Published 28. November 2018
This conference on "Children and parents of the changing times” was a special day in many ways.
We would like to thank the four speakers and Emmanuel Steiger for his “moderate moderation”, as he himself called it.
Together with Christina on the stage were: Martina Amato (former lawyer, author) who together with her husband has supported her two daughters during their homeschooling for three years, Lena Giger (author, coach) who was present on stage and in the hall with her little son Shilal and her dog Taischa and who consistently follows the path her heart shows her, as well as Manuel Grämiger (Certified Integral Coach and Dipl. Mental Trainer), who has been travelling the world with his wife and three children since 2015 and teaches their children on the way.
All these people represent pioneering life and ways of being in very different forms. Each and every one of them breaks new ground in life in their own way, helping to find new paths and making it easier for those who come after to follow such paths themselves.
Our time urgently needs people who have the courage to stand up for themselves and their heart’s longings, and particularly those of their children, and who implement these in a responsible way, integrating them into their respective lives and thus creating the new. We need them because our society is on the verge of great change, and completely new approaches are needed for a thriving future, befitting human beings.
It is important to emphasise that none of those present condemns the existing system. Christina also emphasises again and again that for many children primary school can be just the right thing. This is an appeal for the freedom of every child and every family to decide where and how a child receives its education. It was clearly stated that it’s not about being against school, but being for change and also for a free choice of school, a choice which meets the individual needs of the children and entails no financial disadvantages.
We would also like to thank the unbelievable number of teachers who were present - judging by the hands that were raised, they constituted more than half of the 600 or so present! This fact is encouraging, because there is an urgent need for those now directly involved in the existing system to help bring about the changes needed.
First there was an introduction by Emmanuel, in which he emphasised the importance of creating new ways for oneself, where there were none before, and in which he spoke about some pioneers of new learning, as well as the latest findings from brain research, which clearly prove that enthusiasm, combined with one’s own impulse to learn something, leads to very fast and efficient learning effects.
Christina then briefly added a few words saying that this was now seen very much from the point of view of the mind and that our society needs to relax - that relaxed people are needed to make it possible for new things to emerge.
All the speakers briefly described the circumstances which had induced them to begin looking for new ways, for both themselves and their children, and to then follow them. As different as the stories may be, this always arose out of a feeling of unhappiness with regard to the existing situation. The lives people had planned for themselves suddenly slipped out of control, either due to illnesses arising out of disharmony, which affected the whole family, or through children rebelling and refusing to comply, or through a clear “no” from one’s own heart with regard to an existing situation, or a combination of all of these.
What all those present on stage have in common is that they all began to take these signs seriously and then consistently tried to bring about change. They began to courageously look for the most viable and coherent path for them in this situation and then took it.
Martina Amato noted that planning often has to do with the need for control and that in some situations you are suddenly forced to let go.
She also spoke about the path she took with one of her daughters, who began refusing to go to school shortly after she’d started. For one thing, she suddenly suffered from anxiety - and at the same time, she could say quite clearly: “I’m never going to that school again, because it doesn’t feel like real life”. During a crisis discussion, the paediatrician mentioned the possibility of homeschooling and Martina Amato finally decided to follow this path together with her family.
Today, her daughters are doing very well. They go to a small private school, fear and panic attacks disappeared as suddenly as they had come, and what the daughter concerned realised in the end was, “Mum, fear is only in the head…”
How wonderfully wise!
Martina also told us the story of a father whose eldest son (11) is currently working on subjects that would be completely unthinkable in normal school life at his age. He’s studying all of Albert Einstein’s writings intensively, dreams of “inventing a new kind of energy”, and is currently looking into the theory of creation.
I find Martina Amato’s proposal for education vouchers, which would make it possible for every family and their child to choose the school or form of education that best suits that child’s needs, an interesting approach.
She also said that since the legal regulations are a little different everywhere “we not only have tax tourism but also homeschool tourism in Switzerland.” For example, some families, who would like to do homeschooling but live in a canton which doesn’t provide for this, even move to another canton.
Lena told us how unhappy she feels with the concepts that exist in our society, which constrict her, and how happy her heart feels with things that unfortunately don’t make “economic sense” at all. But her heart tells her: “Hey, you’re free!”
She also spoke about the challenges children face when they arrive here, how they’re still so connected with their inner light, and come into an environment which is pretty dark and rigid, and how big the challenge is for a mother, when it comes to accompany this arrival. That mothers are not helped, above all, by their children being “taken away” in order to give them a break, but by being given helpful support themselves.
Manuel noted that this is still the case even with older children. During the seminar he emphasised repeatedly how important the connection with one’s own inner being is - the interiorisation (pausing inwardly…note N.G.) by means of meditation, which does not always have to be carried out in a classical meditation posture, but which you can also do when moving or working, e.g. by concentrating on the breath – and that he and his wife also pass this on to their children.
His description of how his children are developing in this School of Life and how he and his wife accompany the children in learning what they are “burning” to learn is impressive.
Christina’s comments on school (1)
Christina spoke about the fact that independent thinking is not encouraged in schools, that learning content is supposed to be adopted without criticism just as it’s presented, and that, during the many years spent at school, a thought construct and world view is thereby built up, with which young people then go out into life, and which later determines our whole way of looking at the world.
She emphasised that inventions have only ever come into being when someone “thinks where no one has ever thought before”. She says that schools should be so inspiring that enthusiasm remains, and that, in fact, nobody is born without enthusiasm!
“Children are the first to show society what it can become. Our society’s reaction to new impulses is often ‘they’re mad.’ Anything that falls outside of the average is declared to be abnormal.”
“This means that the future is declared to be ‘ill’, just so we can preserve our past!”
"Children often don’t want to do homework because it’s not relevant to them. That’s not because children are a little weird in the head. We can measure how up-to-date our school system is by looking at the children. The more it suits the children, the more smoothly it runs. The more the children enjoy going to school, the more up-to-date the system is.
Not only things such as writing, reading, mathematics and geometry should be taught at school, but learning content should also include how to solve a conflict or how to deal with something completely new. When they go to school, this is often the first time that children meet with completely new people outside of their circle of relations, family and friends."
Christina says that she didn’t learn the most important things in life at school. She adds the amusing remark made by a man, who said that, if his car breaks down, he wants to know how to repair the car, and that it is of very little use to him to be able to calculate the circumference of the tyre or the area of the warning triangle…
“We can’t write down all the things we learn. Much of it we carry home in our hearts.
For me, the question is simply: what inspires me? We can’t all be driven through this channel, and come out a shaped mass. In this regard, we need less generalisation and more individualisation.”
Question from a teacher
“I feel that the children are different. And I feel a little lost because I want to impart something WITHIN the system. But I need help.”
Martina replied that this teacher was one of many who felt the same way, and recommended the book “Die Glücksschule” (see HERE) and networking in the association (see list below).
She also said that many in her situation start their own project or become homeschooling teachers.
Manuel added that the little miracles in everyday life happen if you ask yourself, “What is it really all about?” This results in realising that a drama or a radical break is not always needed. If you take small steps, you don’t always have to invent something new straight away. The patterns we have adopted are often such that they prevent us from recognising that we carry the solution within ourselves, and that listening to ourselves is an important process, whereby we find that we often don’t need outside help at all.
Lena noted that it is simply important to be in the heart, because that is the best way to find out where our path leads. Whether it’s about staying in the system and working there or about getting out… “Your heart knows everything,” she said – and, “Follow joy!”
Setting limits, punishment
This topic was also discussed, along with many others that cannot be listed here in detail.
It became obvious that a system of punishment (e.g. collecting penalty points, etc.) clearly dampened the joy of learning among the children of the speakers - various examples from everyday school life were cited.
I found Manuel’s statement, that he doesn’t especially praise his children either because that only strengthens evaluation, particularly interesting. He and his wife show their approval of their children by assuring them that they are wonderful and loved just as they are and not because of any achievements. They give their children the most precious thing they can give them: the certainty that they are valued just as they are.
The discussion dealt with the fact that punishment has a solely destructive effect, that there was even a number system created in schools to implement it, and that this is coupled with fear. This is then also transferred to the parents, who start worrying whether their child is “good enough”.
Lena said that determining guidelines regarding the setting of limits would not be possible. For her, it was important when setting limits to ask: “Am I doing this out of love?” and try to explain that to her son. Sometimes she is “anti-authoritarian”, and at other times, she sets very clear limits, depending on what is relevant to the situation.
Homeschooling and enthusiasm as an engine
Martina mentioned that we all actually do homeschooling with our children before they start school. It basically means finding what they’re enthusiastic about and taking this as a starting point. And that there is no reason why this can’t be carried on, because children are so enthusiastic. This is the most important tool for learning.
Martina told us that she and her daughters learned so much every day without realising it. And that she was allowed to learn so much from her daughters, in return for what she gave, through this form of learning.
She mentioned that, three years ago, she could never have imagined doing homeschooling with her daughters. Today, however, this is the best thing that could have happened to them, a wonderful gift.
When it comes to bringing about change and taking action, many say: “Yes, but the law is so and so.” Martina would like to remind people that laws are also only man-made and that if there are enough people who want change, laws can also be changed.
Manuel explained that when we find ourselves, we are able move so much. We then achieve so much more than we think we do, on a level that we may not even be aware of. We often believe that in a certain situation we can’t get any further - and that’s just where it’s so important to carry on. This is exactly where it’s enthusiasm that keeps us going. It’s like a child wanting to learn to walk - it falls down - and stands up again and goes on until it’s got it. Today we walk on two legs and don’t even think about it anymore…
He says: “This is what I’m calling for: keep setting new impulses and stand up for them”.
Christina on change and school (2)
Christina picked this up and said: "Standing up for something is quite different from being against something. Standing up for something is solution-oriented.
If we want change, the first step is always to awaken consciousness. Things have come into being because people have created something together, with their consciousness. If we want change, we have to start with ourselves.
Many wish for change but don’t act accordingly.
Imagine there were a law that said we weren’t allowed to grow carrots anymore. Well, and if people grow carrots anyway, there’s a law, but it has no effect.
It would be so important for everyone to say what changes they wish to see, there, where they are. We need schools that are flexible and versatile. Where the pressure’s taken off the children so that they return to their hearts. We bring so many patterns regarding "how it’s done” with us from our upbringing. The thing is to forget these patterns when they’re no longer beneficial.
It would be great if schools also helped to dissolve these patterns.
It would be great if they were free… if learning were free, if there were no curricula, etc.
But this also needs the trust of the parents in their children (“Well, are they going to learn anything at all like that?”).
It needs the confidence that, if a child is in contact with its own inner being, it will always learn the right thing at the right time…
Particularly in the area of education, we notice that change is needed. If children even commit suicide because of school, then something’s wrong.
You can let the children who feel comfortable in primary school stay there. There are children who have a structure that corresponds to the primary school structure. But the others, they need something else.
Systems are made up of people, so we need a large number of people who want a change. It would be wonderful if we knew HOW MANY people in Switzerland wanted a new education system. It would be great if we knew that…
It needs enough people who are willing to say, "Yes, we are ready to set a new impulse.
To do this we need to know: “What are we actually aiming at?”
This requires three things: 1. orientation, 2. human beings and 3. maybe a touch of madness… in a positive sense!
Everything that falls outside of the average is labelled “mad” very quickly. So if somebody says, “You’re crazy!” take it as a compliment…
Changes that work in the long run are always based on people finding that they want something different now.
Schools are about children. That’s why schools should adapt to them. We’ve learned to consume. But if we want to change a system, we can only do that if the people who are connected to that system also tell others WHAT they want to be different.
My idea is to have a platform where people who want change, and who are willing to do something about it, can network. A LARGE number of people is needed. I would just like this information now. That’s why I want to try it. I have no idea how many emails are going to arrive now. We need facts and figures. So far, we can only make an estimation. I would like to know if the TIME HAS ALREADY COME in which there could be a fundamental change… because that needs a large number of people!
I AM CONVINCED THAT A LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE, TOGETHER AS ONE MASS, WHO WANT THE SAME THING, CAN BRING ABOUT CHANGE!
“Yes, I want a change in the school system. And I’m willing to do something, even if only a little, to support it.”
So much for the notes taken on that day, which, as always, can only shed a little light on what was said. At the heart of it was Christina’s call to bring about change by expressing our desires and joining forces.
Her aim is to provide children with the educational opportunity that suits them best, allows them to keep their enthusiasm, promotes independent thinking and research, and corresponds to their true being.
The wonderful contributions of all the speakers, whether in words or, as with Lena, in deeds, simply doing what was right for her and her son without interfering with others, gave this day its colourfulness, liveliness and multiplicity. Not forgetting a bit of a dance here and there to loosen us up.
Thanks again to everyone on the stage and to everyone present in the hall.
Last but not least, the closing words of a gentleman from the audience:
“Thank you for this wonderful day and for all those I got to know. I am delighted that this room is so full today, and I wish this event had been broadcast on SRF (Swiss television, N.G.). Today is voting day - and, in times in which it is possible to vote on ‘Hornkuh-Initiativen’ (initiatives to let cows keep their horns), it should also be possible to vote on a new education system.”