The Dream of the Good
For kids of all ages from 1 to 18
The two basic requirements in the Swedish school law (chapter 1, §5) are that education should have a scientific foundation and be proven by long experience. It only takes a sentence in the school law, but for me and my team it entailed many years of hard work and patient scrutiny of the results. It gave us time to develop and thoroughly try out our fourfold method which now also is researched.
The Four Doors In
We developed a method with four forms of practice – doors in - which all lead to relaxation. They allow teachers and students to choose and give a sense of freedom. We did not want to impose on anyone, that never works. The doors are stillness, touch, reflection and mindful movement.
Short stillness practices were timed for different ages: 2—3 minutes for preschool, 5-6 minutes and 5-6 minutes for Elementary school and not more than 12 min for junior and senior high school. They help us to get in touch with ourselves without us thinking about performing or being anything special. When we are calm, we become more ourselves, we understand more, become more creative and peaceful.
Touch is also done during relaxation and stillness, after the initial, obligatory, question: May I massage you? It is the simplest form of contact with a friend. The concentration is in the hands. The hands are like big ears that listen to and feel, your comrade.
Reflection begins with a short moment of stillness (2-3 minutes). Here we do not discuss but talk from the heart and listen to ourselves and each other, not only the words but also trying to understand what is behind them, the feeling, the motivation, the presence. It gives us a broader perspective and helps us to get in touch with and understand our world. We don't discuss or try to persuade each other, just listening.
Slow concentrated movement is a way to connect with nature and our body. We become aware of our breathing, of our feet, their 'contact with the earth”, feeling the support from the earth at every step. We tune into harmony. Time slows down, a short moment can be experienced as a long time.
Other movement practices are simple yoga and qigong.
The drawings are made by Anders Kvammen, a popular and award winning Norwegian cartoonist.
The first scientific study on the method was made by Ole Henning Sommerfelt at the Peace Study Centre at the University in Tromsö in Norway. (Ole Henning Sommerfelt: The Dream of the Good – A Peace education project, 2004) The results were improved ability to react with calm and non-violence in provocative situations, improved empathy and a developed group harmony with less provocations. Observations in pre-school confirmed that also the younger pre-school children had become less aggressive.
The practices were later researched by Yvonne Terjestam, (PhD and Associate professor at the Linnaeus university) in two projects Children in Balance I (2004) and II (2012) with very good results: reduced mental ill health, less emotional problems and stress, improved peer relations, and well-being, less psychological problems and a tendency toward improved self-image.
Read more about the studies and research here