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All education depends upon the educator. The best teachers emphasize relationship, not management. Although adults always have the power to coerce children, true caring for the nature of the child requires trust (Miller 1990). Authenticity of the educator means the willingness to question himself or herself and move beyond control or management into genuine relationship. Dillon (2002) offered a great example from his research about a teacher who heard the voice of her own parents coming through as she spoke down to her students.
Is What We Teach Education can be transformed only by transforming the educator. (Krishnamurti 1981) Since the child’s consciousness develops in relationship with others, it is incumbent upon the educator to take great care to become aware of the child’s worldview. Moreover, who we are in our own consciousness strongly affects our students … and is the Volume 24, Number 4 (Winter 2011) 19 underpinning of all that we do with them. Because who we are is what we teach.
Education involves how the child is exposed to the process of learning, which is central to the consciousness of the learner. Entering the child’s worldview needs to be central to any educational process that claims to focus on the child because the child is the perceiver, the meaning-maker, the knowledge creator, and the learner. It is within the consciousness of the child that the learning occurs. Engaging the learning in developmentally appropriate communication creates an environment in which educator has resonance with the student.
Relationship with the Child As our research has shown, development occurs in relationship (Luvmour 2006; Luvmour 2010a). It is well established that the relationship with attuned educators and parents determines behavioral and mental well-being in children. Attunement is when one person (such as a parent or teacher) focuses attention on the internal world of another (such as a child) (Siegel 2007). Another way of talking about focusing attention on the internal world of the child is called resonance in which we create a relationship of mutual understanding and trust with a child.
Organizing Principle One common idea of these researchers is that there is an organizing principle at work in each stage of childhood that guides the child to access (and actualize) innate capacities and, ultimately, his or her true nature (Jung 1964; Maslow 1971). All innate capacities unfold in sequence and in relationship with others. As co-creators of the Natural Learning Relationships (NLR) approach to whole-child development, Ba Luvmour and I have furthered earlier understandings of child development and of the organizing principle in human development (See Table 1).
Some say that to discuss the consciousness of children is too mysterious, esoteric, and incomprehensible. I attribute this mistaken impression to the fact that consciousness is not easily located because it is not an object. The locus, or space, that consciousness occupies is similar to that for all the other psychological faculties in that it is only seen in its manifestations and in its relationship to time and space. Memory and thought are other examples.
Why should a discussion of education begin with a discussion of child development? Knowledge of child development is crucial to educators because that developmental knowledge can inform educators about the optimal age for appropriate communication strategies, for the relationship, and for environments that provide the best-needed support for the development of the child’s innate capacities. A primary assumption in this view is that knowledge is emergent and that it needs context and relationship to come into being.
To educate a child well, we must first understand the very nature of the child, and realize that every child is a unique individual.
Holistic education is based on the notion that there is an active creative force within each person, and that this force has an intrinsic purpose and direction. (Ron Miller 2008)
As a developmentalism, consultant, and educator, we often see parents arrive in my office motivated by care and hope for something better in the education of their children.
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