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Alfa-skolan           Learning system for special needs






Unique teaching technique
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Alfa-skolan         Learning system for special needs
Birgitta Sundvall, Sweden.

The last years of neuroscience shows that our intelligence can be blocked by feelings like fear, sadness, irritation, anger etc.

Today we know that feelings are something.
Feelings are tied to a mechanism, a substance called peptides. These peptides move through the body to different receptors in the brain, the nervous system, the immune system etc. If the feelings are negative, different functions are affected.

Our brain is not like a car engine - good or bad.
It is dynamic and can develop in a stimulating environment.
Only words do not fire everybody’s intelligence. The content is important. Our brain needs engagements, variation and good feelings to develop. This is how we where meant to function. The answer is written in our cells and thanks to fantastic scientists we know this today.

My learning methods really developed from when I was a pupil myself.
My first years in school were very difficult. I could see the text - but still I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t grasp the content. I tried and tried but it didn’t work. I had to sit there at my desk hour after hour, year after year, with empty, meaningless words in front of me.

However, one day in secondary school a miracle happened. A friend had promised to help me with my English grammar. We were out having fun and happily we sat down on the grass. When I opened my book I suddenly could SEE the entire page. Everything seemed so obvious. After a few minutes I knew my homework without any help.

Gradually I learned to recognize this certain state, where I knew that NOW I could learn. I found my own ways to learn. Later as a teacher I recognized this problem in many pupils that had concentration difficulties, and therefore often was disturbing the class.

The brain works in different frequencies that can be measured with an EEG. These frequencies are called Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta waves. In a relaxed and friendly mood the brain works in Alpha waves, 7-13 cycles per second.
This is where we have an effective learning process. It was this state that I intuitively found in my early years at school.

Too many lessons are full with words and numbers, completely free of feelings and engagement. Many teachers fool themselves to believe that we only have time for “stuffing”. Many pupils drop off and some become frustrated and disturbing in the class-room. Through the years as a teacher I developed a learning system that got all the pupils to grow, step by step especially in math, English and creative writing.
Considering how the brain works it is important HOW we work with the traditional school subjects to get the knowledge anchored and then to retain.

I also strive to interweave meaningful content that will awake kindness, hope and consideration etc. to make the pupils feel good.
Our senses must be stimulated in a good way to develop our intelligence.
We need to alter between the functions in the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere of the brain, alter between analytic and holistic, between focusing and defocusing and we need to be serious as well as joyful etc.
With the right kind of music and good creative activities we get the right atmosphere in the classroom for an optimal learning situation.

Today I give talks and seminars at different schools all over the country about neuroscience and my learning system. In many schools it becomes a complement to the traditional education.

In Sweden I was asked to help Andreas, 12 years old. He had refused to go to school for three months and teachers, psychologists and curators had tried in different ways to get him back - but he refused. Finally his desperate parents tried to pull him to school.  However, he escaped to the forest as soon as he could.

Andreas told me he was the one most behind in the math book and he didn’t understand anything.
His friends gave him hints and his teacher considered him to be a weak pupil.
It was like an invisible wall that he couldn’t break through. He had tried and tried and now he had given up. When I tested him I realized that he was a very creative and a typical holistic child. We tried different exercises and there - bingo!
Suddenly he was alert and concentrated.

A friendly and harmonious atmosphere is necessary for a satisfying learning environment. It doesn’t work when we are under stress, fear, tension etc.
Our breathing is important. A person under stress or fear is often breathing the wrong way. It becomes a bad circle; negative feelings build up and block different functions in the body.
With the right breathing exercises we find the Alpha frequency again and the body starts to relax so the blockages can disappear.

I think that it has been especially interesting to work with pupils with great difficulties like dyslexia, DAMP etc. to prove that they in a short time can learn many things that seemed impossible for years.
But of course I also worked with many “normal” pupils because all pupils can advance much more - if we stimulate them. And on the contrary - they slow down if we don’t.

Read more about the pupils further down.....(click here)

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Stefan was in the 9th grade. He didn’t know 4th grade math. At school he was mostly running around making a nuisance or he was speeding around on his moped. His school had tried different alternative programs to teach him but he had given up and thought he could never learn.
The first time Stefan came to my school he was very tense. I explained to him a little about the functions of the brain and taught him a breathing exercise that could help him to relax.
Then we started with math. Soon I saw a glint in his eyes and for two hours he sat like a nice schoolboy, he nodded, smiled and repeated: ”Now I understand, now I understand. I want to do this!” His teacher, who was present, could hardly believe what he saw. Stefan really went for it and in the springtime he managed to pass the “national tests” in math. He asked for an intense training in English and passed that test too.
At graduation he was shining like a sun.

Caroline: One day in Sweden a curator came out to me with a girl in despair. She was in the 8th grade. They had pulled her into the car and she had been crying all the way. She moved with cramps and had nervous tensions in her face. She had refused to go to school for a year because she was so bad. I explained to her and showed her how I work and soon she was in full swing and hardly wanted to stop.
She then joined some other pupils with similar difficulties.
The third time we performed an English play. She was fantastic. What a feeling!
All the time she was bubbling of joy and inspiration. She was considered bad in English but soon she knew the whole play by heart. In addition she also exceeded in grammar and creative writing.

A group of pupils from different schools in fifth grade came to my training.
Three of the pupils were diagnosed as special care children. When we had worked with math about an hour, I suggested their teacher to take a walk. She answered:
No thanks, I prefer to remain here. I want to see this. All these years we have struggled with these pupils without success. Now it works, and I understand why.
This is the way I will work with my pupils at school from now on.

Johanna was in 8th grade and had not been to school for two years. The school and the county had tried everything possible. Already in the lower grades she was diagnosed with dyslexia and severe learning difficulties in math.
A normal 2nd grade pupil could achieve better than she could. Besides she had an odd behavior. As soon as we came close to something she did not know, her face turned distorted and she jumped up and shouted that she was not going to learn.
One day I asked if she knew any songs. Then together with her mother she sang an old melancholy beautiful song, ‘Violets for my mother’. Her face completely changed by the song. She got a sweet and sincere expression and all her fear disappeared. When I saw that change I decided to try to help her.
Johanna’s story turned into a Cinderella story. We met twice a week. After seven months she knew well the basic of arithmetic. She loved to write poems and stories that she proudly presented on the kitchen table at home.
She sat content and in full expectation together with different groups of pupils who came to my school. If something was too hard for her she explained that in a calm and sensible manner.
Today Johanna is back in her old school - extremely happy.

Box 64, 61621 Åby