EDUCATING FROM THE HEART
When I think about educating and what it means, I ask myself how can I help that human being unfold all aspects of themselves in an integrated way. I am convinced that if we wish to help learners (which we all are) to continue the motivation, the love of learning that they are born with, we need to engage head, heart and hands.
Education essentially is about providing an environment that enables human beings to unfold in every way. Today, the trend is to primarily address the head with intellectual activities and possibly the body through sports and Physical education. The heart and hands are neglected and yet this is where we find our centres, our locus of motivation and our love and joy for learning.
What this means is to offer physical activities, skills development for the “hands”, music, painting, clay modelling, singing, spoken poetry to develop the area of the heart or emotional intelligence, and imagination, storytelling, creative thinking, philosophy, debating, discussing, clear logical thinking for the development of the head. These three areas of Head, Heart and Hands awaken at different times in human development and the art of education is dependent on us, as educators, in being able to recognise and support children when each of these phases are happening.
Broadly speaking, we develop from below upwards: For example, young children develop through movement, imitating the actions of others and have such a very powerful will to become human, that they learn to walk, speak and think in the first 2-3 years. By the change of teeth, their social awareness, emotional life begins to wake up and they engage much more socially, interacting with others, forming relationships and engaging with other adults besides their closest family members. When they arrive at puberty, they begin to stir with their own thoughts and idealism and want to explore real experiences, find love and become independent and free to make decisions.
As adults, we can resist these steps into independence or celebrate and love the children as they change. Change is often messy and uncomfortable and if we are able to recognise these major changes, we can feel the utmost empathy for children and their struggle. These are opportunities for us to learn to be wiser, more patient, develop our sense of humour and surrender to the inevitable whilst being creative and relevant in our support for these wondrous emerging beings.