©2015 Peter Fritz Walter. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
— Chapter 4 : Individual Child vs. Group
‘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 4 : Individual Child vs. Group
In the hippie communes back in the 1960s and 70s, group life played a major part in the social reorientation of society. The same was the case, and still is today, in Israel with the kibbutzim.
By those who are living in that kind of communes, the commune lifestyle is judged superior to the modern family. However, I suggest to think these solutions through for our present time before blindly adopting them. While the modern nuclear family clearly has pitfalls, those concepts, too, are not ideal, basically because they lack out on essential space for privacy and tend to be ‘open style’ all the time, and that, I find it unbearable for adults and children who are the introvert types, such as myself, and who need a well-defined private space.
It is obvious that the nuclear family structure in most high-tech countries can easily turn out to be a trap for sensitive children because of the danger of parent-child codependence that I commented upon earlier in this book. In addition, children’s lack of exposure to adults other than their parents can lead to anxiety and a claustrophobic attitude that later may manifest as agoraphobia and asocial behavior.
It is known that children from extended family structures in Africa or South America bond and socialize with much more ease than the typical Western child, and this is not because of ethnic or racial differences, but a direct outcome of the structure of the family. I would personally say that till today, an alternative to the extended family has not been found, and communes are not really a viable alternative to it because they tend to be too ‘public’ in their overall attitude, which is fine for extravert children, but not for those who are by their nature shy, withdrawn, dreamy, silent, and introvert.
The good thing about communes is that children are parented not only by their physical parents but, similar to the extended family model, receive care and affection also from other adults within the community, and thus their relations with their parents are less exclusive and fusional and the danger of covert incest is minimized.
Children growing in communes are also found to be more open to new experiences, very little shy or timid, but having a healthy portion of self-confidence and outgoingness, and an equal portion of tolerance.
But as briefly mentioned already, communes also have their disadvantages. In a totally open space, where all is transparent and known to all, how to have your little corner, and keep your little secrets? It seems to me that this is something essential for children to have, and if they don’t have it, they cannot build identity, and their soul becomes what is colloquially called a ‘group soul.’
I have known children, most of the time in Asia, who grow up that way, who never had anything of their own in their homes: they have virtually no identity, and there is nothing original about them. They imitate all they see and find ‘cool’ what most others find ‘cool;’ they are always anxious to comply with what is expected, which results in their being generally fearful and murky, and often dishonest. They tend to hide what they think, always suspicious to lose an advantage; to make it short, they are lacking the basic virtues of free children, which are spontaneity, open-mindedness and freshness.
They are ‘old’ in their overall appearance, and they are very little creative when doing art activities. They seem to have no fantasy realm, and that is not surprising, as they never had an outer space of their own.
It seems that inner space and outer space are mirrored in life; when a child is not granted an outer space of his or her own, they cannot build the essential inner space we need for individuation and for creativity. I also found these children sad, while they tend to smile all the time, but that smile only hides their inner despair and hopeless vision of the future.
Now, regarding communes, what I have seen of it was rather disappointing me when looking for a standard that could viably replace the nuclear family in the future. This is especially true for the kibbutzim in Israel, that I studied a little as I was first enthusiastic about them. But my enthusiasm quickly vanished when I got to hear the details of daily life in a kibbutz, and the philosophy behind this institution. There is virtually no corner for anybody, child or adult, as all space is shared, without exception. And this is deliberately set that way, as a matter of conceptual setup.
From the interviews I got to hear of people who either are parents in various kibbutzim, or run those institutions, I had the impression that they are obsessed by the idea of parent-child incest; in fact it was argued that the main reason for group life is to prevent incest by diverting parents and children from virtually any kind of intimacy other then sitting on the lap and getting a tap on their shoulder and a ‘good word.’ You have to see that! Parents sleep in special dorms and children sleep in special dorms, never together.
And the dorms where the kids sleep are supervised and monitored around the clock by specially trained ‘psychologists’ who hold actually police functions!
Frankly, I was shocked when I got to know the details. And the journalist who did the reportage was asking the most pertinent question, that I myself would have asked. He said: ‘And, what about children’s little corner, where do they store the little stones they find, and the little snails and bugs, and where do they put their handkerchief and their crayons when they come to the dorm?’ The answer was clear and hard. They have to give all and everything to the dorm supervisor who would put the items in numbered lockers.
Not unlike the military, I thought. Can you imagine to inflict that onto your child? Then, the next question:what would happen when a child is sick, if the parents could come and see the child in the dorm? The answer was yes, but never alone, that all their dealings with their child had to be ‘transparent’ and that they could sit next to the child’s bed, but could not take the child to their flat.
The last question was from what age separation between parents and children for the nightly hours was being implemented, and the answer was equally clear and hard. When the child turned three, the regimen had to be adopted that way, was the answer, while before that time, the child was considered a baby and would have to stay with the mother.
I was scandalized by the whole idea, to be true. I think the interviewer, just like myself, skipped the rest of the questions, for there was not one word in the whole reportage about possible intimate relations of the children with each other. I am sure it’s about the greatest sin they can think of. For, if not, why would they tightly supervise the children at night? So is that, then, the progress we are eagerly waiting for, when we think the nuclear family is a trap? My answer is the kibbutz is a bigger trap, then, and I suggest we stay where we are, if we can’t find better alternatives!
Apart from these general observations, all depends on those who run educational institutions, as the late psychiatrist Alexander Lowen wrote me once in a letter. Educational concepts are nice things, and they are sounding always very nice and progressive — and then you look at reality!
Let me report my impression of Montessori schools I visited in three different countries. What they did, frankly, was absurd, a completely distorted wash-down of the revolutionary ideas of the founder of that concept, Maria Montessori. They were rather putting the concept upside-down in their daily running of the school, and how they dealt with the children. What I witnessed was a brutal authoritarian approach of training children intellectually by the use of sophisticated puzzles and other devices, while, in one school, a portable stereo on maximum volume yelled a Beethoven symphony in the hall.
In all three schools, there was as good as no social activity or anything of that the where children would share in something they did together; it was the total ego trip, every child focusing on their monstrous games for intellect boosting, until the pause was belled. Then every child silently took out the lunchbox and eat their little bread, without talking with the child sitting next to him or her, while the educator was shouting at them they shouldn’t forget to go to the toilet, but only ‘one by one, and never together,’ for doing their little business before the pause ends.
It was a horrible experience and for each of these schools I had to get a special permission for visit that took about one week to file out, and that was stamped like an immigration document, and where in capital letters was marked that it was ‘strictly prohibited to talk with the children, take any notes, or do any audio or video recording’ as that would violate the trademark of the Montessori educational system.
I thought I got an admission to visit a secret bunker of the US Air Force, and was sitting in fright through the about 15 minutes of each visit, anxious I could do something wrong and was admonished and thrown out as an intruder.
None of the educators of all three schools addressed speech to me or told me anything about the school or the children, except one apologized for doing so, saying it would be ‘against the privacy rules’ of the Montessori educational system. Frankly, I think these people are simply paranoid and I would never give my child there.
Visits I did in so-called Waldorf Schools, created by the Austrian anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner were different from Montessori in that I realized that there was admittedly no intellectual training inflicted upon the children, but they were as authoritarian and emotion-hostile as the Montessori schools I had previously visited.
©2015 Peter Fritz Walter. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.