Growing up in public school, teaching, having children--time and time again I have been moved by the spirit within each human being. For me this has been an essential part of working with the young. I have sought to experience who children deeply are, and to be guided by what I discover.
My great desire is to help children flourish, appreciate themselves, and contribute their gifts. The educators and parents I know share this desire, as well as a concern for the stressors in our culture and the impact they are having.
Over time and observation in the field of human development I have observed patterns in American public education and home life that need to evolve:
- Swinging from overly rigid models of teaching and assessing children (a cookie-cutter approach) to overly progressive ones, with too much focus on what children want and a lack of discipline and rigor.
- Overly strict parenting styles that suppress children's creativity and enthusiasm, or overly permissive styles where kids fail to develop basic disciplines or team work.
- Uneven allocation of resources--children in America do not have equal access to the resources and skilled teachers needed to provide a quality education.
- Much more attention in schools to the development of the intellect than to the development of children's inner life or to their physical wellbeing.
- Lopsided attention at home---stressing children's academic achievement or success in sports, for example.
- Incomplete approaches or approaches that overgeneralize--taking strategies which help some children and applying them to all children.
The person I sought to help me address these concerns was my long-time meditation and philosophy teacher, Ellen Tadd. Her powerful understandings of human development have guided my own growth in each area of my life—a benefit shared by the tens of thousands of individuals she has served. Ellen has been a guide for the emergence of Creative Lives, Inc. over the past 5 years, and has trained me in her methodology so that I might share this work with the teachers and parents who are raising our children.
My experiences in the field have been profound, as I witness an easing of the suffering and pressure born of our individual and cultural confusion. As people of all ages realize how focus can be learned and practiced, that inspiration and wisdom can be cultivated, or that negative emotions can shift, sometimes on a dime, a relieving, inner calm emerges. Ellen calls this "stepping off the roller coaster ride." We begin to move out of negative cultural conditioning, and find balance. We begin to seek out a more attuned pace of life -- less rushing, more thoughtful awareness.
Parents and teachers who adopt a Framework-based meditation practice, for example, note that this one, simple change has proven to be a game changer in terms of the capacity supporting their children's wellbeing at home or school. As our adult communication becomes more focused and effective, the young people we serve can develop in a happy, creative and healthy way.
Ellen and I both note that children learn this Framework tools and strategies most quickly of all. They have less blocking the way! As you read through some of our "Stories from the Field" you'll get some first-hand examples of this. And so I imagine: What if discernment became children's habit, just as they have learned the habit of eating cereal with a spoon? What if every day they practiced tuning in to themselves, to what was theirs to do? What if they ate well, slept well and received appropriate health care. What if they were encouraged to unfold in their own, beautiful timing. This is a vision to hold!
A healthier environment, more compassionate culture, a more peaceful global community -- these possibilities rest in the hands of our youth. The wellbeing of children concerns us all.
I look forward to sharing our applications of Ellen's work with you.