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Grace

Working with learning difficulties
In Auroville's elementary schools

See also Grace's page in Art & Culture section.

Grace dances. Through dance she expresses herself. But for her it is not enough to express her own feelings, she also helps others to find different ways of expression. Besides teaching various dance forms, Grace works as a 'remedial therapist'.

Remedial teacher

When realising, still in the Netherlands, that her oldest son (now 10 years old) had learning difficulties, Grace began to explore additional help besides day-to-day school education and eventually was trained as a remedial teacher and therapist. Since September 2000 she has worked with children needing special attention in some of Auroville's schools.

Overpowering frustration

"Our work starts when the teacher does not know what to do anymore. A child can be blocked, aggressive, violent or hyperactive, can have language, maths or identity problems, or dyslexia. The parents are frustrated, it's not a lack of interest, but it's overpowering."

Finding the trigger

With different methods like neo-linguistic programmes, Gestalt, body and creative work like drawing, clay boxing or story telling, the therapists try to shape and activate the self-healing powers of the child. Sometimes they struggle with the testing modem, but a range of standard techniques are available.

"You have to see the child in its entirety, its whole being. You have to stand back, be open and receptive, and not overimpose your idea about him/her. You have to find the right trigger."

Tapping into the source

In her research, Grace integrates the work done by the class teachers and tries to find the reasons behind emotional overstress, lack of concentration and focus, and other learning problems.

"We all carry something in us, but we forget. We have to find a way to tap back into that source," she says. "We can get access to it through exercise, through building up the self-confidence of the child. Some children grasp things in different ways. They are gifted enough to understand things, but we are not ready to introduce them to knowledge in a way that is accessible to them. These kids often have an over-developed nature, but 'teaching' them in old fashioned ways just does not work. They're always supposed to function the way conventional education wants them to function, but they can't respond to that. Only in giving them our full awareness do we receive full awareness. We have to animate the child with a lot of love and care, and keenly observe and see who he or she really is. They rely on the help of the universe.

Fortunately, this idea is not at all new anymore, educational approaches are expanding. But it's very important; a lot of research has still to be done."

Warrior of love

When Grace sees an angry child letting all its powerful anger flow through colour pencils into a beautiful drawing or collage, she knows her methods are working. "It's like magic," she smiles. "But it's a long road. If I have a bad day, it's just not working. Sometimes I'm impatient. The child has to be fully, unconditionally loved, but it's not the sweet soft way of love that does it, when for instance the child blocks everything! Sometimes it is an aggressive loving when I hold a child in my arms. Then I feel like a warrior of love."

 

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