Why I updated Joyful Movement
The following is the preface to the newly expanded Joyful Movement (from 100+ to 150+ pages) If there is one aspect of Christopherus’ work that I really wish to get out into the world, it is this. Please—if you know any new parents, grandparents, providers of child care, teachers, doctors or therapists who you feel would be open to what it contains, do let them know about this book. Modern children are in grave danger from what passes as normal in our society—please help spread the message that actually, the Emperor has no clothes on.
In the ten years since I wrote Joyful Movement, the challenges facing families, and children in particular, have multiplied. Economics and expectations of what adult life is ‘supposed’ to look like mean that very few children are raised at home with a parent always present, which is a foundation of security and consistency so needed by children.
My sons were the last generation of children to grow up without being surrounded by screens. As they entered their teens, they occasionally used a computer for limited purposes and a second-hand X-box once or twice made its way home from a garage sale. Phones were things that hung on the wall in the kitchen or sat on a side-table in the living room—they were not an item one adorned oneself with like putting on one’s shoes or a jacket. Our television had a cloth over it and with no aerial, only got a few channels—sometimes.
Today it is considered normal to give a child as young as eight their own phone, allowing them access to the internet—and it to them. Babies can be observed using a swiping motion across books as their experience has been with screens, not pages.‘Friends’ are people who ‘like’ what one does on social media, not ﬂesh and blood companions with all their faults, hardships, joys and challenges.
Yet there are many people—and not just old fogeys like me—who are starved for meaningful community and who question the role of technology and social media in the lives of their children. And—this is the point of Joyful Movement—are looking for health-enhancing ways to meet their children’s developmental needs, something that screen-based technology does not and cannot do.
I am now writing with a sense of urgency, of real concern for a generation of children that are over-vaccinated, surrounded by screens, starved of meaningful (as opposed to stage-managed by adults) experiences of Nature and who live during a point in history which later generations might well characterize by its culture of lying and fear. Modern educators do like to talk about holistic education, but this is a travesty when it is not based in a recognition of the human being as a being of a spiritual nature. ‘Holistic’ cannot be such if its essential foundation is missing.
This new edition of Joyful Movement is more militant and far less conciliatory than its predecessor. Childhood is under threat as a stage of life even as human society exists under the shadow of constant war, gross economic imbalance and environmental destruction. An entire stage of human life is denigrated—the word ‘child’ is seen as an insult, with children referred to as ‘young people’ or even as ‘young adults’.
Yet at the same time, if one goes on the internet to research the term ‘adolescence,’ one will come across scores of scholarly articles written by psychologists,educators and doctors putting forward the notion that adolescence lasts from age 10 to 24. Twenty-four! What parent wants a 24-year old adolescent! Yet many wind up with precisely that as those young adults, as children, did not have their needs met. Early learning, day care, high pressure academics, overly scheduled lives…the list goes on as children are shunted through childhood with parental and societal eyes always to that elusive goal of (ﬁll in the blanks) the right job… the right college… the right spouse… the right bank balance… the right car… and hardly ever to the slow process of each individual emerging, over time, in her own RIGHT way. Which includes a long childhood where she is treated as and honored as a child.
May Joyful Movement be one small contribution, like the rest of our work with Christopherus, to a way of understanding the needs of children as they unfold on their long, long journey towards true independence and freedom. I hope that each of you will ﬁnd that Joyful Movement helps foster a healthy and nurturing homelife—and may I quickly add that as it is ﬁrmly rooted in the reality of my Anglo-American family constellation, that those of you from other cultural backgrounds will hopefully add your own songs, verses and games which are rooted in your family backgrounds. It is not the songs and verses themselves that are necessarily important—it is the type of songs and verses, the type of games and ﬁnger-plays. And if you have another tradition to call from, I sincerely hope that you do!