Reflections on BELONGING
“I have long remembered the quote, “Non scholae, sed vitae discimus!” Not for school, but for life we learn!
Today, educators and learners alike are facing very difficult times, physically, emotionally, and mentally. No one goes into the field of education to make money; it is a ‘calling’. As a teacher and a school superintendent, I am a little unusual, given that I search outside the system for new opportunities to develop the school, and encourage and motivate both my teachers and our students. In recent years I’ve come to realize the urgency of eradicating fear in all its overt and covert forms, this leading to my knowing that we as teachers cannot suppress what our own hearts say, nor can we afford to ignore what the children are saying.
When I grasped the deep meaning and rigorous science underlying EDUCARING and TeamPlay Ground, the education project built on the Mereon principles, I realised that this was the opportunity of a lifetime.
The purpose that this project addresses is a new call to educational action. It starts with “authenticity’, and ends with “experiences that generate respect for others” ringing with crystalline clarity. In the Mereon taxonomy of educational purposes, I feel every word has been thought through with enlightening innovation, communicating the possibility for happiness. With simplicity and wisdom, TeamPlay Ground provides a means for allowing the deep and inalienable rights of every student and educator rise to the surface. BeLonging provides new proof that education is the soul of planetary sustainability, quickly teaching us to recognise the difference between natural, and normal. Talk about a miracle! Experiencing natural is the clearest and most direct path to opening minds and hearts. We realised that through our willingness to be real with one another, vulnerable rather than shielded, that we most powerfully discovered our shared humanity. This willingness freed us to evolve the spirit of something greater. Inevitably, I recall Guilford’s cognitive cube, Bloom’s taxonomy of educational aims, the scale of the fundamental needs of man according to Maslow and Vandevelde’s analysis of teaching/learning situations, the analysis of class dynamics according to DuPont. All were fascinating and fundamental contributions to the sciences of education, but I believe the Mereon Educational model as implemented in Belonging’s TeamPlay Ground is a contribution that goes beyond all of them for originality, essential organicity and realisability. Moreover, I believe this ‘inside-out’, inner-as primary driven social curriculum is the only one of its kind, aimed at presenting the role of the teacher as a facilitator of the classroom dynamics. This work is powerful in that is essentially orients students and teachers alike toward a fundamental principle of self-organization and from there to cooperation.
Every opportunity to work with Lynnclaire and the Mereon Education Team focuses us on deepening our learning, exploring new methods of communication based on what is natural in a whole system. They continue to impart a deep understanding by reminding us that how we say what we say, the tones we use, has the power to link our hearts and minds or break us apart. Every single participant, teachers, parents and community leaders, report that they have come to see new perspectives of themselves and others, experiencing the unity that is the foundation beneath their obvious diversity. The many weeks we have spent together have been occasions to celebrate as we came to feel and reflect a new harmony, honouring the essential beauty and unity within one another. We continue to discover new skills for self-organizing, individually and as members of a group, while learning innovative ways to collaborate and accept both solo and joint responsibilities for planning.
Lynnclaire has designed many different interactive exercises that allow us to experience how simple it is for the authenticity of every teacher and student to safely rise to the surface, and be voiced. In learning anew how to nurture and improve the informal dimension of school life, the emotions, affections and relationships with colleagues, we as course participants began to link our intuitive and cognitive intelligences, honouring our subjective feelings and the objectively shared reality, recognizing aspects of ourselves that are simultaneously spiritual and human.
Every time she and team members are in Italy, the courses spill over into lunch and dinner, as she selflessly invests hours in nurturing our spirits and our one soul, helping us balance our personal energy as well as our analytical, organizational skills. Every moment flows together, the time evaporating as we experience a lasting harmonizing of our relational dynamics that lead us to higher levels of self-respect and a deeper appreciation for others. The benefits are personal as well as for us as educators and human beings; this program has done far more than make us better educators; it has made us better parents, spouses and friends. By reconnecting with our individual authenticity, we continue to expand our own creativity while reinvigorating the remarkable spirit of co-creation. The joy that comes in this work is based upon her insistence that elementary principles of organization and education are FUN, ‘fun’ being the first syllable in the word fundamental. In requiring that fun come before the ‘mental’, we have –incredibly– found the cure for ‘burn-out’!
… It is an honour to work with the team and to have been privileged to inaugurate this fascinating adventure in education. We love hosting those who come to observe and participate with what is happening in our lives as well as our schools, and have enjoyed visitors from America, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Canada, Croatia and England! Can you imagine what it is for me as a director to have parents calling to tell me that their children are happy to come to school? Imagine what it is like to hear parents say that they want all of their children to be involved in this project! It is incredible to walk down the halls of my schools and feel and see the changes; there are smiles on everyone’s faces. Even the school auditor from Rome one day asked me, “Why are your schools so different? What is making everyone happy?”
We have learned that as educators we are social architects, and it is up to us to work together to design a new civilization. It is time for us to relearn how to care for our children, and allow them to learn to be authentic so they can take care of themselves and care for the planet. It is time to stop coercing them, and in a new way, begin to respect them as human beings. TeamPlay Ground’s positive impact in education and moving from Mirano into the world has long been our dream. Here in Mirano, with the TeamPlay Ground project we inaugurated a new kind of literacy program. It is one that teaches us the languages of the heart and mind. TeamPlay Ground shows us how to read and speak our own emotional and mental languages and those of others. It is showing us how to write new truths into our physical worlds by mastering skills that allow us to with wisdom and discernment, support personal transformation that leads to holistic global sustainability.
Working and playing with Lynnclaire, the Mereon team and my incredible teachers has led us all to a new commitment; we are dedicated to understanding. This program continues to bring deep honour to us as individuals, to our families, our schools, our community, and to all Italy. By bringing our different experiences together, we have opened the rare gift of understanding, discovering the energy that continues to deeply unite our minds and hearts. The first assessment of the project, written at the conclusion of the 2004-2005 school year by the TeamPlay Ground Commission, says, “Through BeLonging learners learn and learn to lead; some learn best by thinking, by doing, and by loving; while others learn best by loving, doing and only later thinking.”
I want to express all my abiding gratitude for the logic and creative insights of this work, and to Lynnclaire for first sharing these inlightening thoughts with the educators, children, community leaders and people of Mirano, Italy. As Director of the Mirano Elementary Public Schools, I face very difficult times. However, I am proud of our community for recognizing the vital importance of this work. Every opportunity has proven to be a chance to grow personally and thereby to become an effective catalyst for assisting our teachers who work so hard with the children, helping them to see how by working together, in our individual wholeness we each play a significant part in making a positive difference in our world, both inner and outer. What TeamPlay Ground has brought out of our teachers, learners, schools and our community is almost unimaginable.”
Dr. Alessio Morassut,
Personal communicationtranslated by Dr. Lucia Pesce)