In accordance with the principles of liberal education, Petar Dunov creates a revolutionary educational concept by implementing Paneurhythmy in school
Petar Dunov about liberal education
Liberal education comes as a result of trust in everything good and elevated hidden in the nature of a child.
The most important method remains the love of the teacher for the student, because love for one transforms into love for all.
We shouldn’t force child’s nature, but must leave it to freely express its deep essence. If the education and upbringing of the child is externally liberal, but is not in harmony with the nature of the child, this is forcing the child.
At the start of education, the child already has an idea of good and evil. Doing good is not foreign. Just guidance is enough.
Liberal education doesn`t mean that discipline, order and punctuality are absent from school, but that they are all applied voluntarily. Freedom and discipline do not exclude each other only on conditions of love. Art is where discipline and freedom coexist.
If in contemporary education the musical and rhythmical exercises of Paneurhythmy are implemented, children will be able to achieve much more.
(“The Teacher about Education” (1943), prepared by his follower Boian Boev)
Paneurhythmy in School
In 1940 the minister of education Boris Yotsov decreed that Paneurhythmy exercises are conducted every morning in all schools. An observation in the schools and kindergartens took place. In 1943, following a ministry decree, 60 teachers received physical education training. They studied rhythmics and Paneurhythmy exercises. Morning gymnastics with Paneurhythmy exercises were started after the war. We may rightfully say that with this began morning gymnastics at school, which made two Bulgarian generations healthier.
Scientific Grounding for the Educational Concepts of Petar Dunov
Art-based Education in the European Experimental Schools
During the first decades of the 20th century in many countries of Western Europe an overall reform of school and education was carried out.
In the program for liberal education of the initiators of “education through art” in Germany (Petersen, Sharelmann, Zacaring, Steiner, and others - more…) the following is emphasized: Human`s inborn need for movement; development of both physical and spiritual strength of the child; elevated mood and positive emotions; expression and confirmation of good; development of fantasy and imagination. The main distinctive features of this pedagogical system are individuality, liberty, and creativity in the activity of both teacher and student, humanism. The personality of the child is the center around which the entire educational work is performed.
England also has its reformers, who organized “new schools”. B. Russell, A. Nale, J. Badly and others emphasize on creating a school that “suits the child, instead a child that suits the school”. According to them an environment of love must be created, so that the sense of beauty and emotion in children is satisfied, so that they are motivated in various activities and games, so that their personality becomes sociable, all because education relates to the entire human being, to each side of its nature, and should not ignore even single one of its needs and wants. Learning should come not only from books and formal lessons, but also from personal experience at school and also beyond its walls, the main goal being the formation of personality and character.
E. Castle makes the conclusion: “The purpose of our experiment was to demonstrate that there cannot be a logical separation between moral, intellectual and esthetical activity. The main purpose of education is enrichment of personality through development of individual skills, which are related to knowledge, feelings, aspirations, and perception”. (Castle. E. B. People in School. Heinemann, 1953, p.45)
Experimental schools, which are first organized in the first decades of the 20th century and elaborate the ideas of liberty, activities, creativity, self-expression, emotionality, interests, and individual approach, may be considered as “new” educational systems. They lay the foundation for new models of education, many of which find their place in large-scale education.
Only the Waldorf Schools of Steiner, which are based on liberal education, operate today: during the year 2003, 1,600 kindergartens and 630 schools are open in Europe, 150 in North America, and about 100 in other countries. Steiner had the goal to uncover one’s hidden abilities with the help of eurhythmy exercises, music, plays, meditation, etc. According to Steiner, a teacher must educate himself and consciously create an image of spiritual peace; he should come to know himself in order to be able to lead the rising generation; his soul mingling with the one of the child, spiritualizing it. Eurhythmy, which is recitation through movement (music plus movement), must be intuitively grasped. Education is based on exploring the personality of every individual participant. Eurhythmy and working with materials of nature is conducted indoors. ( Í. Áîÿäæèåâà, Âúçïèòàíèå ÷ðåç èçêóñòâî. Ïúðâèòå äåñåòèëåòèÿ íà ÕÕ âåê, 1994)
Scientific Research Concerning Paneurhythmy Training, from the Point of View of Contemporary Educational Theories
According to P. Dunov, the mission of the school is to create a being of love, the most important method for this being the love of the teacher for the student; order, punctuality, and discipline, are all applied voluntarily.
The pedagogical system which P. Dunov offers is grounded on the following basic components:
1. Trust in good and the nobility hidden in the character of the child and conformity of education and upbringing to the nature of the child, so that its deep inner essence is revealed.
2. Providing joyful environment for the educational process, so that the energies of the body, mind, heart and will are revived, inner balance and harmony are preserved, and love is developed.
3. Music - a primary educational factor for ennoblement of the human character. Even the most self-willed children may be educated through music.
4. Nature - a natural, joyful, attractive and favorite environment for children. Contact with nature - a practical lesson for the child. The senses and the body are exercised, receiving abundant material to develop imagination, memory, thoughts, feelings, and will.
Why is implementing Paneurhythmy enough to develop children’s potential, while preserving the organizational structure of the school?
The education through movement and music in Paneurhythmy, where by mastering gesture the coordination of movement is improved, and the sense of rhythm is developed, shows how with little effort all thinking faculties can be stimulated, concentration is improved, hearing abilities are developed, self-control is activated, and conditions for maintaining good health are established.
Positive, relaxing and cheerful songs create an environment preferred by children, in which they may associate with their classmates, realizing their desires for cooperation and friendliness.
A moral self-identification is present, because children feel more relaxed and filled with goodness; the state of comfort enjoyed by the children within the group maintains their self-esteem and enriches the concept children have about themselves. In this way a child has the chance to form a positive self-image, and being supported by the environment, to develop its potential. (V. Matanova, Third Scientific Conference “Paneurhythmy as a System for Harmonious Development of Man and Society, C, 2005)
Opportunities for personal expression and contentment have positive influence on the interpersonal relations. In this way aggression levels are lowered naturally and a peaceful environment is provided, so that teachers are able to present the study material in a better setting. And with this children`s motivation to participate in the teaching process is increased.
Paneurhythmy exercises help them to be more satisfied and happy, in the sense of self-contentment, more energetic, optimistic, enthusiastic, joyful, and healthier. They have the chance to always get out of a given situation, to find an opportunity to solve their problems. This is an integral indicator for the activation of resourcefulness, inventiveness, ability to combine and adaptability in children. (N. Boiadjieva, Third Scientific Conference “Paneurhythmy as a System for Harmonious Development of Man and Society, C., 2005)
Pleasant music and richness of images in the texts of songs, which relate to nature and its inalterable laws, give strength to the child, because every day the sun caresses it, birds sing, flowers give their odor, and to witness all of this independently, the child must go out. Extensive research shows an increase in psychological endurance and enrichment in visual thinking, imagination and the different ways to experience. This result is extremely valuable with such abundance of aggressive models of behavior in the media and society, which flood the minds of children.
Children are excited to participate in exercises in the park, expeditions and summer schools in the mountain, because they don’t just go for a walk, but re-experience in a new way what they like to do. In this way their hunger for nature is satisfied and they prove that they can overcome hardships during the expeditions. Experienced and capable, they return to school.
Paneurhythmy exercises allow children to have “their own space” at school, because the teacher, forming part of the circle, has the task only to create conditions, in which they may experience the activities of childhood in a joyful, emotionally charged environment, where every child has an opportunity to express itself. On the other hand, they receive support from an adult and the opportunity to learn from others’ experience in life. But all of this is not possible if love for the child is absent, this being an important condition in liberal education, according to P. Dunov.
All of this defines Paneurhythmy exercises as an “overall approach towards education, directed to form attitudes for a healthy way of living, related to physical activity, communion with nature, non aggressive behavior within the group, respect and love towards peers and relatives”. (G. Kubratova, Second Scientific Conference “Paneurhythmy as a System for Harmonious Development of Man and Society, C, 2003)
Our experience shows how application of Paneurhythmy exercises (continued for 4 years) with children, who used to experience high levels of anxiety and aggression, make it possible to change their attitude, because at school they receive emotional support and moral guidance, which allow them to achieve healthy and ecologically sound behavior in a natural way and develop skills to make choices in critical circumstances and during struggles of motivation.
Today, 60 years later, with the program “Health through Movement in Nature” Bulgaria has its successful model of liberal education and contribution to the contemporary pedagogical theory and practice.
(A. Yankova, The program “Health through Movement in Nature” with Paneurhythmy exercises - pedagogical method for healthy, pedagogical and integrated education with practical and interdisciplinary approach, C., 2006)