CC writes: “I attended a workshop for early childhood ed and the presenter urged us all to change our curriculums to really emphasize a nature/environmental focus by bringing the outdoors inside and continue with lessons and experiences continuously taking the kids’ lead in areas of interest. She used words like POSITIVE ENGERGY in the classroom and even showed how to arrange it using lights and shadows and organizing materials using specific colors in a color pattern; also bringing in a couch, stones and water fountains instead of tables and desks. I couldn’t stand being there because it felt like a new age atmosphere. We were silent for awhile. She asked us what we thought almost like she was hoping for a positive response. Do I have reason to be concerned or am I overreacting?”
I would definitely be concerned about this.
What really popped out at me was her insistence on the arrangement of the room’s furnishings to create “positive energy”. This is Feng Shui, (pronounced feng shway) which is a form of Chinese divination. It is a superstitious practice based on the Taoist belief that the earth is alive and filled with “chi” – which is the energy she is referring to. (This energy has no scientific substantiation, by the way.) As this blog explains, Feng Shui is used to determine which areas of a building have positive and negative energies and how to arrange furnishings, colors, etc. to create the right “vibe.”
The Catechism is quite clear that we are not to engage in any form of divination (see no. 2116) so it would not be acceptable for you to incorporate these practices into the classroom.
I also question why a presenter is allowed to introduce Taoist religious practices into her curriculum suggestions. What about the so-called “separation of church and state” that is used so heavy-handedly to quelch all mention of Christian beliefs in our schools? Some people really do believe that this only applies to Christianity but it doesn’t and this presenter needs to be informed of this before someone hauls her into court.
It’s impossible for me to comment on why she wants to bring more of a natural/environmental element into the classroom. She may simply wish to make this more interesting to children, who naturally love the outdoors. But because of her penchant for Feng Shui, and her audacity in so overtly incorporating it into her curriculum, I would definitely wonder if she practices some kind of “green” religion or eco-spirituality which is very popular among New Agers.
If I were you, I would look into whatever organization sponsored this workshop and if you see anything New Age, at the very least, stop attending their workshops and let them know why. It may be the only way to stop them from introducing religious-themed material into classrooms without the express consent of the parents.