The order is released: from the teacher’s mouth to the students’ ears. Sometimes, the voice is calming, sometimes it comes across as a screech tossed into an abstract sea of noise.
What do we expect will occur?
The best case scenario: each pupil takes the command to heart and implements it however best suits her or him at that moment. This student would have studied all situations and all physical, mental and emotional reactions and would know at that instant, what adjustments are required in order to fulfill the teacher’s demand.
“Relax” says the teacher, and the student responds with relaxation.
How many adults could do it? How many know how to respond with relaxation when asked?
Have you practiced and experimented with your body in order to know just what you need to do in order to implement relaxation on cue?
Why do we expect it from our students?
Simi Levy in her course “Safat HaKeshev” The Language of Attentiveness reminds us that telling someone to relax is no guarantee that they have a clue how to do it.
Therefore, it must be a skill taught, just like how to hold a pencil or how to raise your hand instead of shouting out a question or answer.
And this is a skill that needs to be practiced, constantly. A few times during a classroom lesson and often throughout the day.
Often we demand that they “‘Listen!”
Is this a simple thing? What about those pupils who occupy a chair at a desk but whose minds are a million miles away, chasing the past, investigating dreams, or rehearsing potential futures.
Listening and relaxing are both teachable skills.
Safat haKeshev can instill the skill of listening, without judgement. We can teach the art of focusing on something whether it is a voice, a text or another’s presence, and when we happen to notice that we’ve lost concentration, how to be kind to ourselves and come back to try again. All this is what we must teach our pupils in order to help them develop into fully flowering adults.
This Week’s Class in the Language of Attentiveness – 8th graders
Listening to a Partner
This week’s theme was listening to the sounds around us, to my instructions, to a partner.
Materials: Pupils counting off into ‘1’s and ‘2’s
Thin wooden skewers
Pupils were partnered – a 1 with a 2
Each 1 was given a skewer
The exercise was to hold the skewer between them using their forefingers. The object was to keep it between them, not to allow it to fall. They needed to keep in mind that one end of the skewer was pointed and to be conscious of maintaining painless pressure.
The 1s began as the leader, moving their fingers in the space while the 2s were to be attentive followers.
After 2 minutes, they changed. 2s led while 1s followed.
After 2 minutes, they were to take turns and whoever felt like taking the lead would do so.
No talking was allowed.
After 2 minutes, the couples stopped. Shared their experiences and came back to the circle to share with the group if they chose to.
It was fun
It was interesting
It was annoying. She didn’t do what I did. The skewer fell all the time.
I didn’t like it. The skewer hurt. We had to change halfway so that she’d get the pointy end.
I wanted to be really adventurous, not jut stay in the little space, but she didn’t follow.
Me: Isn’t this interesting! Here we had 2 people who agreed to listen to one another. Some of you did so and others didn’t. How did it feel when your partner didn’t listen? Annoying, Frustrating. Did some of you get angry?
Isn’t this just how it is in our lives?
How many times do we want to say something to someone and they can’t hear us, or they don’t understand us?
It happens, doesn’t it?
How does it make you feel?
This exercise is designed to help us see what happens inside of us, when we’re listening to a partner. How much do we have to give up. How much do we have to try harder?
And how do we feel when we are able to listen, or to be heard?
Fascinating! A mini-sample of our everyday lives.
Back to individual Focus
We came back to simple focus using the Singing Bowl. And then I took a scan of the room. How many of you are energetic? Many hands. How many of you are tired? A few hands.
I decided to regulate the energy via Movements. I invited them into the floorspace. We went into a brief T’ai Chi warm-up concentrating on loosening up and then balance. Then we did some of the Chi Cong cutta: 8 pieces of Brocade to recenter their energies.
Most of them were with me, then slowly one by one went back to sit down, to watch, to rest. Half stayed on and they smiled at the end of the session.
The girls were happy to move onto quiet colouring in of mandalas. They chose the one they wanted and selected coloured pencils.
Dynamics were changing in the group. Many girls were chatty. One in particular who in general suffers from exclusion from social happenings, was extra bubbly.
I asked them to try to lower their volume. At one point I rang the Tibetan Singing Bowl to bring them to a ‘freeze’ to notice their bodies on the chair or on the cushion. Then they resumed their work.
We were invited to drink chai, prepared by A and N and Y, complete with beautiful signs and a thoughtful arrangement of the cups.
End of Session
We went back to the circle to discuss the morning.
Conclusions: The girls shared what they’d learned.
We need to work on listening to one another.
We promise to be less boisterous during our next session.