This project started in 1994 and since then has reached many hundreds of people in Spain (Barcelona) and England (London and other venues).
‘A time for Childhood’ involves striving for a new awareness of children, supporting the search for new ways of living, and developing a creative approach to working with adults, in group work, individual or couple conversations.
Lourdes Callen facilitates this work with the support of Rainer Bauer and
a network of friends, contributors and organisers that with their interest bring this work to others increasing its possibilities and meaning.
Conscious of the challenges of the times in which we are living, our interest is to discover the new possibilities that are opening up for us. We endeavour to work in tune with spiritual values, which widen the perspective for the understanding of the human being and his or her action in the world.
We observe the ways in which today’s children are missing out on childhood and notice the unhelpful effects of this on children. It is our aim to contribute to recovering the experience of childhood again.
It is not for children to grow into being adults prematurely; it is for adults to value the time of childhood and adolescence.
Parents have noticed how the work we do together is restoring trust and confidence, and how children respond with more cooperation and contentment. This shows us that we can trust the future we are building.
I started my life in a little village in Spain where I experienced nature, fruit trees and rural traditions. I was born in a modest family with a community orientated business. I grew up with brothers and sisters and people that had time to share life with each other. I loved to feel the daily and seasonal rhythms and experience the craft work of the people around me.
I admire those who provided the environment for my childhood in which I experienced life in a community. Over time I have recognized and valued their qualities and often wondered why there is so little of that left. In the courses I run a space is created where the qualities of ‘interest’ and ‘listening' can be alive again and with it, enabling healing impulses to enter during the work. These are ‘life sharing groups’ which find ways of exchanging that enable the flow of destiny, and the courage to renew our lives
At the time of my inner awakening about the age of 9, I asked myself “Why are adults like that ?” This question started a path in search for answers about life and its meaning. At 12 our family moved to Barcelona and there I started to work at quite a young age, helping in my brother’s restaurant I was again in touch with people, work and real life. Later, as I was working in the morning, I decided to continue with my studies in the evening.
Observation and Consciousness
In my late teens I was involved with groups where I often used the word “ being conscious of… ourselves, others, children, environment…” A longing to find depth and answers to my questions brought me to meet the work of Rudolf Steiner which inspired me and my work thereafter. I was then 22 and the first thing I met of Steiner’s philosophy was its living qualities. I spent time with a friend with whom I experienced the significance of listening and taking interest in each other. He introduced me to learning how to notice and observe nature.
I appreciate and empathise with Gaudi (the architect in Barcelona). All his architecture is based on the methodical observation of nature. He says: “The great book of nature, which is always open, has much to teach us if we make the effort to understand it"
Observation practice is an important element in the courses I run. I realize now how much potential this has for understanding the “great book of life”.
Would clear observation be the key to finding ways of solving the many difficult situations in today’s living?
In Biography work, observing our life with a mood of openness and respect brings insight to the questions we may have about it. The same can happen with the task of parenting. Observing our situations attentively, we start to notice how the situations themselves tell us something; increasing our ability to discriminate the real needs of children.
I studied Early Year’s Education in Barcelona’s University and did my practical in public schools. I also spent time in a private school where I introduced kindergarten children to creative play time and natural materials.
I have lived, studied and travelled in international environments in which I have been able to do exchanges and widen my perspective. I often travel to Germany, Spain and England owing to work and family affairs. I have gone through many different experiences in life. I know about suffering and I have played my part in the sharing of life’s struggles. Aware of the times in which we are living, I believe in the new possibilities that our full engagement with life can bring about
Interest in and for children has continued to be a thread throughout my life. With a hope to make a contribution to childhood I started to search for the best possible education I could find. After a year of practice and work in Madrid’s Waldorf Kindergarten, I came to England to continue my Steiner Kindergarten Training and was able to do my practical in different schools. I now live near London.
Following a few years of teaching in kindergarten I turned to the adults’ life with the impulse to study at the Centre for Social Development. There I discovered new ways of adult learning, found out about biography work, and facilitating meeting in groups. I was then 33 years old. The training in Biographical Counselling followed, and offered me the possibility to deepen my understanding of the human soul, and spiritual strivings. Later I contributed to this training by facilitating the practice of communication skills in groups. I then became a member of the Biography and Social Development Trust. My focus at that time was on adult learning, personal healing and social development.
From 1994 I set up courses on biography work, relationships and communication skills. I began to work with groups in order to provide a space to share, to find and give support, thus creating opportunities for research and learning.
A New Phase
In 1998 a new phase began. Just before the end of the millennium I felt a sense of urgency to address the need for a better understanding of children, and to find creative ways of responding to their behaviour. I saw the pressure building up on parents, teachers and also the children; and noticed a growing need to speak up, to define our concerns and values and to open the door to fresh inspiration.
Being aware of children again, and feeling their call, I started to run workshops for parents and those involved with children and adolescence. Now, my interest for adults and for children could work together! The previous workshops provided experience and substance for a wider perspective to explore the questions related to parenting. The belief that we adults can make a difference to children has been an empowering experience for many.
This work reaches people from all paths of life, of different cultures and believes. I see that my task is to share, collect and pass on the experiences and research done outside and within the groups. I would like to encourage the social-political validation of the task of parenting. Our talks and courses are supportive of Waldorf education and have contributed to events and community building around new initiatives. They have also being offered in main stream schools.
My husband’ Rainer’s support has been important to this work. It is our joint intention to create opportunities where self-knowledge and healing can grow for the benefit of childhood.
I played as a child in the fields of southern Germany where I was born, later in my teens I recognized my interest for the earth and concerns for the environment. This brought me to work in biodynamic gardening for many years. This is a method that brings healing to the earth and respects nature. My activity in this field has always been connected with people, either training them in biodynamic methods or being involved with curative work in the garden.
When I came to England looking for my next steps, I did studies on Social Development work, Biography and Adult Education the same year as Lourdes. We shared interests in a new approach to adult learning which reflected later in the creation of the new courses. Together, we developed many of the experiential exercises that were taken into groups. At the same time, I worked at Emerson College which is an adult education centre in England. My job involved gardening and training students. They made comments on how my way of listening helped them to find their next steps in life.
Years of attentive observation with plants serve me to deeply know the growing processes in nature. I could appreciate the role that healthy natural rhythms play in everyday living. In the same way I realized the value of giving children time for the natural unfolding of their growing processes – a time for childhood.
My contribution to ‘A Time for Childhood’ is to support the preparation of courses, the post review, and learning. I help the unfolding of thoughts and feelings that contribute to developing courses. I offer my observation work and contributions to the theme in some of the courses.
The work of this initiative is about listening to people, their situations, and from there discover ways forward. So my role is also listening and helping processes of decision making, gathering materials and helping the administration work. In our walks, sharing moments and readings, Lourdes and I, have opportunities to work with research questions relevant to the themes of interest.
Our approach has been defined as “plain human”. It makes room for that which is genuine and honest in people and strives to emerge in the form of ideas, feelings and actions. We facilitate processes of change and explore new ways of working that can enhance the understanding of childhood. This approach respects people’s intrinsic capacities and empowers their abilities; thus finding ways to reconnect to the spiritual within us, as well as fostering trust in ourselves and in children.
We would like to encourage awareness for the middle path and a sense for proportion: ‘between too little …and…too much’. We encourage bringing balance in the life of children through an education that takes into consideration a healthy future. We create a space to rethink our values and foster a culture beyond blame – a culture of support and learning. It is based on dialogue, the practice of observation and listening abilities.
It has an experiential approach and works with real life questions. Biography work brings an essential understanding of the needs of childhood through the experience of our own life story. We search for ways of bringing knowledge of the spirit into the work of every day life with children.
A Time for Childhood is a partner of the ‘Alliance for Childhood’ – a worldwide network of individuals and organisations committed to fostering and respecting each child’s inherent right to a healthy childhood.
I am grateful for all that I have learned from my teachers during my trainings. A continuous source of inspiration comes from life experiences. This includes the many insights coming from the work in groups and from participant’s important contributions.
Individuals, groups and centres that support, organise or host ‘A time for childhood workshops ‘
Participants often organise talks in schools or other organizations, both in London and Barcelona. A network of friends and professionals also give their support in a variety of ways.
We run regular workshops in London at Rudolf Steiner House and contribute themes to 'The First Three Years' –a part time course in early childhood which is held both in London and York. We also offer workshops to parents in Waldorf schools and have contributed to one of the regional ‘Sure Start’ programmes.
People with an active involvement:
Nuria Debritto is a mother of two boys aged 14 and 12. She works as a legal and financial advisor, and has been an active member of the Rosa d’Abril School Association for more than ten years. She helps with other Waldorf projects in Barcelona, as well as initiatives which work for social renewal and ecological agriculture. She supports ‘A Time for Childhood’ courses from Rosa d’Abril and has organised talks for families in the ‘Els xipress’ school in Barcelona.
Ricard Ramos is a music teacher and has also done a Waldorf Education training. He is involved in starting the new Kindergarten initiative near Granollers (Barcelona), through the Association ‘Espai per als Infants’. Ricardo is an ‘Alliance for Childhood’ partner. He has three daughters and has organised regular gatherings for families in the summer. He contributes to the ‘A Time for Childhood’ initiative by preparing the advertising for the courses in Barcelona, as well as organising talks in a nearby school.