Add new comment

I was about to doze off on a lazy early Sun. evening when my ears perked as Adele Diamond mentioned the Native American talking stick. About twenty years ago when my youngest of 5 children reached the age of 5, I learned a sharing method and then taught it for our local mental health assn. It was called "Magic Circle", and we always used a "talk ticket", usually a plush animal that the speaker would hold. We taught children in a noninvasive way to share their thoughts and feelings on previously planned simple topics, like "my favorite time of day" or "something beautiful to me". After each child had an opportunity to share, we would go round the circle a 2nd time, so each could share something h/she heard.
We would use the 5 Magic Circle rules, which had hand motions. They include: Everyone gets a turn; It's ok to skip your turn; Everyone gets equal time; Everyone gets listened to and There are no put downs.
Magic Circle worked so well with elementary children, and the training of leaders is so beneficial for the adults who take it. We actually adapted it in various ways. One adaptation we called Discovery Circle, and used in nursing homes and places where seniors gathered. In another adaptation, I taught it to high school students, who then went to the local middle or elementary schools to do it with smaller kids.
I believe the skills were life changing to all who were involved. I wanted so badly to do a research project to demonstrate its value, but of course the time and money were not available.
So often we are not allowed to just enjoy listening to each other; I found that both adults and children often learned through Circle to identify and express their feelings - one of our trained adults did circle with deaf children, for whom identifying feelings was particularly difficult.
Looking back, I know my involvement in circle changed my life and that of my family. I often use skills I learned there, especially in small group settings, like chairing 12 step meetings or a bible study I do at our local jail. Somehow the guys who come to bible study know we really do value their thoughts.
My youngest daughter, who was one of the high schools students involved in our circle project with younger children is now the movement and dance specialist for a non profit preschool organization with a number of locations. I know her "magic" skills are still in use.
One other thing I heard A. Diamond say was right at the end of your interview. She mentioned how we give so little credit to many who work with children and disabled, have great skill and common sense that goes unrecognized because they are not necessarily well educated. My daughter sees this in her work with the wonderful child care people at the centers where she teaches kids and teachers, who then repeat what they've learned with the children after she goes on to the next unit.
My son in law, a psychologist also brought this home to me. He works with teens and young adults who are
in foster care because of their severe mental illnesses. He is often the liason between the psychiatrist and his foster moms, who he believes have an amazing capacity to know what their charges need.