In these two classrooms pictured you will notice how each design focuses one’s attention in a specific way. In the primary classroom the walls are colourful and lined with learning materials. There is open floor space to wander physically and mentally. The picture of a later grade demonstrates more confinement through its structure. Presumably this is to reflect focus on mental tasks replacing the stimulation in early grades. This is a visual of a subtle learning model designed to shift direction in a students focus of attention. What is not evident to most parents and educators is how streamlining children’s attention creates a new model of behaviour that I refer to in Feldenkrais and early learning for aging well.
In the primary grades the design model identifies with the inner learning system of a baby and small child. Observing this design one can imagine learning is through activities. In the second picture it seems the design is for focusing the mind to solve puzzles using specific formulas for each subject. These formulas are introduced in early years as the foundation for expanding upon through all level of education. Consider how printing letters becomes stories, followed by writing letters that segway into language arts and so on. This learning model of repetitive patterning to form an integrative experience is similar in both the mental gym learning model and baby’ inner learning model. The difference between the two can be compared to a labyrinth and a maze as pictured here.
Babies are born with an inner learning system that is universal to all babies. It is like walking a labyrinth to the center and out again. The labyrinth pattern can be described as the elusive pattern for inner learning and the experience of moving inward and outward is the skill development.
The maze is a pattern of learning that engages critical thinking skills. It has constraints blocking the way that one must solve as riddles to advance forward. It is designed to go in one direction.
The labyrinth is open to possibilities developing flexibility and resilience while the maze is one way forward developing rules, right and wrong ways and hierarchy. Both these systems add value to a meaningful life. However I am suggesting that there are ways to tweek man made education systems by cultivating awareness of the gaps in it and reducing some of the consequences.
Early inner learning patterns of a newborn cannot be tweaked and my personal belief is that this first learning systems is perfect. Why? How else would babies integrate the inner skills in order to come into an upright posture and learn to think, speak and contribute to family life?
Classroom influences that reduce rotational mobility
As a Feldenkrais Practitioner I see a range of people of different ages and capabilities who are seeking to increase the range of motion in their movement functions. The focus of a Feldenkrais session is to tap into the current patterns of movement and to investigate any potential of expanding it. Attention is on the movement itself versus giving it labels or diagnosing it. The primary goal is to become present to the felt experience and then integrating a new pattern of available movement. Not memorization. The actual somatic learning experience is inside the function with no limitations of philosophical self-image. The self-image development through ones first phase of development is the felt sense image. This has a connection to the support through the body as a response to the ground. Later on self-image on outside worldly feedback comes into focus.
An example for understanding this suggestion of philosophy and self image is the philosophy and practice of yoga. Yoga is an Eastern Indian spiritual philosophy comparable to Buddhism. The movement of Yoga focuses on poses with names not associated with the body. Dog and cat poses reflects a movement seen in dogs and cats and then mimicked for a wonderful stretch. I have had students who adopt yoga as a lifestyle that includes adopting a new identity. This is through clothing, community and how they wish to seen by others through behaviours or appearances. Rather than natural random pictures in their social media posts I have observed posed yoga themes whether out for coffee or at the beach. The standing tree pose seems to be the most popular. This is where one is standing on one leg with the other leg bent so that foot can rest on the inside of the standing leg. Sometimes awkwardly as the body is not a tree!
Language and images can shift natural inner development and create an alternate way forward deepening the divide between inner body awareness and external self imaging.
The focus of Feldenkrais isn’t on posing and stretching. The focus is on the felt sense of anatomy, specifically the skeletal micro-movements. As a Feldenkrais Practitioner I view the whole skeleton from skull to toes as the core of one’s strength and flexibility. The skeleton is the foundation to intentional movement for each of us in our own movement patterns motivating us to roll, sit, stand, walk and run. A baby spends its first months developing a felt sense of their own skeletons anatomy which I observed as a gap in the adult experience. Feldenkrais can take an adult into an exploration of the skeletons anatomy using felt senses to fill in some of the gaps.
Over time the experience of working with differing ages of students has led to my belief that everyone is learning from the same hidden or elusive patterns Ones being modelled in their surroundings at early ages and for extended periods of time. Some patterns being integrated create constraints that later on lead to reduced function. This influences false narratives of conditions in later years. I have observed how change can happen when stuck artificial patterns are brought into obvious awareness. Once recognized there is choice and their hidden consequences can be easily balanced. Through this cultivated awareness some early tangible and elusive learning patterns can be replicated to successfully create new patterns for aging well.
An aspect of somatic learning in babies is the choices moment to moment. As newborns lose their shiny newness they are molded into the communities lifestyle that limits choices by its very nature.
On the classroom influences that reduce rotational mobility
The only way to change is action
Feldenkrais in the Classroom integrating Awareness through Communication & Awareness through Space
1st Level – Getting Started (Introduction & Pattern)
2nd Level – Getting Intouch (Experiencing & Connection)
3rd Level – Integration (Embodiment)