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What Is Somatic Education for Children? by Susan Kramer

'soma' = body
somatic education = learning through body-mind integration

Illustration by Susan Kramer
Texts in the Rhythmic Movement Dance Series embody my definition of somatic education. Through exercises presented, the student learns somatically - assimilating through the body's motion and natural senses - the ways that apply to learning academic concepts.

From birth we take in the environment through our senses and interact bodily and mentally to communicate our needs.

All through life we communicate bodily to express emotions and thoughts; it is generally known that 70% of communication is non-verbal - through bodily gestures and postures. We cry tears from our body when we are very sad or very happy. We hug our dear ones to show our caring feelings. Illustration by Susan KramerWe build houses from ideas begun in our creative mind, sorted out with our logical mind into sets of plans, before building structures using our physical bodies in motion.

As we grow and begin talking and walking we learn through bodily motion to coordinate gross and small motor skills needed to read and write; our brain hemispheres integrate their specialized areas of reception and storage; academic subjects are integrated in a flowing sequential time line. As with any muscle or ability, the more it is used the stronger and more capable it becomes to assimilate more and more; the motor skills ever an integration of body to mind and mind to body for action.

Body to mind through the senses -
kinesthetic, sight, hearing, touch
powered by enthusiastic, spirited energy

Illustration by Susan Kramer

What Is Somatic Education for Children? and illustrations copyright 2001-2011 Susan Kramer
Santa Barbara, California USA
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Published by
Rhythmic Movement Dance Series

Susan Helene Kramer is an international author of more than 50 collections and a thousand articles on ballet, rhythmic movement, modern dance, somatic education, music, ballet, philosophy, relationships, social issues and meditation, yoga and practical spirituality for children, teens, adults and those challenged with some translations in Dutch, French, German, and Spanish, and with her husband, Stan Schaap- resides in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

From an internet link
Edward W. Maupin, Ph.D., wrote a paper titled "Somatic Education: its Origins, Ancestors, and Prospects"; March 1998.
Dr. Maupin gave permission to link his paper to this web site. Here is an excerpt, but click on his link for the entire article:

"Multi-Sensory Learning
At Esalen we spoke of "affective education" to distinguish it from ordinary conceptual and logical learning. Part of the impact was due to engaging the body as well as (or even rather than) the mind. Since then there has come to be a remarkable amount of information about different kinds of learning and the functions they involve. Jung's typology based on the four functions of thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition has been useful. Neuro-Linguistic Programming identified individual differences in the use of different sensory systems, such as the visual, the auditory, or the kinaesthetic. Later the differing "learning styles" favored by different learners received attention, especially as it became clear that students attracted into the study of Somatic Therapy were sometimes not adept in conventional academic skills, even when they were talented for somatic work. More recently Howard Gardner has proposed "Multiple Intelligences." Different kinds of learning require different sets of functions. Somatically based education seems well placed to take these differences into account and to design trainings which appeal to many aspects of the learner." End of quote.

Books for teaching toddlers to teens by Susan Kramer
page created August 24, 2001; updated March 31, 2011