Gentle Teaching is a teaching approach. It has four teaching purposes:
- To teach students to feel safe,
- To teach students to feel loved,
- To teach students to be engaged,
- To teach students to show gentleness and love to each other.
These purposes are achieved through using repeated words of affection, eye contacts and acts of gentleness and love towards students.
The main idea of gentleness is not to get rid of students’ behaviors but to deepen their own inner feelings of gentleness in the face of their possible violent behaviors.
The Psychology of Interdependence
Gentle Teaching is an approach based on the Psychology of Interdependence that sees that the differences among us should bring about a feeling of companionship and community.
The Psychology of Interdependence is based on the following basic assumptions:
- Each human being is made up of a mind-body-spirit.
- Each human being hungers for a feeling of being-with-others and having a feeling of companionship.
- Bonded relations are fundamental for developing human basic values into a moral life and into personal life goals.
It is the teacher’s role to create a classroom environment where students help each other so that each one can develop deep feelings of companionship with others and basic values to lead a moral life. This kind of environment can enrich learning and lead to setting quality personal life goals.
Everyone needs to have companions in life. Without companions, you feel lost and isolated. Students with violent behaviors might have learned not to trust others or even have learned to be afraid of others. They don’t have companions they can trust. So, they need to learn the feeling of companionship from the beginning and they need to have a warm circle of significant others in their lives who help them to feel safe, wanted and valued.
The basis for learning is a feeling of trust and safety with others. If we don’t feel safe with others, we will not learn from them and we will not be able to live in peace with them. This explains why gentle teaching is so important for many violent students who don’t feel safe and connected with others.
Gentle teaching focuses on teaching students to share the feeling of companionship with their classmates. This feeling can strengthen their feeling of self-worth and build bonded relations with others. These relations can increase their feelings of belongingness and improve their inner contentment.
When a student feels safe and connected to others, he will participate in the community and social life. Then, we can help him learn and develop the skills he may need for living a better life.
The Quality of Life
Everybody is dreaming of living the Quality Life that fits with him. To live a quality life, we should achieve a kind of balance between our basic values and the degree to which we achieve our personal goals and expectations.
The Eight Basic Values
1. Bodily Integrity
Healthy, being decently clothed, being clean, being well-fed, etc.
2. Feeling Safe
Wanting to be with others, not being afraid of people with whom we live, not being afraid to go outside, feeling relaxed in interactions with others, etc.
3. Feeling Self-Worth
Seeing oneself a good, being recognized person, feeling pride, expressing personal gifts and talents.
4. Having a Life Structure
Sensing a life-plan, having a daily routine, having our own rituals and beliefs.
5. A Sense of Belongingness
Having a close circle of friends, loving others and being loved by others, having a home, feeling companionship.
Being able to have contact with the community, living between others, partaking in community life.
7. Having meaningful daily activities
Enjoying one’s daily activities, having activities that fit in our life-plan.
8. Inner Contentment
Feeling inner harmony, free from traumatic experiences.
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