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Friday, December 31, 2010

Neues Spiel, Neues Glueck, Neues Jahr. (New Game, New Luck, New Year)

On the eve of a new year it’s usually time to look back on the experience of the past year and looking forward to new endeavors in the next.

New years resolutions have become a tradition in my life, mostly the usual suspects (better diet, better exercise regime, better me). This year on the eve of the beginning of a new year with my new business, it’s more then appropriate to look at where I want to go next with my business. I had the last couple of days of holidays with my friends and family in Winnipeg, time to think where I want to go next. Those are the things my brain has come up with:

• Get website more easier found on google and increase website traffic.
• Make contac with child development centers and rehabilitation places in the greater Vancouver area (Hajni is right you cannot work hiding away, at the same time I’m not expecting too much of it. But you never know, you might find some think- alike people)
• Look into starting a preschool group (definitely a dream of mine)
• Work further on collaborative projects. You know we just have to do it.
• Set up different children and adults groups.
• Increase my knowledge and practice.

There are some things to look forward to, and others not so much. One of those will be Andrew Suttons retirement form the blogsphere. There are a few people who don’t believe it will actually happen. I fear it will. I do wonder if there will be someone else to step up their game? Anyway, good luck Andrew.

And a happy New Year to all.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A place for transformation

No, I have not forgot about blogging. In fact, I have started to write three different blogs and hope to finish them eventually. All as I think from great importance but it will have to wait.

Today, I received a late Christmas gift. A book I really wanted and my yoga teacher recommended to me. I already read another book by the same author and absolutely loved it. This book is called: ”Yoga and the quest for the true self” by Stephen Cope, a yogi and psychologist. I know the title sounds kinda esoteric and out there but just like yoga it really isn’t. It makes – at least to me- a lot of sense.

As so often passages in this book sound so conductive. But so far have not necessary been documented (lets hope that changes eventually).

Anyway, in the first book Stephen Cope writes about his experience of being introduced to his deep experience with yoga and how he has been told that transformation can and possible will happen through the yoga practice.

Transformation – a word that lets me recognize ideologies that are on the same wave length with Conductive Education. Andrew Sutton taught us about transformative pedagogies including CE, mediated learning, Makarenko, Montessori, etc. I guess that’s where I have it from.

Furthermore, the next lines I read just smelled of CE in the sweetest way.

There he talks about transformative spaces – places that can provide transformation.

“Effective transformational spaces create the conditions for our growth and make growth all but inevitable. Once we find them and commit to them, transformation is pretty much a “done deal”. But here is the rub. Many environments proclaim themselves to be transformative spaces. But many of these fail to provide the real conditions needed for maturation.” (Cope ,1999 p27)

He goes on and gives nine conditions to aid identification of truly transformative places. Conductive Education looks different in different countries and centers, institutions and homes, however I think fulfilling the following categories is the ultimate test of figuring out if a CE place is really conductive or just appears to be.

1. They create quality of refuge.
He means places where oneself is been put in charge of ones learning. Without that person taking actively part in learning it’s useless. It’s a place where you are safe to be yourself and safe to be able to transform. With young children the process in CE is a bit different as we still teach them certain standards (impose standards of our society) but only so they are able and open to learning and one day can be in charge of their learning.

2.They create safety through constancy in relationship.
This refers to the relationship with one steady mentor/teacher/conductor. The teacher provides emotional support so the student feels save to share their deepest experience and learn. We have been taught that without the client feeling safe (may that be emotional or physical), no learning can take place.

3. They encourage creativity and experimentation. In other words provide conditions so the client can achieve an orthofunctional personality. In most cases a lot of different skills have to be learned before the individual is ready to do this. But in all cases opportunities for being creative and experiment with ones abilities need to be created.

4. They are organized around “transitional objects” that are constant and reliable.

I think in CE this can be a lot of things. Especially CE specific teaching tools like the tasks series, daily routine, rhythmical intention and facilitation (equipment includes) are objects that provide consistency and are reliable. It is meant for being a bridge/tool to bring the individual to the next level of learning, but abolish itself as soon as this next level has been achieved. The consistency of it will give comfort and encouragement to move to the unknown.

5. They do not deify these transitional objects, or themselves. As conductors, we are human and that’s what we should be when we are with our clients. A true transformative space aims to make objects/conductive tools as well as the help of the conductor themselves, one day unnecessary.

6. They provide us with a way of finding out who we are.
Giving support to the individuals lifestyle choices, even if we would not choose this or it’s non-conductive. Again, I think with children this is a different story as we are trying to give them all the skills so they have the tools as adults to be as independent as possible.

7. They do not have to be perfect.
Life is not perfect neither should be every program. We have been told during our training, that we should check if things are running too smoothly if we really create learning opportunities (and opportunities for errors) or if we are just floating by on auto-pilot.

8.They are open to, and support, other path to development.
We as conductors, should be open to learn new ideas, principles and seek understanding to where other professionals come from, as we want others to be open minded enough to do the same.

In my opinion we have a lot to learn a lot from yoga. This text has giving me for sure a great inside into may own practice of trying to create a transformative environment for my clients.

Further, the way the ancient yoga texts developed was through collecting experiences. It still develops and adjusts to live, especially in the Western Civilizations, but its there and starts to be more general accepted without seeking to be.

Btw, Viktoria I think this might be the eight steps to distinguish between snake-oil therapies/treatments and real learning opportunities.


Cope, Stephen (1999) Yoga and the quest of the true self. New York Bantan Books

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Education for all

I work on weekly basis with one of my children clients at home. We work on all kinds of aims to holistically improve her level of skills and strengthen her personality. We also work on the family and how their behavior and expectation influences her learning. So far I think we have made some good progress with that and she just flourishes in her development and we all noticed that already she is like a different child, more active and in control of her life.

Her sister is a music teacher and started lately to give singing lessons to a girl that attends their church. Her family is good friends with my client’s family and lately the mother, sister and father have decided to stick around and observe us working.

In all honesty, at the beginning this was not an ideally work situation as my MsLiz(for the purpose of writing this blog , I will call her that) got easier distracted didn’t get motivated by their presence and worse shut down completely. We, as conductors, have been taught to use spontaneous situations to our advantage and what kind of a conductor would I be trying to let this opportunity pass without teaching someone something???

We have been working on increasing her motivation to move//walk and with and without equipment. We choose purposefully activities and toys, we knew would motivate her to move. Especially in the beginning we could observe an obvious desire to play with those toys, however there was no active participation to get to those toys. She was very much used to the fact, that if she didn’t do something for long enough, someone else will. We have been working on changing her attitude for a while and even let her miss out on activities, while reinforcing that she needs to TRY moving before she could receive some help. This expectation was build onto the observation, that she can walk, initiate to roll, crawl, etc. when highly motivated. We achieved pretty quickly her initiation to roll or crawl but not necessary to walk.

When the other family turned up the first time we were pretty much working on getting her to initiate stepping. Needless to say she didn’t do anything, except of saying no. The other family looked like they didn’t believe that MsLiz could do the things we expected her to do. In fact, she was all slumped together and refused to do anything and with that confirming what the other family thought already. We finished up the activity which took a lot of time and with only little initiation. I explained that this is quite common for children to not do what other people want from that. The other family agreed (as they have the same problem with their girls)but obviously did not believe that this really applied to MsLiz. After a while the little girl of the visiting family showed MsLiz her bracelets and her mom suggested that my girlie can showed hers. It was like a switch was flicked and my MsLiz loudly agreed that she wants to show her. Her mother went upstairs to crab it and I tried to explain to the other family that we try to increase the motivation of MsLiz to move and that past negative experience of trying to move but failing, stops her from trying.

When MsLizs mother returned I caught her eye and indicated to put jewelry box on the table a couple of meters away. All I was asking her if she wanted to show her the jewelry and of my little MsLiz run. This was priceless and the expression on the other family’s faces confirmed that.

Last week the other family returned and it was interesting to see them changed already; waiting for my MsLiz for doing some movements and pointing to each other out what she can do. That day my MsLiz was running all over the house to chase the little girl and even up and down the stairs. We were planning on practicing open and closing her hands and doing some preparation tasks for that. But I decided to change the plan and just play a game with the little girl, which also worked on that. And MsLiz did awesome. And more the little girl learned to give my MsLiz a bit more time. The other family was watching carefully and now started to see the girl my MsLiz can be, funny, active, joyful, loud and excited. Everyone still has to learn a lot from each other but I think at least they started to think that there was something to learn about.