COMPONENTS OF HOLISTIC LEARNING
By Dave Till and Christine Lines
This is the seventh article in our series on Holistic Learning, to read the introduction and view the other components to follow please click here.
7. Changing Modes – Physical Activity and Playing Games
Changing modes is a useful term to signify changing to a different aspect of the whole person and not spending long periods in one ‘mode’. During a very mental session of learning, it can be helpful to change modes by moving into the physical – getting up, moving, playing games, taking a break. The group will often signify when this is necessary if the facilitator hasn’t noticed.
The mode can change organically from the mental level to the emotional, as students give their emotional reactions to a piece of knowledge. Dave said, “During the Findhorn Community Semester we would encourage students to indicate when they felt they needed to change modes. If they didn’t, staff would change modes after no longer than 45 minutes in one area. We would never do purely mental learning for hours at a time.”
A good repetoire of physical warm ups and games is very useful for changing modes. “Also on the FCS programme we encouraged students to bring their own warm-up techniques and games to class. Often we would rota in who would be doing the warm-up that day. (Usually we started every session with a structured warm-up). Attention has to be given to the physically infirm, but warm ups can be adapted for everyone.”
There are other options, beyond for example yoga or tai chi style physical warm ups. The book, “Building trust in groups” published by Findhorn Press explores ways to help groups function at their optimum level by encouraging openness, fun, co-operation and trust. The games can involve groups or pairs, be silent or vocal, silly or meaningful, still or active. All contribute to group bonding and a change from the mental level into the physical, and often the emotional and spiritual levels too.
During the three month Foundation Programme (which has now evolved into Spiritual and Personal Deepening) different presenters would come in for different sessions and we would often begin with a short game or exercise as a gentle introduction to the day.
One example is in a group of ten, there would be only nine chairs. Everyone would stand up and then one person would ask a question that is true for them, eg. “Who had breakfast this morning?” Everyone who had breakfast would rush for a seat first and the person left standing would ask the next question. This can continue for just five or ten minutes and become as bold as participants feel comfortable.
Games can relax the group or build the energy and can be introduced for different purposes. This one fosters spontaneity and can generate more attention in the information presented next, by shifting the energy in the room.
Each week we will introduce a new topic. Please feel free to add your views and comments to expand on it more fully.
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