Silvano Brunelli

Direttore per la ricerca del Centro Studi Podresca,
ricercatore, docente e formatore nei master per l’abilitazione alla docenza. 
Cofondatore di Scienze delle abilità umane, innovazione per la persona e la società, un sistema inedito di ricerca e formazione.

STEP ONE OF THE SCHOOL OF ABILITIES: 

HOW CHILDREN CAN DEVELOP PERSONAL ABILITIES

The School of Abilities is dedicated to the training and the development of personal skills that are necessary to mature a greater individual awareness. Individual awareness allows us to originate authentic choices, to conceive right intentions and positions, to develop high-quality relationships and has the indispensable tools to get the results and achieve the desired success.

The School of Abilities offers a study and many exercises to acquire the mastery, the control and the competence to stay in life and to originate from one’s own intimate nature.

The School of Abilities sustains and nourishes the formation of the personality in the school age, accompanying the student along his entire school path, from the age of seven to eighteen, supporting him with specific personal skills necessary to withstand the typical challenges of any evolutive age.

The School of Abilities is an innovative training course dedicated to curious and enterprising students who live in a family context of support and participation and have a strong need to emerge and a significative will to be emancipated. The central topics of the proposed study range from the complexity and the depth of the human nature to the safeguard of its wellbeing, from its expression and its growth and full realization; topics that are as vast as important, more and more at the centre of a mature and complex educational reality.

Every day we witness a somewhat paradoxical social dynamic: on one side we have an extraordinary and sudden development of the technical and scientific knowledge, on the other side this process does not seem to go hand in hand with the life skills that every individual could or should have.

The complexity that has to be faced in the developed world will increase because of the scientific and technological innovation, for which it’ll be required a continuous growth of cognitive skills. However, these skills are decreasing in the western world, where in addiction societies are becoming old with a decline in fluid intelligence and thus in capacity for innovation. Furthermore, the most educated and cognitively capable people usually have less children. It is unlikely that immigration could make up for this cognitive capability crisis, since only a minimum part of it is constituted by integrable human capital. Finally, natural resources are dropping, the climate is changing, and inequality is growing.” (An “Il Sole 24 ore” article)

It’s noticeable that personal skills are often insufficient and dramatically deficient in order to withstand the complexity of life. Emerging and burning problems within the couple, the family, with being a parent, between youngsters and last but not least in the school system and its ability to train students to face real life are all unequivocal, alarming signals that something has to be done, because what is being accomplished does not seem to be enough to slow the current decline, even less to stop it.

The increasing number of those issues pushes us to move from reflection to action, in order to apply targeted tools capable of building a better style and quality of life that are more related to today’s needs.

Families and schools should be joined by a project that supports them in the training of their children and youngsters’ life skills, working on relationship skills, expression skills, and general life competencies to gain autonomy and existential success.

The Western world has achieved an acculturation rate and a technological development like no other, allowing an extraordinary improvement of the quality of life. Our century was one of industrial development of such impact to be reasonably called Anthropocene, the era of the human being.

In a time when it is especially the human action to determine our planet’s dynamics, like globalisation, overpopulation, the crisis of climate and of energy sources, the exhaustion of phosphorus caused by intensive agriculture and much more, some behaviours and directions have arose and will demand extraordinary human responses to be overcome. This collective shift has brought to an asymmetrical development between the actual action power and the human interaction skills.

Under this increasing request for technical competencies in order to survive, families and schools that are called upon to train the people that will face first-hand all these issues, risk to break or to suffocate under the officiousness of the emerging difficulties.

Children will have to deal with a quite different world compared to the one inherited by their parents, mothers and fathers are struggling to transmit how to live correctly, because the world they know won’t exist anymore at the time when their children will have to conquer it.

We’re facing an epochal change: introducing the study of personal abilities is one of the positive and pro-active ways that we can adopt to deal with a more complex lifestyle for the new generations.

In this dense and congested times by many pressures, the Centro Studi Podresca brings a precious contribute: Human Abilities Sciences, a finely structured research aimed to support and emancipate individuals today. The School of Abilities, a fundamental piece of all our research, is specifically dedicated to youngsters. 

There are different ways to verify the effectiveness of a certain tool: the demonstration that satisfies me the most occurs when I see people trained over the years at the School of Abilities become adults and parents, and proudly bring their children to the same formation School. Winning the test of time and the generational transaction, the School of Abilities humanely and scientifically hits its main goals. 

What is the mission of the School of Abilities? And how do we intend to achieve it?

Family life and school learning can navigate safely in every sea, even the stormy ones of personal growth through the contemporary epochal changes only when the conscious individuality is seen and recognized, when the personality is able to express itself because equipped with appropriate tools in a supporting context, when the ability to interact in a complex way with others is guaranteed, when the skills of cohesion, affinity, membership, of summing our attention to that of others are taught, when we have the ability to face and go through a challenge, and when we’re so able to convey our intention to know how to join with the intentionality of another.

The School of Abilities is a project dedicated to the educational dimension and usually takes place in a two-days course, each  day with an eight-hour activity program. The annual cycle is made up of monthly theoretical-practical meetings. The daily schedule includes study lessons, various ability development exercises, recreational and artistical activities. Every course ends with an essay in which kids present their work to their parents.

Kids will also receive the certificate of attendance which can be attached to their study curriculum.

The School of Abilities plans and realizes positive experiences for its students, with tests and challenges designed to be successfully overcome. A similar training, that does not leave the result to chance, but follows and supports the student, can revolutionize the approach to life towards a higher satisfaction and a better balance. 

To gain and maintain an elevated existential condition it takes knowledge, attention, care, discipline and perseverance. Having a healthy body, good relationships, feeling good about ourselves, living in a context of support and safety are not obvious truths. For this reason, the School of Abilities is dedicated to human wealth: a precious legacy from which we always return to tap into. 

 

The School of Abilities accompanies the family and the school path into increasing  the study of the knowledge necessary to face life, opens a new personal enrichment to children and young people with new forms of learning and creative experimentation. 

In our society it is often not understood what the study and the growth of personal skills actually are. Many mistakenly believe that it is not necessary at all, considering the transmission by osmosis within the family bubble enough to mature full competence in life and mastery of the personal skills.

This was probably the case until some generations ago. During the last century things have suddenly changed and the number of personal skills and the complexity of the competences needed for a rich and successful life have grown dramatically. Not even the wealthy family or the achievement of an important study title are enough to build a happy life anymore, a life in which we experience our own completeness and personal satisfaction. 

During the presentation of the School of Abilities the most common question being asked in all possible variations by parents and teachers is the following: “What does it mean to study the person?”

This is our answer: “Studying the person means understanding the principles that regulate the well-being and the growth throughout life and relationships in an ethical context. It means providing the personality with the requirements to emerge, express, to feel accomplished in their family, work and society. 

It means knowing how to acquire the ability to gain and maintain in time the health and the balance of one’s own biological dimension, the strength and the beauty of the body, knowing how to choose a proper nutrition and building habits for a healthy lifestyle.

Studying the person means being able to create, maintain and develop good relationships: it means knowing how to make a deal, how to welcome the other’s point of view, to understand his/her intention and to let understand our own, to give and to receive, to interact with mastery in order to obtain the result without being harmful, without having to tap into the dark side of our humanity and thus without using deception, manipulation, lies, stealing or to betray the promises and the deals made with others.

It means being able to establish a communication capable of producing understanding, being able to deal with divergence and put the ability of collaboration above an egoistic vision and before the necessity of being right. It means knowing hot to handle mistakes without falling into the trap of retaliation, into the attempt of making feel wrong those who naturally run into mistakes. 

Studying the person means knowing how to discriminate within ourselves and others the conscious component: a higher knowledge of ourselves, of our own conscious individuality and peculiar expression are fundamental to be able to sort the growing complexity of information with different logics and purposes. Without a higher consciousness the use of information and technology becomes dangerous and misleading.

Studying the person means knowing how to inhabit our living environment: respecting it, lowering pollution, properly using the huge naturalistic potential and contributing constructively to the environment produced by man.

Studying the person means being able to protect our dignity and the respect for our own uniqueness and diversity, to be aware of being able to feel and obtain esteem, pride, ethics, vitality for the pleasure of living.

Studying the person means awakening and maintaining a high level of humanity capable of keeping that interior integrity, apparently invisible, that makes us feel and live like a good person, a person happy about him/herself, that feels good with him/herself, with others and the world.

Studying the person means knowing what the human mind is and how it works, at least in some of its basic components like decisions, values, behaviour, feelings, emotions, pain, problems and their solution; it means knowing how to create and implement a project, hot to know, remember, expose our knowledge, motivation, involvement, creativity and how to recognize and overcome the challenges in life.

The School of Abilities teaches us to dedicate ourselves to the study of personal skills that allow us to donate to our lives an extra beauty in response to the uniqueness and the preciousness that every life has in itself.”

The School of Abilities has noble goals of great value that can be summarized in a single concept: helping kids and young people to acquire life competences and become wonderful people capable of living an emancipated, autonomous and happy life. 

This goal is pursued by achieving several specific tasks, of which five are the principal:

  1. Offering kids knowledge about emerging themes: relationships, the mind, emotions, choices, the individual and self-awareness, sexuality, personality formation, being a student.
  2. Developing relationship skills: expressing ourselves, communicating to comprehend and to be comprehended, collaborating with others, giving and receiving in a balanced and fair way, developing “clean” and strong relationships.
  3. Supporting the development of children’s personality: understanding the nature of the will, rediscovering the importance of values, increasing the intensity of our attention, maturing the operational capabilities that allow us to achieve results in life.
  4. Dedicating care and attention to the individual, to the self-awareness: placing our attention to ourselves and to others as individuals, we nurture and are nurtured by respect, dignity, values, unconditional love. These are all ingredients not to be forgotten in the formation of young people.
  5. Sharing formative moments in group life, full of care in relationships, respect for the individual and spontaneous love towards the environment and everything.

The School of Abilities develops its strategies leveraging on some fundamental study topics, real master walls that support its formative structure. The first topic is personality and the psychology that governs it, an incredibly rich and interesting world to explore. Points of view, subjective interpretation of reality, thoughts, creative ideas, choices, attitudes, beliefs, sensations, emotions, self-perception, esteem, the ways of being and much more.

Another main topic, that we deal with continuously and thoroughly, concerns the identity of the student: the authentic motivation to learning, the involvement in various disciplines, the specificity of every single student, the relationship with evaluation, the right ambitions, the challenges, how to expose the assimilated knowledge, how to build a speech, the meaning of discipline, the value of the application of learned skills and personal will.

The theme that explores the body is also studied, which is fundamental especially for adolescents who must deal with the alchemy of their transformation and expression of their gender identity. Health is an indispensable asset to actively take care of through nutrition, physical exercise and a good balance between rest and activities.

Another topic that the School of Abilities routinely deals with are relationship skills: developing relationship skills is one of the pillars of education, also because today a big percentage of the problems turns out to be precisely constituted by the difficulty of the relationship. In a systematic and complete way, children face a path to understand the nature and functioning of relationships and to develop their relationship skills.

The theme that is absolutely the extraordinary peculiarity of this high education School is the study and the development of the conscious individuality. 

Individual is a word that derives from Latin and it means “not divisible” and it refers to the most intimate and essential, I could say irreducible part of everyone that feels and knows to exist. Self-awareness is, in fact, not divisible and is characterised by the property of choosing. The individual cannot be constrained, bound, forced. Emerging in its uniqueness through its own dominants is implicit in its nature. 

The study proposed to children and teenagers is completed by an inedited series of skills suitable for achieving all the necessary competences for a life of success. 

Life is structured in universal mechanisms and models: knowing them and knowing how to handle them with due skills really makes the difference. Life, its nature, its functioning, its evolution… are attractive and fascinating themes for the younger ones. Many desire the opportunity to receive the right indications and the most refined tools at an early age. 

My body, my thoughts, my friends, the world around me… how do they work?

How can everything work better?

Another central study concerns the analysis of important relationships. We have ascertained that the interior models that generate the answers, the behaviours and the choices in one’s own present and future relationships, and therefore the logics of interpreting oneself and the other, are defined from one’s central relationships. The ways one interacts with the others, once took on, perpetuate themselves over the years. From time to time the contexts and the contents change, but the basic modalities that mark the character traits of a person remain constant.

In today’s culture relationship skills play an increasingly decisive role: it is both a vehicle for fulfilment and success, and a source of frustration and suffering. The necessity to have good relationships is increasingly felt and finding appropriate answers in the intricate relational world is always more urgent.

Consequently, pausing to study the nature and the functioning of relationships, knowing them and discovering how to live them optimally is undoubtedly of immense importance. 

The ability to understand and to be understood, for example, is a central tool in affective relationships, in the school formation and in all the other interpersonal exchanges. We often hover over that ability or we take it for granted, we simply expect the kid to be spontaneously good at things. We wanted to make it a subject of study to further enhance it.

A relationship is an exchange that occurs between two or more people: something of mine reaches the other, and something of the other reaches me. Such interaction has the power to influence in a certain measure both me and the other. What I give and what I receive are part of a living process that is constantly mutating, a continuous unpredictable metamorphosis. 

The exchange between us and the others is composed by many elements: words, emotions, gestures, attitudes, intentions, judgments, impressions, moods, physical contact, perception of oneself and the other. An optimally functioning exchange creates a condition of reciprocate welcoming and acceptance, it produces comprehension, knowledge, pleasure of sharing and a general sense of well-being. 

A complex mechanism can perfectly function if it’s not disturbed, but often just a little mistake is enough for the desired result to be missing. Similarly, relationships are sufficiently complex and delicate to be able to operate with astonishing results; yet they can easily decay until the condition in which the relationship with others is endured, denied or finally interrupted.

Children and teenagers can study that wonderful mechanism in depth and make it their own, just as they understand school subjects. Relationship skills are the main tool through which all the school career flows: getting hold of such knowledge overwhelmingly determines a student’s formative path regardless of his/her intelligence and the support context.

The ability to relate spontaneously gained over the course of one’s life is an ability susceptible to improvement. Knowledge, attention and care drive not only all the cognitive processes, but also all the interpersonal relationships in a constructive direction.

Original exercises also allow us  to directly experiment the studied principles and to make them our own.

The School of Abilities is rich in practical workshops, artistic exercises and experiences. The experimentation program has the task of completing the study path. Combining theory and practice is one of the winning strategies of the School: a creative interchange offers infinite possibilities to “stay in the knowledge”, that is to experience knowledge in a guided but fun way. The student has the time to absorb, elaborate, make his/her own and fixate in memory what is been understood.

The time dedicated to artistic and recreative expressions gives a touch of liveliness and helps to create a climate in which one learns with pleasure. Art, as an expression and an enrichment of the human spirit, is an inseparable part of a multifaceted personality.

The practical and creative aspect is a permanent companion of the formal study in the SDA, therefore the creative workshop pleasantly and originally completes the study path. 

The theme of the course is applied immediately with exercises in communication, attention, concentration, relation, with postures, relaxation, artistic expressions, life experiences, volunteering, outdoor activities, naturalistic walks, group games…

The creative workshop offers precious opportunities to experience school subjects in both a useful and fun way: pieces of history, geography elements, linguistic and artistic skills come to play to complete the research undertaken. The programmed activities represent a significative contribute to the assimilation process of an efficient study method, as well as to the increase in the ability to expose the knowledge gained. 

In the School of Abilities peer relationship is a means of learning. Communication exercises for children and teenagers have demonstrated to be very effective. The pleasure of speaking inherent in everyone favours motivation to personal growth. Simple rules make communication complete, clear and clean: one speaks, and one listens. The absence of interruption gives rise to a broader understanding of oneself and the other. A sequence of questions guides the speech in order to produce more clarity of thought on the subject of study and on oneself. To answer in a personal way to well formulated questions, opens the young mind to deep intuitions and to a broader view of reality, and leads to taking a stand with respect to the knowledge acquired. The communication technique for two is currently the most appreciated tool for the enhancement of relationship skills and the harmonious development of personality. 

The skill acquired in the exercises is then naturally expressed also in daily life. 

The School of Abilities follows a defined and structured study path with the precise intention to turn on and acquire the individual skills that are useful and necessary for each developmental age. On these bases we then develop customized programs tailored to the unique or specific needs for each class and each individual. 

The eight-lesson cycle that is here presented, was conceived and developed to accompany students to complete their first-year education (6/7 years) in conjunction with their entry to primary school. The eight study units consist of two-day intensive courses throughout the year and are conducted in the style of academies or residential colleges.

In this article I will present the program of the first year of study. Each study unit follows a sequence of skills necessary for the maturation of the primary purpose of the lesson.

First Lesson: The identity of the student

Second Lesson: Give an order to your life

Third Lesson: The principles of communication

Forth Lesson: The cycle of communication

Fifth Lesson: Programming time

Sixth Lesson: Friendship

Seventh Lesson: To give and to receive

Eight Lesson: Learning from results

 

Correlations and special relationships between abilities

-The identity of the student is directly proportional to the ability to both get results and learn from them to grow as a person.

-The ability to communicate is at the base of a correct and harmonious ability to sort out life.

-The cycle of communication becomes the base to build high-quality relationships, fertile soil for a correct programming.

-The ability to give and to receive becomes a tool to build solid friendships of great value.

-Finally, there is a strong triangulation, very useful to study, between the identity of the student, the ability to learn from results and elevating and sorting out life. 

 

In the first year of study of the School of Abilities we invite children and teenagers to experiment creative researches and experiences. The body, the mind, the feelings, the relationships, the environment transform themselves in original lessons, full of explanations and examples. Daily aspects that we usually live with simplicity, become topics to be investigated and penetrated acutely.

Our method is to experiment everything in many different ways, gaining useful understanding, stances and taking new points of view.

We therefore go into the study of the man in a truly original way, in step with the times!

Children receive many stimuli through relationships, information and experiences and are invited to elaborate their own positions after having experimented them.

Only the information that is personally applied and added to a stance makes the information an ability and the children a possessor of that ability.

The School of Abilities represents an invite to all active students that have not given up on building their own lives with skills; it’s a special occasion for the best students, for gifted teenagers, for all those who aspire to new knowledge of themselves and others. 

The School of Abilities is a project aimed at children and teenagers eager to undertake a thorough study of the person and life with an innovative method. It’s an ideal answer to the families that live a remarkable sensitivity to improving the quality of life, to the safeguard of the environment and the human dimension, putting the individual at the centre.

In a special way it is an invite to students that excel in one or more disciplines and aspire to a refinement from a human point of view.

The School of Abilities is a meeting point for students with skills and eager to emerge as people.

The School of Abilities also valorises and significantly improves school study by enriching it with new components.

With the prospect of following and supporting school formation, we have formulated a proposal for elementary, middle and high schools. Lessons and workshops developed within the School of Abilities can also be made or thought in the classroom in the desired number of hours.

The school can also ask for a specific program tailored to one or more classes.

 

 

Traduzione a cura di Enrico Tedesco.