Letter de Elisabeth d'Ornano
Some Words on Education
I am glad to greet you again and approach such an important issue as child education. In our opinion, education must respect the child as a whole, with his talents and difficulties in order to give an answer to his needs. Children represent the future: let`s leave every child to grow at his own pace, let`s avoid anticipating to his wills in order to allow him to ask. Let`s allow children to play and have sufficient time to feel bored to help them create the world they need. We wish an education not based on fear of failure, but based on the enthusiasm for learning, on complementarity and solidarity.
The Association came into being in May of 2009 with the main objective of helping hyperactive children with attention deficit. These children present higher difficulties than others in carrying out their studies and they have more obstacles than the average person, but this does not mean that they are less capable. Many people whom we now consider geniuses had learning problems maybe because they functioned in a different way than the rest and required another type of education. Our brain is very complex and we are not all cut from the same cloth. We should not limit a child with ADHD expecting he won`t be capable, because the way in which we value him is the way in which he will accomplish his dreams. Instead of perceiving these children as hectic, impulsive, fidgety and eager to let off steam, we can help them by recognizing that this behavior can hide a hypersensitive child, full of imagination and vital energy, extremely demanding towards himself and others, and that suffers terribly the frustration of not being able to achieve his dreams immediately. This child, like all children, has an incredible need of feeling loved and a need of stability.
Both in our web site as in every activity we organize, we wish to transmit how much we can do for these children within the family and the school. In the web site you can find a guide for parents and teachers focused on how to help them. Children with ADHD will benefit of clear and concise instructions, and an environment that transmits safety, firmness and coherence. Listening to them with patience and comprehension as well as with honest interest towards their activities, will help them trust in their creative potential. The child must understand there are some difficulties that will escape his control but that he can overcome them with special help; furthermore, he may have more ease for other things and that has to be taken into consideration. Sometimes, when there are difficulties to deal with, it`s hard to have in mind things that are well done, though it`s essential for a satisfactory growth. Sometimes it can be helpful when one feels incapable of dealing with the situation, to assist to psychological therapy in order for the whole family to live better and be able to help the child integrate into school. When parents spend time and effort with their child, make him feel appreciated, respected and loved at all times despite his difficulties, this child will be more eager to please, will find the motivation to strive, trying not to disappoint people that support him because this support and unconditional love is what deep down, he knows makes him happy.
In this context, we consider necessary a less strict education than the one we are used to. An education that may allow children to learn what they need to live better and develop the aspects in which they stand out. We must try to balance school homework, sports and any other ability they may develop, with openness towards abstract knowledge by developing their creativity. This could be for example through manual intelligence, which connects us to nature and to the life that supports us, that raises our awareness towards beauty and our responsibility towards life in general. My son found a real artistic talent when he started working with clay, which gives him much happiness and satisfaction. Many of these children, like so many others, have certain aspects of their intelligence especially developed; this allows them to be good at sports, music, painting, cinema, etc. even politics or social relations. We must take into account that jobs in the current society are in constant evolution and that there is an increasing demand for creative, inventive and globally envisioned people, with the element of “will”, the will to undertake. The lack of support, would have deprived us from some people that weren`t very brilliant academically, but turned out to be wonderful in different areas, people we now appreciate or even worship.
In a world in which the main objective is to level up everyone’s rights and opportunities, the right to education should be one of the most flexible and adaptable to diversity. In Spain, the law allows to adapt the academic curriculum to the student`s characteristics (the rules are posted in this site for your reference). The case of children with ADHD is a clear example of a case in which this law should be put into practice. Evaluating a child based on his level of knowledge and real abilities, with creativity and flexibility may have a crucial influence in the development of a person who is starting to build his way. It`s important for the child to be able to demonstrate his abilities in order to motivate his eagerness to learn, instead of feeling inclined to abandoning his studies. I would also like to say that we are saturated with mails of parents desperate on the quantity of homework that children take home, which mean hours of frustration for all, for the wasted family time and because private support classes can be unaffordable. Parents don’t know what to do and we don’t know how to help them, other than by transmitting this message.
The knowledge people acquire at youth should lead towards understanding the meaning of life, because what is essential is to live and not to be a professor, engineer or economist; and in order to live and face what emerges in life, it`s important to reinforce character in order to measure up to the responsibilities the diplomas will demand, because depending on character they will either build or destroy. Sometimes, without noticing, we educate focusing on success, moving the children away from reality and deviating them from their path in life. Education must aim to stimulate intelligence and generate doubt in children to enable them to create solutions and think for themselves. Therefore it’s important for us to be humble, self-critical and to acknowledge our shortcomings, so they can acknowledge theirs. As important as acknowledging our shortcomings trying to progress, is to discover and encourage the talent of every person, to help the child find his own. In order to do so, through dialogue and interaction, we can gain their confidence enabling us to educate emotionally. As talent is developed along with us, we sometimes consider it so natural that we don`t give it the importance it really has. For children with difficulties, the chance of developing their abilities will contribute to developing the self-esteem they need, allowing them to stand out and be closer to finding their vocation. It`s not the ease for all that leads to success, what leads to success is reaching a balance that allows happiness.
I would like to conclude by reiterating the need for a more flexible education to accommodate all types of people, not only valuing and educating the rational and academic side, but developing the person as a whole. There are children with a lot of potential that function with an emotional intelligence, in an intuitive way or using their creativity. They need to learn how to manage their emotions in order to understand and process them correctly, and I think this could be taught at school. These children may end up working as economists, bankers, lawyers, politicians or doctors, but with their strengths developed they will have another motor directing them: they will have a more emotional and creative side that will help them lead teams. They will be more innovating and more human, more complete knowing how to apply their personal intelligence. Feeling alive is feeling capable and eager to participate in the creation of our future, and when you are aware that with your activity, however simple that may be, you are participating in this creation, you are contributing to building a better world. Educating more than just teaching, should be helping a person to develop integrally. With this type of education, a society with a high level of education will be a free society, supportive and respectful towards other ideas. When you appreciate a child`s potential you are teaching him to value himself. It is essential to grow up loving yourself in order to be able to love others.
I would like to finish with the word “Namasté¨. Being an educator, and above all, being a parent is the noblest job and the one that serves the most to our society. Gandhi used this word a lot to greet and I love to say it because when saying it, aware of its meaning, you recognize the singularity of the person you are speaking to, appreciating what he does best, appreciating his natural gifts in a massified world which systematically demands from us uniformity, and in which it is easy to forget that each one of us is unique.