Creative-C Learning: The Innovative Kindergarten
©2015 Peter Fritz Walter. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
— Chapter 9 : An Integral Approach to Education
‘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 9 : An Integral Approach to Education
The Child‘s Individual Integrity
Any school that wishes to serve both children and their parents needs to see and recognize the existence of individual, and individually gifted, children. While for mass education, there is a quantity of humans to be educated, Creative-C Learning Center is a pre-school for unique individuals.
To serve the individual child we need to safeguard the child’s natural sensitivity and focus upon the individual talents that this child manifests and desires to develop.
Education should go beyond the teaching of skills as any kind of skill is embedded in something larger that we may call a personal gift or talent. Hence, teaching skills is of minor importance compared to the awakening of the intrinsic individual talents of the child. With this perspective, the goal of education is not to merely find a good job and making a living, while this is well the case for most educational institutions today.
The short-sightedness of educating humans for ‘fitting in’ a scheme of existing jobs is that tomorrow this scheme is different, and after-tomorrow it once again changes!
This is today more true than ever before in human history and a reasonable curriculum therefore can only be built upon the talents inherent in each and every child.
In fact, even in highly expensive private schools, the individual child is often degraded into becoming a career-hawk because the curriculum makes no attempt at developing the soul qualities of the child, while being outright focused on left-brain or yang qualities and the almost total neglect of right-brain or yin qualities.
When we bring yin and yang out of balance, associated systemic and ecological thinking is mutilated and so-called rational, logical, strategic thinking is hypertrophied and wins the overhand.
To look at every individual child is only possible when, from the start, we have a qualitative and not a quantitative approach to education. The quality approach does not ask for efficiency, but for integrated solutions that serve every child in the community. A natural part of wholeness is holistic and systemic thinking. It can only be brought about on the basis of the integrity of the child.
Intelligence, sensitivity and understanding of the complex functions of life can only be developed if cognition is imbedded in the emotional life of the person and thus the result of wholeness, and not of fragmentation.
Intellectual capacities and skills that have no connection with the emotional life of the person and that are disconnected from the right brain hemisphere as well as the heart are truly dangerous. Only sensitivity can act counter to cruelty, not the cultivation of thought systems, ideals or religions.
Cognitive capacities that are imbedded in emotional sanity can only grow on a basis of readiness, of maturity. A child will voluntarily accept instruction in reading and writing once s/he is emotionally ready for it and not under any other circumstance. And here we speak about the individual maturity of a child, not a standard concept, since there simply are no standards.
Education must logically proceed in a one-to-one relation and interaction between educator and child, for only within such an affectional relationships the uniqueness of the child can be validated. The emotional and affectional bond in this relation is of overwhelming importance. Only love can be the bridge for the transmission of values.
The Child’s Emotional Integrity
Modern education should restrain from training the child only intellectually. A human being, whatever age, is always composed of both intellect and emotion, and what education should do is assisting the child in maintaining a healthy balance between them. It makes little sense to train children to be able to achieve doing every kind of puzzle or to have them educated in brilliant small-talk while the price we pay for such dressage is that children become hyperactive, emotionally unbalanced, and schizoid.
In addition, education does not mean to clone children into molds of their parents but to allow them to become autonomous persons with their own talents and their own unique intelligence. In addition, to make tin soldiers our of children regularly disregards the true needs of the child and triggers guilt and fear early in life which in turn builds up a barrier to self-knowledge. Intelligence is nourished by observing one’s emotional processes as well as one’s actions on a regular basis.
To mold children into the ideological positions of their parents hinders the birth of their true intelligence. Education based upon ideologies fosters absolute, rigid positions, stubbornness, conformity, imitation and, in last resort, violence.
In order to grasp an idea of the emotional life of the child, we need to understand what is intelligence. Most people confuse intelligence with knowledge and intellectualism without seeing that the accumulation of knowledge is mechanical and not a sign of intelligence.
Intelligence is something entirely different from knowledge. It is not mechanical, but a dynamic process of understanding our surrounding world and ourselves in this world. Our task in the education of small children thus is to safeguard this natural intelligence and this wholeness of the child, and to prevent fragmentation as much as this is possible today in a highly fragmented society.
Our rational mind (left brain hemisphere) only functions at full capacity when it is connected to our irrational mind (right brain hemisphere) so that intellectual/analytic and intuitive/synthetic thought processes become complementary. Then, regularly, the rational and the emotional part of us are in a state of functional unity and this in turn brings about inner peace.
This is achieved through validating the child’s right-brain capacities and through helping the child expressing their emotions, through spontaneous dance, painting and music, and later through creative writing.
The Child’s Social Integrity
Within the group, children learn social behavior without being directed into standard behavior patterns. We have to avoid modeling children as partakers of a game of ruthless competition as it is unfortunately done in many schools.
When stress is too high, it may help some children to achieve higher, but it will also push some other children into retardation. What the stress of competition within the group will thus do is to divide the group into several entities, a small circle of high achievers who will ‘lead’ the group, a larger part of rather mediocre achievers that almost automatically then take the role of the ‘followers,’ and the marginal group of those who are pushed into revolt and defeat — regularly to be seen standing in the corner, crying often and developing rather asocial behavior patterns.
In order to avoid this mistake that I have seen to be rampant in many pre-schools around the world, we have to develop group activities that are peaceful and that do not trigger emotional stress. This means first of all that the teachers themselves are as stress-free and relaxed as possible and that the relations teacher-children are as harmonious as possible.
In general, children should not be segregated into different age groups, but play together while the older ones naturally take care of the younger ones. The ideal balance is a small group setting where children can work together in creative units and individually still receive the nurturing attention of educators who have the time and the desire to lift each child to his or her full potential.
The group then becomes not a rank and file arrangement, designed to pigeonhole each child, but an interactive environment in which the child can discover his or her individuality whilst still developing crucial social skills.
The Child’s Creative Integrity
An integral approach to education consists of activities that stimulate the child in various ways, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Activities are always in conjunction with affectivity, and embedded in the unique affectional relation between teacher and child. There are basically five different kinds of activities:
— 1/ — Visual activities
Visual activities are those where children express themselves through painting and drawing as well as through maquillage and mask-building, spontaneous theater play, photography or video-production.
— 2/ — Auditory activities;
Auditory activities are those that center upon musical expression, instrument play, the creation and experience of sound carpets, relationships between colors and sounds and sound healing.
— 3/ — Physical/sensory activities
Physical and sensory activities are those that focus upon the body, spontaneous dance, rhythmical self-expression, affective touch and tactile communication, massage and water-related activities. As a matter of fact, the child’s psychosomatic health greatly increases with abundant tactile stimulation. For toddlers, water and movement are natural stimulatory means that associate their prenatal environment.
— 4/ — Literary-poetic activities
Literary-poetic activities reintegrate poetry and literary imagination into the educational relation, for example through fairy tales and the spontaneous drafting of theatre plays.
— 5/ — Mental-analytical activities
Mental and analytical activities, while they are clearly over-stressed in most contemporary educational settings, need not be thrown out entirely. Many children enjoy this kind of activities and they can be introduced in many ways. For example, the Apple Mac OS X computer system, and the Mac iOS mobile device system (iPad) are quite ideal for teaching logical and analytic as well as intuitive thinking, because the computer serves a practical purpose at the same time as it teaches logical and analytic thinking. It has become a technical tool of an importance such that it can’t be unthought, and it would for this reason border neglect to not teach children how to handle it properly and for the best of the child’s individual capacities.
It is essential for an effective curriculum to insure a highly creative work environment for teachers, and the setup of an organizational culture that favors the building of respect for diversity.
Experts in employee relations found that best effectiveness as well as optimized client satisfaction is the result of proactive and loyal staff relations that emphasize open dialogue, empathic exchanges and a sufficient level of empowerment for every worker to unfold a maximized level of creativeness in doing his or her job.
In the school setting, that means there must be a high level of effective communication between educators and parents for the best of each child enrolled in the school. This implies ongoing training for workers on a daily basis and with a sufficient amount of introduction time so as to being sure they will fully implement the creative curriculum presented in this book.
A Value-Based Curriculum
Experts developed the values that are essential for parents in the situation of seeing themselves unable to provide the necessary care of their children, for various professional and career reasons.
I have pondered long about these values and needs and found that communication with parents is a major issue in taking care responsibly of their children. It is for this purpose that I find it of high importance to maintain a constant and fruitful dialogue with the parents to ensure the following values:
— Continuity and non-friction in providing for each child an education that is from the start in accordance with the deepest-felt values of their parents;
— Openness and transparence in the daily running of the school for parents being empowered to have a direct impact upon the education of their child through a system of proactive communication. This communication structure enables parents to make suggestions and provide special information about their child at any moment they wish to;
— Regular parent meetings that are opportunities for them to learn more about professional childcare as well as for educators to know more about problems and concerns parents may have as to the education of their children or their family situation; this enables both parents and teachers to tackle issues that, while they may not be obvious from the start, can help better understand each individual child and his or her special needs;
— Ad-hoc meetings on parents’ demand that address a particular issue important for them and their child, illnesses of their child that might have psychosomatic reasons, allergies, or special diet concerns for the food provided in the school, or any other issues of this kind.
Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), one of the major child psychologists, has found that a child’s education and upbringing is basically finished when the child completes his or her sixth year of life. This astonishing insight means that pre-school is actually more important than primary school in the formation of the basic intelligence, talents, and emotional integrity of the child.
This insight leads to understanding the importance of every day of happiness and emotional nutrition that the nursery and pre-school setting provides in the life of small children, so as to properly prepare them for the tougher courses of later primary and even high school and university.
Here is an overview over the basic educational goals that any progressive child care paradigm should achieve:
— Being a facilitator for high talent and gift so as to ensure that the human potential in whichever form it manifests, is respected, recognized, promoted and developed into its full realization, and this without regard to social status, religious, ideological or political orientation and free of any discrimination by race, gender, caste or heritage;
— Building a spirit of self-activation, responsiveness, flexibility, synergy and active participation;
— Educating towards effectiveness, using networking with others as a primary tool to achieve visible results;
— Helping to surpass the ego by creating a spirit of sharing and contribution and a feeling and enthusiasm for synergistic solutions;
— Educating towards a positive mindset that is based upon the truth of unlimited substance;
— Helping in a non-discriminatory manner those who, by their giftedness and motivation imperatively need support, help, care or sponsorship for developing their talents;
— Helping build a generation of people who know to effectively use their resources while respecting and helping build the resources of others so that a resourceful community can be eventually created.
This curriculum is based upon an integral worldview which sharply opposes the current fragmented worldview. This creative worldview considers problems and solutions as one interconnected field. Accordingly the answers to current problems are systemic and holistic, so far not to be found on any of the reigning educational agendas.
To give a simple example. You cannot bring a definite solution to our environmental problems, global warming, without changing the curricula of our schools.
It is not through a global tax or stricter laws that we achieve people to behave in an ecologically literate manner, but only through educating children early in life to respect the environment. Hence, many of our global problems today boil down to the need to improving education and thus raising educational budgets.
The systems approach teaches us that pretty much all on the human agenda is a direct function of our educational wisdom, the wisdom to bring up our children responsibly. It is for this reason that many social scientists consider the 21st century as a key turning point in human development and the blossom of the ‘learning society.’
I have thought through about every possible problem in human society today, from child-rearing to crime statistics, from youth suicide to health reform, from new science to the understanding of the economy. And I saw that all, really all, is a direct function of the way we have been educated and conditioned to deal with life, on both the individual and the transpersonal levels!
©2015 Peter Fritz Walter. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.