The missing link in education
A new approach to education in which both hemispheres of the brain are brought into balance and interplay will produce creative, well-adjusted children and adults, as illustrated by Pat Theisen's Perceptual Enrichment Program.
Brotherhood is the keynote of the coming age of Aquarius. The incoming energies from this constellation are turning people’s minds towards group achievement and cooperation. In contrast, the emphasis of the past 2,000 years of the age of Pisces has been upon individual achievement and competition.
Workers in education, in this period of transition, are struggling to transform old systems into a new approach with a new emphasis. Inevitably, there is considerable conflict between those who look back and cling to the past, fearing an unknown future, and those who look ahead and see clearly the direction that will bring in the New Education.
I have found it most interesting to observe various experiments in a new approach to education which contains some of the elements of which the Tibetan (the Master DK) speaks in Education in the New Age by Alice Bailey. He says: "Clear thinking, much love and a sense of true compromise will do much to lay the needed foundations and keep the door of the future wide open." Modern educators should, He says, be aware of the existence of a balancing process.
In a child’s being there are two poles: the living energy and intelligence. The living energy of the spirit aspect anchored in the heart uses the bloodstream as the distributing agent to all parts of the physical body, thus keeping it healthy and whole. Intelligence is the consciousness aspect anchored in the head; it controls the intelligent activity in the brain. The balancing process between these two poles should be taking place in the child at this time, so that knowledge is used in relation to group need, and living energy is turned towards the group whole (pp91-2).
Lack of understanding of the need to create a balance between the human and spiritual aspects of the growing child has resulted in an increase in the number of bright children with learning difficulties in this period of transition. By contrast, the educational work of Pat Theisen, a Florida-based educationalist and the developer of the Perceptual Enrichment Program, is worthy of note. An intensive study of learning difficulties (in children of all ages) has led her to discover their causes and solutions. Ms Theisen has approached this issue from a background of neuro-development. She questioned why, with so many children of above-average intelligence incarnating at this time, there are many who develop learning disabilities. Boredom, problems at home and similar issues are contributors, but not necessarily the primary cause. Her study of neurology in relation to the development of the brain in young children enabled her to see clearly why the period from birth to 12 years is recognized by psychologists as being so important. It is interesting to note that many of her conclusions tie in with the teachings of the Master DK. For instance, the Tibetan states in Education in the New Age that during the first 10 years a child should be "taught to deal intelligently with information coming to him via the five senses to the brain". (p8)
The left hemisphere of the brain is active in objective, analytical thought and the right hemisphere is subjective and intuitive in its response to the relational world of activity. During each phase of childhood, certain cells in the brain are awakened and developed to create a pattern of activity between the two hemispheres (this is part of the balancing process referred to in Education in the New Age as the blending of living energy and intelligence). Lack of development, or over-emphasis of right or left hemispheric function, inhibits the free flow of energy between the two, thus limiting observation, quick response, creative expression and physical co-ordination. A child develops through structured, ritualistic, creative and symbolic play; that is, in essence, the foundation of visual memory, relating objects to self and to other objects, spatial relations, and relational, descriptive and analytical thinking. Children who are rushed through these stages of natural development, says Pat Theisen, are likely to have learning difficulties and possibly psychological problems. Whereas, if right activities are fostered with love at an early age, intuition, concentration and careful analysis will be integrated into a dynamic rhythm. This rhythm will stimulate the child’s ability to enjoy the discovery of life in its environment and the relationships involved. He will then respond to training the mind to become dominant over his emotions and desire impulses. A highly intelligent person can compensate for the inadequacies of childhood, however, much energy is wasted in the process.
Pat Theisen has developed a Perceptual Enrichment Program which is a simple series of activities to awaken direct observation, the ability to make relationships and to use objective reasoning. In her words, "conceptual awareness of spatial relationships is the underlying basis for the symbols used in reading, writing (eye/hand co-ordination in response to seeing and hearing) and maths comprehension". The course is graded for the level of development of the child, adolescent, or adult. She uses certain educational games for verbal response, simple Lego puzzles that develop visual spacial relationships, sequence cards in colors and forms to develop organizational skills such as planning ahead, and analogies and reasoning tests.
Each exercise is designed to take the student step by step through the course, arriving at a point where the mind can be stretched without stress. It is believed that at this point in evolution only a portion of the brain is active. Pat Theisen believes that dormant cells can be awakened through these activities or mental exercises, to compensate for brain damage or to assist in awakening brain cells to achieve a greater degree of hemispheric functioning. Her technique provides an atmosphere of loving understanding and patience, creating a sense of enjoyment rather than competition. It fosters the discovery that limitations to the expansion of the mind and brain are, in fact, illusions.
I had the privilege of observing Pat Theisen working with both children and adults; I was amazed at such extraordinary transformations in minds of any age. It is heart-warming to see children come in for their one-hour learning session with such enthusiasm. They quickly increased their attention spans because learning has become an exciting experience. I observed a 17-month-old baby, partially paralyzed, learning to use an arm normally through encouraging her in play situations that required both arms. I also saw a highly intelligent but hyperactive five-year-old boy who, through the course, increased his ability to concentrate. With some children the change in grades on report cards and to orderliness at home is remarkable. They also relate to other people well because they have gained confidence in themselves.
Adults experience release from the stress of constantly compensating for the inability to think through problems clearly with logical analysis. Many parents, seeing the results in their children, sign up for the course when they realize that the child’s problems are unresolved in themselves.
Pat Theisen’s goal is to reach a wider public through the integration of her Perceptual Enrichment Program into the public (State) school system. She has begun training students at her Petersburg Center.
To me the importance of this method lies in the fact that the problems of both child and adult need to be resolved on the mental plane. For example, the child with learning difficulties becomes frustrated because he cannot relate properly to the world about him. He develops emotional problems, receives treatment with generally accepted methods and becomes stable. However the emotional condition returns because only the effects of frustration are treated. The mental blocks that caused learning difficulties remain unresolved. Many people seek psychological help because they lack the skill to focus effectively on the mental plane. This is especially disturbing for the highly intelligent person. Mental polarization is a natural part of the evolutionary process. Recognition of this fact is vital especially at this time as humanity is beginning to experience the gradual transition from the human kingdom into the Kingdom of Souls — the New Age of Brotherhood. Its manifestation can only come about through polarization on the mental plane. The New Education, of which Pat Theisen is a part, recognizes this primary goal. The Master DK refers to this goal when he says in Education in the New Age that education should in the New Age be concerned with bridging the gap between the soul and personality, thus linking up the integral parts with the greater whole. The future education is therefore the science of bridging and balancing the higher and lower aspects of our being, thus providing a means of expressing our true nature.