by the wisdom of native peoples around the world.
The child was no more considered a dwarf adult but a unique individual who, though small and inexperienced, possesses an innate and often surprising wisdom which manifests spontaneously in an ambience where the child receives loving care and attention.
However, the new trend did not last, and there were perhaps too many extreme approaches that were not durable; generally speaking, the passion for a new education, while it was a media runner for a decade or so, was not taking roots and today is to be found, in print, on the bookshelves of university libraries, with few exceptions such as Summerhill School that has survived its creator.
And yet, we cannot say that these efforts were wasted; they were precious, to be true, and the reason they are for the most part forgotten today isn’t because they did it all wrong, but is due to the political climate. I would even go as far as saying that these experiments contained the seed for a new world, a more peaceful and permissive society; these ideas were not illusions but for the most part inspired by a great vision.
Their fate to be met with resistance was logical after all when we consider that human evolution spirals upwards and doesn’t proceed in a linear fashion. So these expansive movements, as a matter of cosmic law, had to meet with political resistance, and thus the rudder turned in the opposite direction, heading toward more conservatism, more restoration of the old and traditional, and more restrictions.
It is undoubtedly difficult to give a sane education to children in this climate of fear, persecution and public hysteria, where you are spied out virtually at every corner of the street, where potentially your emails are read by government agencies and where at work places that deal with children, you are screened more carefully than a secret intelligence agent.
Despite the extreme solutions that were promoted during the time of the Hippie movement in the 1960s and 70s, these experiments with family, open life style, and multiple parenting as in the old extended family. In addition, in the communes of the 1970s, the physical punishment of children was banned, and children were talked to, instead of talked about, and child-rearing was for one time a matter of intelligent choice.
What psychologists and sociologists found with these children was that they were not pervaded by the hatred they found in homo normalis, but loving and caring, with a high level of self-assurance and competence. They were found to have high self-esteem, at a higher percentage than average in our culture.
If we want to understand the modern consumer child, we must first of all understand their body. A child who lives in a body that is locked on the muscular level will inevitably suffer from neurosis, insomnia, anxiety and bedwetting, as well as dietary disorders such as bulimia or anorexia. If in such a case traditional educational measures are taken, which typically focus on the mind of the child, and not their body, the symptoms will aggravate and the situation will worsen.
The traditional approach actually mechanizes the child’s spirit and splits it off from the soul. The result is the obedient and polite puppet that we know as the model type of traditional education.
The only way to protect the child’s creative life is to educate children in full knowledge of their creative drive, which means in full awareness of the child’s emotional identity, and by helping the child to develop and cultivate their emotional intelligence.
Spiritual maturity cannot be attained on the basis of thwarted emotions. It needs emotional vivacity. An education that is set out to avoid extremes must combine the sensual dimension with a systematic mental and spiritual awakening of the child, and in addition teach the many details of daily life through a focus on attentiveness.
This should be done without attachment to any specific culture, but in a pragmatic spirit, without cutting the bonds the child maintains with their culture or their religious belonging.
Education can be seen as a prolongation of conception and pregnancy; it’s an organic process that is reflected both inside educator and child. There are changes effected and a growth process triggered both in the child and the educator, when the educational relation really is a love story.
The desire to educate motivates the passionate educator to take care of the child with all the deprivations that this entails, because it is generally badly paid and requires countless unpaid hours, and a sustained effort that often is barely validated, and often not even noticed by the parents of the child.
We all know those men and women who really have no interest for children; they are all very busy with their computers, their racing cars, their airplanes and boats, their expensive travels, and their taste for luxury. They regularly experience little interest for working in educational professions, and even less, for working in early childcare.
An educator who wants to understand the child must first of all understand himself or herself. Accordingly, an educator who wishes to understand the child’s desire to be educated should meditate about his or her own desire to educate. The secret is that these desires correspond to each other in that they depend on one another. This means that educators have to render conscious their motivations for educating children, for if they don’t, their motivations will remain unreflected upon and can as a result lead their own life; repressed desires easily get out of hand, and they can turn violent because the energy polarity contained in the desire will change from positive to negative.
Hiding the motivations of our actions only creates guilt and fear, and is not conducive to educating a child responsibly. In addition, educators who do not want to develop emotional awareness will have more difficulty in adopting and respect the rules of the sane educational setting.
We all need professional training, whatever we are doing, and somehow, our society doesn’t think of educators needing an awareness building for handling their emotions. Such an awareness building is essential for the educator to become a true companion of the child, in the sense of a mentor and friend, who is not emotionally manipulatory.
I have seen in many schools that educators, without really being conscious of it, act out their primal scene with the children they care for, in the sense that they project all possible and impossible childhood hangups upon them; with the result of course that the relationship becomes pervaded with toxic shame, and ambiguous feelings and messages.
Then, when the dead end is reached, the educator usually collapses and either drops out into another job, or starts a psychotherapy.
However, educators who understand their body sensations, and are familiar with them will be able to effectively accompany the child in what is the most essential in the child’s life: their feelings, their desires and their most fundamental wish to love and be loved. Only educators who truly know themselves will be able to get on this track without either being bewildered by the complexity of the task, or tempted to act out their own sensual longings for the detriment of the child.
Getting to know oneself through developing innate creativity is only one of several realms of genuine experience the child grows up into, and becomes familiar with over time, without bothering for the least if, or not, the parents want it, know it, or support it. What the child learns first of all through artistic creation is the dimension and the importance of ecstasy in life, and ecstasy in turn is leading to the awakening of enthusiasm, which, as we know from art research, is a primary trigger of long-term creativity.
— See, for example, Michelle Cassou, Life, Paint and Passion (1996), Andrew Flack, Art & Soul (1991), Pam Grout, Art & Soul (2000), Shaun McNiff, Trust The Process (1998), Tony Pearce Myers (Ed.), The Soul of Creativity (1999).
Enthusiasm develops in the life of the child as a function of ecstasy on a daily level, and ecstasy is nourished by the very gradual and expansive process of self-knowledge.
The acquisition of self-knowledge should be gradual, not sudden, for if the educator tries to hurry this process in the child, this could lead to a rupture in the child’s natural continuum, and then things may get messed up and entangled on the level of the unconscious.
The ideal is the gradual, smooth unfolding of experiencing the world, and generally pleasurable feelings, in the life of the child.
These sensations of pleasure contribute to the awakening of ecstasy when there is enough latitude in the educational atmosphere for the child to learn that enthusiasm and abundance are natural expansions of the self and should not create guilt and shame. When that happens, a sexual education, as it’s done today in schools, really is not needed, and may even have counterproductive effects. Intellectualizing body sensations does not lead to consciousness but to self-consciousness.
With the process of gradual awakening and the daily experience of ecstasy through the encounter with art, children grow their cognitive apparatus because the sensing and feeling, and thereby direct cognition, is greatly enhanced through the natural streaming of their emotions, for emotions are but the life force itself. There is a sense of connectivity that goes along with becoming an early creator; it’s a feeling of expansion and embrace, a warm loving feeling toward the world. It is really the most positive experience a child can make when growing up, but it needs to be imbedded in a space of personal and artistic freedom that is respected by parents and educators. This means also that educators give warmth, empathy and understanding, and that they painstakingly avoid manipulation, educational violence and abuse.
Enthusiasm then develops naturally, and is shared with the educator who, in turn, gets a pro-life boost from being around enthusiastic children; it’s simply a mutually enriching process, and ideally it’s shared also with the parents.
This is then, what we call joy of life, and joy of life always is more abundant when it’s shared with others. This feeling of abundance, of plentifulness, is very important for the child, for it contributes to material wealth later on in life; there is about no other sensation as important for material success than experiencing abundance early in life. For this to happen, no expensive toys are needed nor do the parents need to be rich themselves; it’s enough to grant the child their personal space and their time for developing an authentic sense of self; then the joyful experience of abundance will develop naturally in the life of the child.
Let me comment on the notion of sharing here more in detail. I am convinced that parents and educators should communicate for harmonizing their educational approach. I have seen in several schools that educators were defending a paradigm of parental non-involvement in their educational strategies. I have observed how this works in practice and saw it’s not for the best of the child. Such an approach leads sooner or later to an unspoken or open hostility between parents and educators, and results in the child being exposed to contradictory educational approaches, which only creates confusion in the child’s mind. This approach is thus counterproductive to securing the child’s emotional security because it cuts the natural sharing between parents and educators, and deprives them of an essentially positive and rewarding exchange.
Besides, the example shows that dogmatic approaches, or black-or-white approaches really do not work in matters of education, and that the middle way is always best. There is no way around communication; whosoever thinks that in matters of education, they could do away with communication is mistaken and will not be a good parent or educator. Children are naturally communicative; if they aren’t, something has happened to them emotionally, or they grew up in an uncommunicative, mute family — which sadly usually is a violent family. Natural children are communicative, and they ask for communicative parents and educators, not only in their own relations with them, but also with regard to the relation parent-educator.
I have observed over the years that when the parent-teacher communication is good and constant, children tend to feel at ease in their school or kindergarten, and easily build trust. Furthermore, in any kind of crisis situation, this communication flow really pays a dividend!
Another element in the educational continuum is gratitude; an educator who is rewarded by an intact emotional flow with both the children and their parents develops a natural feeling of gratitude.
This is something miraculous to observe, as gratitude is really an expansive feeling, which develops, when constant, into an attitude that embraces the world and others.
Gratitude therefore is stronger than compassion, for it gives freedom to others, while embracing them in a nonjudgmental way that does not create dependency. This is very important in the relationship educator-child; the good educator is able to avoid the bond of complicity slipping into codependence because that is about the worst to happen in tutelary relations, and generally is the soil for abuse.
Besides, the child will of course sense this feeling of gratitude from the side of the educator, while they regularly do not talk about their perception. In this context, it is important to realize that it is dysfunctional to admonish children to be grateful; what this leads to is that the later adolescent will be an ungrateful nerd.
Gratitude cannot be rammed into children; it cannot be forced, it cannot be pushed to unfold. The only thing to do is to be grateful oneself, parent or educator, for children to ‘learn’ being grateful, because they sense how good it feels, and how expansive and wonderful that feeling is. In general, children hardly ever speak about these things, and the wise educator will not push them into verbalizing psychological realities.
It has to be seen that children, because of their natural lack of academic knowledge, easily feel guilty or even inferior when they realize that their knowledge about human psychology is not up to the one the educator has at their disposition. That is why pushing children to ‘learn’ psychological realities is really the wrong approach and only will result in children becoming more and more mute.
Also, children may resent the educator having a ‘police mentality’ that tries to get into their secret corner, to spy out their inner mind, and to know their secret thoughts. Such an attitude must be avoided cost it what it will, or trustbuilding between educator and children will be greatly impaired. In my observation, educators have this problem who have studied several majors, not just early child care, but also child psychology or child psychotherapy, and who, then, in their daily work with children try to ‘unpack’ a part of their knowledge for getting a bonus from the side of the direction of the school or kindergarten.
They may get that bonus, but they get it on the back of the children, who will not be served by such an attitude!
Enthusiasm develops through sharing; it can be sharing in a game, or educational activity, or it can be the activity of sharing as such, without more. Sharing is a wonderful thing to unfold between people, and for children, it’s one of the most important things to learn early in life.
I have observed with children from high-class families most often that their natural ability for sharing was interfered with by their parents. These children are often blocked in their emotions, because their sharing abilities are undeveloped. They are awkward and clumsy in sharing activities, and this because of the hyper-egoistic attitudes they have internalized at home. To be true, the ability to share is one of the greatest gifts we have received as human beings. Sharing brings a direct feedback from the universe, a hot streaming that fills the heart, and that expands the thorax, and the mind.
People stuck in egotism can be pitied because they live only half; they are unhappy and often they have simply not learnt the gift of sharing in childhood; this may not have been their fault. It is not excluded that even the hardest egoist may change one day, after a spontaneous act of sharing, and the unknown feelings they learn through the experience.
I think sharing is a visceral need for humans and when it’s thwarted, psychic pathologies are not far to occur. This may sound idealistic, but I am not talking here about a social ideal but something as natural as breathing and sleeping. We are all egoists through ignorance, and only through ignorance, the ignorance of real joy, which always is connected with sharing!
A wise educator will never talk about virtue, and will not push the child to share, for he knows that this will render the child hypocrite.
The only way to teach sharing is to share, and to do it as a natural movement, spontaneously; then the child will adopt that faculty, through observation.
©2015 Peter Fritz Walter. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.