An intro to hidden patterns of learning in classroom that lead to reduced mobility through the spine

The classroom

In an earlier post, Feldenkrais and early learning for aging well, there is an introduction to how a baby’s first learning momentum begins somatically through their moving parts.  It is through the felt sense of their bones that they begin to sense solid yet flexible movement from the feedback of solid surfaces.  Only when they actively make a connection to what they are feeling in conjunction with the responsive action, are they able to make individual patterns intentionally.  While movement patterns are growing so are their brain’s neural pathways. This learning system is inside baby and elusive.  It is not usually a conscious understanding in adults and generally not patterned into educational systems. Remember that babies don’t come into the world with a pattern of thinking up strategies and solutions.   That is a culturally learned skill.  Educational models are patterns of solutions and strategies that start in  primary grades.   Perhaps reading this will be cause to pause and consider some new ways to explore increasing balance between babies first system of learning and their ongoing development.

Here is a question to all parents and educators:

 “how flexible are the bones of your learning environments?” 

Flexibility is the foundation for teaching children to dance with resilience.  Without it they lose their balance along the way to their future.  Balance is more than staying upright versus falling down.   I have observed as early as 15 my  students have lost the rotation in their scapula and connection to movement in their pelvis.  Most will move their pelvis by leaning forward and back from head and shoulders.  This is not a good pattern for flexibility or balance for them now or later in life.  One common strategy adults will come up with is guide them to cross crawl.  This is to reach one  hand to their opposite knee while bending their knee and bringing it up to their hand.  This gives them a focus on their hand and knee, not their pelvis.  Unfortunately,  from sitting in chairs for long periods of time it’s the pelvis that needs to be brought back into awareness.

Learn simple patterns to include into a classroom day to support keeping or regaining vital patterns of movement for balance and flexibility.  Start the process of balancing the dumbing down of internal movement behaviour by cultivating awareness.  These can even be done in the chair!

By comparison my suggestions is that the container for education is the skeleton from which all learning values are formed and integrated for future action.

Quote from Moshe Feldenkrais

Flexible body, flexible mind.

Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984)

Beginning with the classroom basics (skeleton) here are three physical attributes to consider.  These shape children’s future behaviours, physically, culturally, perceptually, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  The question is, “Is the skeleton flexible or rigid?” A reminder that a baby would not be upright, walking and talking if their skelton was ridgid.  

Here are some silent or elusive stimulus in a classroom that continue to somatically model patterns of learning for consideration.   For home learning consider the same concepts and transfer them to the home learning environment.

#1.  Physical environment  

The physical environment of the classroom is a hidden pattern of learning.  It will stimulate adults and children alike through its design.  Some classrooms have strong bones that are balanced and ground those within its walls, or weak bones that create anxiety.  There will also be participants and with their own unique responses to the design like those who have a tendency to be left brain learners.  They will be comfortable in a highly structured environment while those who are right brain dominant will do better with soft edges.  Why is this important?  Right and left brain reactive behaviours of flight, fight or freeze.

    • Skeleton of the classroom:

Obvious and stays the same day to day

      • structure
        • walls, ceiling, floors, carpet, stairs, hallways, doors, windows
      • furniture
        • chairs, desks, benches, equipment

Elusive and  fluid

      • heat

The need for rounding the edges in design to increase spinal rotation in the classroom



    • Decor or theme of the classroom:

The colour of the walls and furniture will mostly likely stay the same for the full year.  It is what is posted on the walls, boards, furniture and equipment that will be changeable throughout the school year.  The decorations are an added element influencing learning and reactions.  They can be inspiring, motivational or disruptive.

Obvious and stays the same day to day 

      • colour

Obvious and fluid

      • decorations



Decor can be rich and inspire or boring and draining

    • Sounds in the classroom

Obvious and changes moment to moment 

      • bells, other classes nearby, noise in halls


Noise can be a distraction.  Bells are designed to interrupt to change the flow of attention.  Voice announcement are designed to get ones focus of attention.  Other noises from voices and sounds in other rooms or hallway aren’t designed to refocus attention however they do.

Sound can be calming and comforting, or startling and disconnecting


    • Air in the classroom:

Elusive and obvious, and changes moment to moment 

      • odours
      • quality (stale or fresh)


The quality of air in the classroom is an element that can be a distraction, a mood stimulator and can be healthy or unhealthy.

Smells can be soothing or unsettling


#2.  Cultural environment (classroom)

    • Skeleton of the classroom:

Another part of the classroom foundation is the social interaction model.  This would include the spoken word, listening skills and expectations.  It includes the interaction between students and teachers, parents and teachers, and students with peers.  The spoken word makes up only 3 percent of what’s being communicated.  The remaining 97 percent is the tone, facial expression and body language.  The younger the student entering the institution, the more they will be receiving through their senses.  Another silent learning pattern that influences a child for life.  A child will not be taught consciously how to process what they are perceiving and they will be left to their own devices to interpret.  This creates filters of interpretation starting at a 5 year olds level that can remain a habit unless purposely trained.  Imagine being 80 years old and still interpreting interaction from a strategy developed at 5 years old.

Elusive and fluid

      • relationships



Elusive and Obvious

      • expectations of relationships
      • goals and intentions of relationships


#3.  Philosophical environment  (classroom)

    • Skeleton of the classroom:

This part of the classroom foundation includes the schools mission statement and curriculum for learning, the Ministry guidelines and the individual teachers and teachers aid curriculums.  The purpose and intention will be an obvious structure.  The individual cultural beliefs will be elusive.  Cultural beliefs will be habits created through individual and unique early childhood learning.   This is an important point for being in agreement and on the same page with other adults in the classroom as children will sense any reaction shared between adults.  The silent expressions will be obvious to them.  Imagine the patterns they are learning.

Elusive and obvious, and fluid

      • curriculum
      • goals and intentions of educational curriculum expectations
      • goals and intentions of both school and classroom
      • individual students perspective from home life


If learning from home – translate into homes space & expectations


Back to Feldenkrais and early learning for aging well

The only way to change is action

Explore Next learning steps

by Renee Lindstrom

Effective Movement Posture with Feldenkrais integrating Awareness through Communication and Awareness through Space

Mentoring Programs Available:

 1st Level – Getting Started (Introduction & Pattern)
 2nd Level – Getting Intouch (Experiencing & Connection)
 3rd Level – Integration (Embodiment)

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by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP @ Inside Awareness,  Living in Natures Love Blog
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Copyright 2014 – 2021 Renee Lindstrom, GCFP

Feldenkrais®, Feldenkrais Method®, Awareness Through Movement®, Functional Integration®, are registered service marks of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America. Feldenkrais Method®

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