Writings

Dhammalogue no. 12


Today we will discuss teaching children.
Dhammalogue no. 12
Jenny: Today we have the yearly spring school bazaar, my contribution is a couscous salad and a chocolate cake to sell and you are going to do games for the kids. I think I would rather do 15 hrs of hard labour in a building site than do what you are going to today, but you actually like it and are brilliant at handling them, what's your secret?

Igor: What do you mean, dealing with kids?

J: Deal with them I can, in my own lefthanded way, but to engage, organize to some extent control their wild unbridled nature while at the same time having fun...

I: Well, i never grew up really. I accept, sometimes even enjoy, my responsbilities as an adult but I have a hard time playing the different roles that we are made to believe we have to play. The father, the yoga teacher, the friend, the citizen and so on. A kid is a kid is a kid. He might be having a good or a bad day but until he reaches a certain age he is always himself, open. Last week in Amsterdam i shaved my beard. When i got to school the other day, the kids looked at me suspiciously and protested 'you cut your beard, you look weird now! I'll need some time to get used to it'. Dry, unsweetened. I can see how some people can find this a bit harsh but for me it's a relief actually, this direct unfiltered way of communication it's very honest, painfully honest sometimes but you don't need to guess what people are thinking and feeling all the time. It makes me feel at home, because that's kind of the way I'm made. You might like me or you might not, but you will always know if I'm sad or worried, or subdued, or all over the place, because i don't really know how to hide this things and as I age I'm trying less and less to do so. So when I am with them, I try not to treat them as an 'adult-talking-to-children' but as me, a weird manchild that wears pink socks and some times makes a lot of sense and some times is just a silly willy. Like that we can have horizontal relationships, between the child I was/am and the children they are, sometimes, and some other times from the adult I am to the adults they are about to become. I think they appreciate that and I certanily appreciate their genorsity of trust and their love for life so all in all we enjoy eachother's company.

J: Well that you are, a pink socked silly willy. In many ways I am also very childish, just ask my parents...my ideas around responsibility do not necessary fit the norm. I think I am more floating in the perpetual teenager state, with them I connect very well and to their troubles I can relate, but since I always viewed children with a certain suspicion due to my experience of them as a little child, I didn't have any resource to heal that gap until I met you and started seeing them through your eyes. And when we had Iomi, that last piece of the puzzle fell into place since I for the first time recognized my strong maternal instinct. So in my dealings with children my only resource is love and maternal instinct but have no clue how to organize their chaos, am just learning how to deal with my own...

I: Well, it's not easy. This sports classes leave me sometimes very tired. Sometimes it's really tricky to organize chaos, but I prefer to appeal to their common sense than to the exercise of authority. If they take too long chatting or complainining about eachother, or about the game we are playing, then there is less time for playing, so I explain them that. I also explain them why we do what we do, why it's important that they don't give up when things are hard. I explain them that I am the responsible to lead and coordinate the activities so some decisions need to be taken just by me in order for everything to flow smoothly but then when I can I let them organize themselves and take their decisions also. One of our students in Brussels, Berndt, a very inspiring man, is depeloping a mindfulness management system in the Europen Union department that he runs, where employees, working in groups, take their own decisions and enjoy a great degree of autonomy. On Friday I told the kids about it and then I organized them in groups and let them design the class by themselves, some did the warm up, some the cardio, some the games and some the streching and relaxing at the end. It was really fun. There are very few things more rewarding than seeing a child discovering she can do something she didn't know she could, I feel like I am literally witnessing the expansion of consciousness. I love it.

J: Well I know that all the kids really appreciate your treating them as equals and your patience, and being your student myself, I am your biggest fan! You are such a great teacher.

I: Thank you dear

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