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Questions & Answers
Question: Can you give me an example of how you might adapt your curriculum to meet a child’s needs?
Answer: (N.M -Body and Early Feeling Years)
In classes changes are made almost daily in what and how academic lessons are taught based on the children’s receptivity, their energy, and their grasp of the lessons.
Today there was a fair amount of restless energy in class. We had just finished reading, which was a very focused, quiet time. I knew that the children needed to move, so I changed my plan for how we would practice spelling from an inside activity, to one that took place outside and involved running.
In math, during our opening review of what was taught last week, the children clearly demonstrated that they had a strong grasp of the task. With that observation, I skipped over the lesson that I had planned for the day, and moved on to a lesson I had intended to teach later in the week that added a new element to the skill that we were working on.
A week ago we finished a major unit of study about the moon. The children were deeply engaged with that area of study. Since that time, a number of them have brought in books about space that they joyfully shared with us. I have never taught outer space to first graders before but it is abundantly clear that there is great enthusiasm for it. Because of the children’s eagerness, I will change the science unit that I was going to begin, from simple machines, to outer space.
A student struggled to focus and finish his work so we set up a desk in the backroom for him to work. And our class cheers for him to try to encourage him!
The kids were getting bored of math worksheets (struggling to complete them, to focus or to show progress in understanding or deep thinking) which I had been using so that I could work with each grade separately on alternating days. Instead we have been doing more whole group math lessons involving problem solving, partner/small group and whole class discussion and talking more about different ways to arrive at answers in addition to incorporating more movement. We’ve also started a multiplication unit that involves looking at a number and number patterns in a variety of ways and encourages multiple answers and ways of seeing.
I have been having one student take more frequent “breaks” in the hammock when I notice he is overwhelmed or struggling to listen/focus.
I have had an aide working with one student one-on-one during reading time to help the student strengthen their fluency when reading (he tends to sound out every word). But he is still struggling to really get into a book and enjoy it so I may have them switch back to just reading for fun and trying to find ways to connect with and enjoy the story rather than having reading be merely decoding, as it seems to be for this student right now.
Question: I would like to define the concept of “consciousness”. We often say “low consciousness”, “high consciousness”, “narrow consciousness”. For me, generally speaking, this is a system of perception and interaction with the world, which has several components. But I would like a precise definition. I was asked this question by one person and I think that such a question may arise from others. Perhaps our teachers gave a precise definition in the language of yoga.
Answer: (N.D.) Consciousness is the very essence of who we are. This is the awareness with which we experience everything and everyone. In its purest and highest form, it can be called cosmic consciousness; the state that is aware of everything. Most of us exist in a much less elevated state and experience life through various ego filters (pride, prejudice, distortion, limitation, etc.). It is our job as teachers to help our students expand and deepen their consciousness as much as possible.
Question: When we motivate a child who is in a contractive ego-active state with something material, is there a danger that he will take this as the norm, i.e. “I will only do something for a fee. If there is no reward, then I don’t want to do anything at all.” This understanding could remain for a long time. Sometimes parents motivate the child to study well by paying him money for it. I always have a fear that this child will never understand the very meaning of studying.
Answer: (N.D.) When a child is stuck in a contractive consciousness, we use external rewards as an incentive for the child to experience behaviors that he would otherwise avoid. At first, his only reason to cooperate is to receive the award. However, if what we are asking is in fact a higher-order behavior, then the child will gradually begin to realize that this new behavior is inherently more enjoyable than previous actions. For example, kindness brings more internal rewards than selfishness. It may take a while, but over time the child will develop the ability to experience this for himself. However, if this higher aspect is missing in the behavior we are focussing on, the child will never grow beyond the need for the external reward. This may be the case when you pay money to get good grades.
Question: What is the probability of a child’s transition from the lowest state of consciousness to the highest? Is it impossible in one life? Please share your experience of the likelihood of student transformation.
Answer: (N.D.) The easier part of this answer is that children (and adults) move from one level to the next without skipping steps. The harder part is that some people are more trapped in a lower consciousness than others. It depends on previous life experience. Some children can climb the ladder of consciousness quite quickly if they are shown love and appreciation. Others may take many years to show even a small improvement.