Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kinesthetic Education

A couple of things caught my eye in the last two days, that made me want to write about this topic today.  One was a billboard at Wynyard station (for St Vincents, I believe) talking about helping children get their self-esteem back (something I think movement and somatic education can help facilitate in some cases; and in a fun way, too); and an article I read about ADHD.

A while back I read Tom Myers 'Kinesthetic dystonia' series of articles (found in the 'Structural Integration' bound booklet of articles) and they had a profound effect on me.  You know when you read something, and it ties together a number of different topics you've been contemplating; describes fully and clearly what you've been observing, but haven't quite put your finger on enough to label it yet, and fires you up with a passion to do something for the world with what you've studied and are interested in. A nice taster: 

"It is this general lack of attention to the kinesthetic sense which has produced what we are calling 'kinesthetic dystonia', an epidemic of unnecessary parasitic muscle tension and structural pain, early degeneration due to dis- or misuse of body parts, alienation from purpose and free emotional expression, and a reliance on what can be seen and heard over what can be felt" Tom Myers, Kinesthetic Dystonia: what bodywork can offer a new physical education  (from Structural Integration, p 13).

This series did just this for me in regards to the need to increase kinesthetic (body awareness) education, broadly and rapidly, across the whole of society - but, of highest importance, in our kids.  (If you haven't read the articles, I highly recommend them to you.  In fact, the Kinesthetic Quotient [KQ] idea, which I also picked up off Tom, is highly influential on how I work and think. )

So much of what I found pointless to learn, back when I was in school, was, in retrospect now - pointless.  I could have easily done without large amounts of the information I was taught, and detested learning at the time.  There seems to be a fair amount of debate on education reform, from what little research I've done  (THIS VIDEO of Ken Robinson has been send to me multiple times - and has a healthy 10 million views!). 

"Every country on earth, at the moment, is reforming public education... The problem is they are trying to meet the future by doing what they did in the past. And on the way they are alienating millions of kids who don't see any purpose in going to school.  People say we should raise standards, and of course we should. The problem is the current system of Education was designed and conceived in a different age- in the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment and in the Economic circumstances of the Industrial revolution." Ken Robinson (from the above linked video). 

This is presicely it - kids should learn stuff that is actually useful to their lives; they should learn things that help for this era; they should learn to use all their faculties (IQ; EQ & KQ). In fact, there should probably be different streams of schooling for people with certain preferences and abilities in these broad categories.   Children should want to go to school - it should be so fun that they want to get up and go.  And for fucks sake get rid of those posture destroying chairs!  There should be benches and cushions and mats, so people can move around as they learn.  Outside classes for at least a third of the day would be something I would like to see, too (if not more time than that. Yes, I know, the kids will get distracted by all the stuff out there. That's the point..learning from nature).

Whilst we have 'PE' (Physical Education), this is mainly just sports based/motor learning stuff, which is great, but it misses the yin aspect; the introspective; the visceroceptive; the propriceptive - learning to feel our inner landscape and become more embodied - allowing us to be comfortable in our being.   

Also, how about learning to deeply relax physically and emotionally via a lying yoga nidra, or similar practice?  We actually used to lay on the ground for a while in kindergarten (I had an amazing teacher first year of school) and relax after lunch, sometimes to music.  I still remember this, though very little else of what we did. 

Having just become a father myself; and being interesting in all things movement, health and KQ - I find it far more rewarding to watch my daughter picking up movement patterns well than being able to speak.  It's actually fun to use gestures and body-language alone to get her to do something.  She gets it too.  There's a definite non-verbal understanding about babies and young kids that is amazing and fun to be around. 

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