Our Western countries seem to have gotten education all wrong, teaching to the test, standardized qualifications, and knowledge of facts being the primary focus. The all important ability to discuss and empathize has been lost, and our modern world is shattered into divisions that seem unbreachable. Many teachers work very hard to support and empower their students, but the system is against them, the system is broken.
At the beginning of 2020, Empatharian Movement for Peace was born, a new incarnation of a dance language that had been developed for 45 years by its founder, who passed away in 2015. With a background in psychology and teaching, Lolo Lesser, her daughter, re-created Empatharian as a movement meditation, with words that inspire and offer emotional and spiritual expression, calmness and empathy.
Using movement in the school curriculum is not a new thing. Catholic schools have been using “Prayer Motion” to help children embody the sacredness of the prayers and songs in the curriculum, and it’s been a great tool for teachers to help decrease stress and improve focus (http://www.prayermotion.com/).
American Sign Language has been used in pre-school through elementary classrooms with great results: “This physical movement engages students’ bodies as well as their brains, giving them a more intensive and multi-sensory learning experience. In addition, the physical involvement in learning pays off. Studies show that when words are presented orally, visually, and kinesthetically (through sign language), students’ scores on vocabulary tests are significantly higher than their non-signing peers. (https://www.signingtime.com/sign-language-curriculum-for-teachers-and-homeschoolers/)
Empatharian differs from Prayer Motion, in that it is non-religious, non-denominational, and embraces individual expression, in addition to the meditations done in unison.
Empatharian differs from American Sign Language because it is aimed at universal intuitive understanding, a universal sign language. According to Google: “There is no universal sign language. Different sign languages are used in different countries or regions. For example, British Sign Language (BSL) is a different language from ASL, and Americans who know ASL may not understand BSL.” There are as many sign languages as there are spoken languages.
Empatharian unites the world in gestures.
Empatharian incorporates some American sign language gestures, but also Hawaiian Hula gestures, Indian sign language gestures, and a bit of New Zealand Haka. It is specifically meant to have no national cultural look or feel, rather expressing each person’s culture, as they do it. Empatharian evolves as The Empatharian Council approves and changes the language to better express and communicate intuitively.
The Empatharian Peace Arts Training is a curriculum including tools of poetry, improvisational art, and circle time sharing, as well as individual private journal processes. Conflict resolution skills, non-violent communication, emotional literacy and individual storytelling skills are included in the syllabus, a year long plan for 2 meetings per week, 1 hour per meeting. The program is a physical education, integrated arts, and health curriculum that goes beyond most classroom teaching because it’s interactive, structured and yet creative for the children as well as the teachers involved.
Some schools are now teaching and implementing sitting meditation with children, and this is excellent. Empatharian doesn’t compete with sitting meditation practice, but enhances it, and for the many children that cannot do sitting meditation, this movement meditation practice is perfect for them. The children who do sitting meditation will excel at this work, and love it, also.