Book Reviews

Word power can both kill and thrill!

by Gaston de Rosayro

Daily News, Monday 02nd November 2015

http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/word-power-can-both-kill-and-thrill

Word Power

I was invited to speak recently at a book launch titled ‘Creative Arts Therapies for Autistic Children’ by the famed dramatherapist Ravindra Ranasinha. At the outset may I remind you that I do not consider myself a psychologist or psychiatrist and neither do I profess being one.

You might wonder then why I, a humble journalist, had been dragooned into speaking at an event addressed mostly by erudite specialists in the field. But at the same time may I inform you that both my wife and I are qualified psychological counsellors trained by the International Samaritans in Hong Kong.

Briefly about the author Ravidra Ranasinha: He has been a ministering angel to the wretched of this nation. He has been able to provide his healing touch with those same admirable qualities of love and compassion in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds. The clients he works with have differing needs, from children in the autistic spectrum to older people with dementia, self-harming adolescents, people with histories of sexual and/or physical abuse, those suffering from a mental illness and women with post-natal depression.

Dramatherapy is essentially a creative healing therapy that uses the performing arts to promote psychological, emotional and social change. Dramatherapists are both artists and clinicians and draw on their trainings in theatre/drama and therapy to create methods to engage clients in effecting psychological, emotional and social changes. The therapy makes use of role play, voice work, myth, ritual and storytelling. Movement and objects can also be used expressively without words. It can help increase clients’ self awareness and offer a creative way for an individual or group to explore and solve personal and social problems

The subject I chose to speak about at the launch was a far cry from the discourses of the scholarly experts on the panel who enlightened the packed audience on the programs, therapies and research breakthroughs on the immensely complex subject of Autism spectrum disorder diagnosis or ASD.

Being a wordsmith who has worked internationally I chose to make a discourse on the power of the spoken word. Words as you are doubtlessly aware are really two-edged swords – they can destroy or empower, hurt and heal and even kill. Our words have a tremendous power to bring healing and strength to another person or to hurt in a very deep way. We should never underestimate the power we have to use our words for a positive effect on a person’s life or, in some cases, a lasting negative effect.

How do we comfort the parents of such children who have been through the Autism spectrum disorder diagnosis or ASD. However well-intentioned comments that were meant to comfort can sometimes cut like a knife! Yet what do you say to parents carrying such a cross? Even with the right to be wary you must never bring yourself to say the wrong things. No you don’t blurt out that you are sorry! Because that sometimes makes things worse

You don’t say you’re sorry because these people don’t want to be pitied. And it makes things worse not better. While for many of them the life after diagnosis will be different, it is not less. While their child might miss out on some things, he or she is not considered less. You don’t say to these parents, “He’ll be fine.” ASD is very complex and no two journeys are the same. One parent told me: “Even as a mother of a child with autism I am very hesitant to give advice, as I know my son’s autism is not your child’s autism.”

We should all know better than to say “Really? He seems so normal.” Those phrases do not comfort, they simply insert an opinion when our opinion was not asked. Parents facing an ASD diagnosis do not want unsolicited advice or pity. They do not want you to minimize their feelings or give false hope.

They want you to listen. They want you to care. They want you to stay in their lives and not brand them as special needs parents. They want you to understand that although their lives might be taking a different turn, they still need friends. Their children still need friends and subtle support.

Then what the heck do you say to these people? Sure as a counsellor I too was at a loss for words. Even as a professional wordsmith I could not find the right words? Then like a bolt from the blue it came to me. The two simple and perfect words you can say: “I’m here.” And mean it. Mean it through every struggle, every victory and every passing day.

Mean it on the days when autism is all they can talk about and on the days when they need an extra set of hands. Mean it when you are making out the list of which children to invite to your child’s birthday party. They don’t need you to be an expert on autism. They don’t need you to always say the right thing. Now, more than ever, they need you to just be there.

gdgasross@gmail.com

– See more at: http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/word-power-can-both-kill-and-thrill#sthash.lIiCdjMd.dpuf
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Unravelling the world of an autistic child
By Gaston de Rosayro Sunday, 11 October 2015

http://www.sundaytimes.lk/151011/plus/unravelling-the-world-of-an-autistic-child-167136.html

Sri Lankan dramatherapist, Ravi Ranasinha unveiled the compilation of his latest work on autism at a recent house-packed book launch.

This invaluable, one-of-a-kind resource is designed to help parents detect early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and related disorders and to take steps that can make a dramatic difference in a child’s life.

The author has delved deeply into this complex subject. Not only has he cited erudite, world-renowned authorities in this complicated field of study but has brought into play insightful reflections from parents, caregivers and teachers.

The book’s roots of action therapies alone provide a rich global background study of this important and often poorly understood subject.

But Ranasinha goes further, placing his own valuable contributions to the field within Sri Lanka’s historic, religious, and cultural context as well.

Whether it’s at school, work or in social settings, people with autism are often misconceived. They often suffer discrimination, intolerance and isolation, resulting in many feeling excluded from everyday society.

One is enlightened by various experts on the subject that autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that there is a wide degree of variation in the way it affects people.

Learning about the different autism spectrum disorders will help you better understand your own child, get a handle on what all the different autism terms mean, and make it easier to communicate with the doctors, teachers, and therapists helping your child.

The cases cited in the book will prove an invaluable asset to counsellors, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, paediatricians and those who work as special needs educators.

The book’s various specialist studies agree and shatter the myth that autism is not, repeat not, a mental health disorder. Rather it is a neurological disorder.

Research on people afflicted with the disorder reveal abnormalities in brain structure and neurotransmitter levels.

Part of the reason it is so hard to separate mental illnesses from autism is that autism is still not fully understood and appears different in each person.

One person’s autism is nothing like another person’s autism. What it means is that a programme, classroom, therapy or social group event that works beautifully for one autistic person may be an utter disaster for another person with the identical diagnosis.

How do you make the world aware of a single disorder that can present itself so very differently in different individuals? How do you create policies, undertake research or provide services for a group of people who have radically different needs? How do you plan a school programme, provide therapies, or even access support when your situation is practically unique?

Of course the answer is there is no one autism and that issue lies at the heart of many of the problems experienced by members of the disparate group that is sometimes called the ‘autism community.’

The book provides a thoroughly researched, well-organised wealth of information for families, regardless of where they are on the continuum of healing our children while planning for their futures.

One is struck by how encompassing it is with regard to all of the possibilities for treatment.

It details the kinds of environmental stressors that contribute to the myriad health issues many of these children experience.

It imparts a comprehensive overview of the latest therapies and innovative treatment modalities to help you decide how they relate to the individual needs of your child.

The book is also peppered with first-hand cameos of resourceful parents, carers, and teachers and their struggles at outsmarting autism even when they were short of all resources.

That they succeeded to a large degree in achieving breakthroughs provides hope and inspiration to others in the community who despair at the prospect.

These are all heart-warming accounts that raise the spirit of readers and teach us to fight against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Besides, such anecdotes are all about standing beside your family in all circumstances. Above all, is the certainty that these stirring sagas of courage and perseverance will pay off someday.

If you know someone whose child was recently diagnosed or is interested in learning more about different therapies, this is the ideal book to give as a gift!

I am confident that it will give you guidance, as well as a better understanding of how to harness all of the information available, channelling it towards giving your family the best foundation possible to begin healing.
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Exorcise tormenting teachers from Hell?
By Gaston de Rosayro Sunday, 03 August 2014

teachers
Schools in similarity to homes are supposed to be safe havens for children. To date, there is greater awareness than ever about the topic. And also there is increased understanding of how serious it is and how many students are significantly affected by both emotional and physical violence in an environment that is supposed to protect and nurture them.

How have we as a nation done in effectively addressing school violence, bullying and all the other ways children are being hurt? Rather poorly by all estimates. It is a complex issue and in spite of the ranting and raving of several parents the problem seems to have intensified.Author and educationist, Ravindra Ranasinha’s new publication ‘How Schools Abuse and Fail Children: Dramatherapy to Heal Emotionally Traumatized School Children in Sri Lanka’ brings into focus our country’s sick education system which he marks with a ‘Grade F.’ He kicks off his narrative with a well-aimed penalty at bullying in schools. Most parents point out the reality that if teachers were really keeping a close eye on the high jinks around the school, there wouldn’t be any bullying going on in the first place.

They maintain the only reason bullies can exist is because teachers do not pay attention to what happens outside the classroom most of the time. Then again the author raises the relevant question: But what if your child’s teacher is the bully? Certainly, Ranasinha will not be in the running if it comes to a popularity poll among his fellow educationists who subscribe to the ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ philosophy.

For instance, the author himself reflects on his own educational journey where he extracts certain sketches of a painful past in which the cane held sway as the order of the day. He states: “For years from Grade 4 to 9, I lived through teachers’ cruelty. Even though they made me suffer, to my knowledge I had no deficiency. It was how they viewed me.” It is true that there was not much margin for error in that time and place and corporal punishment even for the slightest infraction was the norm.

British-style formal caning was fully lawful in Ceylon schools then and strongly supported by the government. Most of the country’s secondary schools used the cane, which was a significant element in the disciplinary system. But such punishment rarely fitted the crime and provided a free rein for appalling abuse by many tyrannical pedagogues.

The author highlights the truism that teachers can make or break a child. But now although corporal punishment is banned in schools, we observe that it still persists with scandalous regularity. Ranasinha cites several case studies of children who have been subjected to unspeakable brutality and physical and psychological abuse.

Which brings us to a most pertinent question: Why teachers who use physical violence to discipline their charges are not slapped with charges of criminal offences and hounded out of the profession for good? That is because the majority of teacher bullying may go unreported for several reasons. The victims may not trust the system to support or believe them. They may also fear being singled out for retribution by the executor in the form of lowering their grades or more discrimination.

So, it stands out with startling clarity that we are faced with the shameful and unpalatable truth that social abuse is part of our nation’s conventional education system. Also parents take a wishy-washy attitude about such horrific perpetrations. Naturally, when the physical bullying gets intolerable no right-thinking parent would hesitate to report such atrocities.

But when the harassment is emotional or verbal, they often aren’t sure how to react. One concern is that teachers will retaliate and make things worse for their child. While this is a valid concern, it is never a good idea to ignore the situation. Now, in his new book, Ravindra Ranasinha attacks the problem head-on and covers the entire gamut of what makes many schools a nightmarish environment for our children. Every aspect from physical to sexual and emotional abuse, to romantic adolescent crushes and suicides, mental health, home violence and broken families is dealt with comprehensively. The document is well compiled with arduous research and fortified with several case studies that clearly sound out the dangerous psychological perspectives of such enforced trauma.

Then in conclusion the writer provides the prescription of his favourite healing panacea for the scarred minds of all victims pursued by such afflictions in the form of drama-therapy. His last book on the subject of drama-therapy has been a best-seller. We are made aware that drama-therapy is essentially a creative healing remedy that uses the performing arts to promote psychological, emotional and social curing change.

The author with daring dexterity dashes the tendentious ball into the court of the apathetic and unconcerned political and state educational authorities placing the blame squarely on the existing educational system. At the same time, he demands rapid reforms to counter this destructive state of affairs to ensure the emotional and psychological interests of schoolchildren.

The study is an invaluable handbook for the entire educational shebang including ministry and department mandarins, administrators, principals and gurus. That is because the author being a victim of such abuse and subsequently a benevolent teacher himself identifies where our educational system has gone wrong and what all such authorities should do to remedy it.

The truth is the children can experience physical, emotional and even sexual abuse at the hands of students as well as teachers. The research demonstrates that abuse of all forms undermines self-esteem, lowers learning ability, causes depression and contributes to long-term social problems. Ranasinha poses the relevant question that it is about time we recognised the horror gauntlet our children are being forced to run. Shouldn’t everyone concerned make a combined effort to ensure our children are safeguarded from such sadistic hurt both physically and emotionally?

What the author is basically attempting to enumerate is that empathy should be an intrinsic part of the education system. If schools are required to engage in generating intellectual development, they must inherently be equally involved in fostering emotional development. Educators must be able to connect to and understand their charges in order to best serve those students’ needs and focus on nurturing learning rather than judging performance.But to do that we first have to exorcise those teachers or rather those malevolent creatures from Hell completely out of our educational system. There can be no compromise about that!
gdgasross@gmail.com

– See more at: http://www.nation.lk/edition/lens/item/31887-exorcise-tormenting-teachers-from-hell?.html#sthash.a2busJ4q.dpuf

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Imparting an all important lesson
http://www.sundaytimes.lk/140713/plus/imparting-an-all-important-lesson-106547.html

View(s):

Author and educationist Ravindra Ranasinha’s new publication brings into focus our country’s ailing education system which he marks with a ‘Grade F.’ He kicks off his narrative with a well-aimed penalty at bullying in schools. Most parents point out the reality that if teachers were really keeping a close eye on the high jinks around the school, there wouldn’t be any bullying going on in the first place.

front RGB

They maintain the only reason bullies can exist is because teachers do not pay attention to what happens outside the classroom most of the time. Then again the author raises the relevant question: But what if your child’s teacher is the bully? Certainly, the author will not be in the running if it comes to a popularity poll among his fellow educationists who subscribe to the ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ philosophy.

For instance the author himself extracts certain sketches of a painful past in which the cane held sway as the order of the day. He states, “For years from the fourth grade to the ninth grade, I lived through teachers’ cruelty. Even though they made me suffer, to my knowledge I had no deficiency. It was how they viewed me.” It is true that there was not much margin for error in that time and place and corporal punishment even for the slightest infraction was the norm.

British-style formal caning was fully lawful in Ceylon schools then and strongly supported by the government. Most of the country’s secondary schools used the cane, which was a significant element in the disciplinary system. But such punishment rarely fitted the crime and provided a free rein for appalling abuse by many tyrannical pedagogues.

The author highlights the truism that teachers can make or break a child. But now although corporal punishment is banned in schools, we observe that it still persists. Ranasinha cites several case studies of children who have been subjected to unspeakable brutality and physical and psychological abuse.

Which brings us to a most pertinent question: Why teachers who use physical violence to discipline their charges are not slapped with charges of criminal offences and hounded out of the profession for good? That is because the majority of teacher bullying may go unreported for several reasons. The victims may not trust the system to support or believe them. They may also fear being singled out for retribution by the executor in the form of lowering their grades or more discrimination.

So it stands out with startling clarity that we are faced with the unpalatable truth that social abuse is part of our nation’s conventional education system. Also parents take a wishy-washy attitude to it. Naturally, when the physical bullying gets intolerable no right-thinking parent would hesitate to report such atrocities.

But when the harassment is emotional or verbal, they often aren’t sure how to react. One concern is that teachers will retaliate and make things worse for their child. While this is a valid concern, it is never a good idea to ignore the situation.
Now, in his new book, Ravindra Ranasinha attacks the problem head-on. Every aspect from physical to sexual and emotional abuse, to romantic adolescent crushes and suicides, mental health, home violence and broken families is dealt with comprehensively.
The document is well compiled with arduous research and fortified with several case studies that clearly sound out the dangerous psychological perspectives of such enforced trauma. It also contains extensive expert references which are attributed in indexes at the end of the book.

Then in conclusion the writer provides the prescription of his favourite healing panacea for the scarred minds of all victims pursued by such afflictions in the form of dramatherapy. His last book on the subject of Dramatherapy has been a best-seller. We are made aware that dramatherapy is essentially a creative healing remedy that uses the performing arts to promote psychological, emotional and social curing change.

The author places the blame squarely on the existing educational system. At the same time he demands rapid reforms to ensure the emotional and psychological interests of school children.
The study is an invaluable handbook for the entire educational shebang including ministry and department mandarins, administrators, principals and gurus. That is because the author being a victim of such abuse and subsequently a benevolent teacher himself identifies where our educational system has gone wrong and what all such authorities should do to remedy it.

The truth is, children can experience physical, emotional, and even sexual abuse at the hands of students as well as teachers. The research demonstrates that abuse of all forms undermines self esteem, lowers learning ability, causes depression, and contributes to long term social problems. Ranasinha poses the relevant question that it is about time we recognised the horror gauntlet our children are being forced to run. Shouldn’t everyone concerned make a combined effort to ensure our children are safeguarded from such sadistic hurt both physically and emotionally?

What the author is basically attempting to enumerate is that empathy should be an intrinsic part of the education system. If schools are required to engage in generating intellectual development, they must inherently be equally involved in fostering emotional development. Educators must be able to connect to and understand their charges in order to best serve those students’ needs and focus on nurturing learning rather than judging performance.

But to do that we first have to exorcise those bullying teachers from our educational system. There can be no compromise about that!

Book facts
How schools abuse and fail children by Ravindra Ranasinha. Reviewed By Gaston de Rosayro

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Bully at the Blackboard !
http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features%2Fbully-blackboard#sthash.yGa2IwLp.dpuf

Gaston de Rosayro

z_p21-Bully-01
Just last week I received a book for reviewing from author and educationist Ravindra Ranasinha. The well-timed publication titled ‘How schools abuse and fail children,’ brings into focus the subject of bullying in schools. Bullying is beginning to get national attention and taken far more seriously than in times past. But the author’s focus is decidedly not on kid-on-kid abuse alone. While the mean children, those who taunt and torment their peers can be coped with and stopped there is a bigger issue at hand.

The burning question is: What if your child’s teacher is the bully? Ravi Ranasinha’s recent research shows that thousands of children are bullied by teachers in their lifetime. Teachers who are bullies have the same characteristics of other bullies. They are sadistic and petty, gaining self-esteem through the humiliation of others.
z_p21-Bully-02
The majority of teachers your child will encounter are good at what they do. In fact, many of them go beyond the call of duty and are sympathetic and understanding listeners. However, there are teachers who do not handle their responsibilities well.

With his vast teaching experience Ranasinha takes the opportunity to write about teachers in our educational system. However, he does not linger much on the subject of teachers who make a positive impact on children. Instead, he boldly tackles the issue of sadistic teachers who bully and make classroom lessons a child’s nightmare.

Mounting evidence

In the school environment, a teacher-bully will shame a child in front of classmates, often using his or her position of authority in abusive ways. The teacher-bully may make an example of a child, sending him out of the classroom or to the dunce’s corner. Instead of using proper disciplinary procedures or effective classroom management techniques, they use their power as a teacher to condemn, manipulate, ridicule students and even assault them.

But when teachers verbally and even physically abuse kids, the abuse is often blatant and rarely called what it is, which is essentially bullying. Although teacher bullying gets little attention, unless a child is battered mercilessly, Ranasinha claims that the problem is more common than most people believe.
The author highlights the fact that teachers can make or break a child. But now although corporal punishment is banned in schools we observe that it still persists with appalling regularity. Ranasinha cites several case studies of children who have been subjected to horrifying brutality and physical and psychological abuse. These then are the type of cold-blooded educators who abuse their power over the very kids they are supposed to protect.

Amid all this mounting evidence that bullying is on the rise, there has been a glaring absence of statistics on adult school bullies. In part, perhaps, because bullying by a teacher or principal is far more complex to identify, address, and remedy. It is difficult to perceive what to make of a teacher who crosses the line from basic discipline to regularly berating, intimidating, humiliating and even physically abusing a student. So much so, in fact, that it becomes a terrifying prospect for a child to be in school.z_p21-Bully-03_0

Stress and trauma

Children are often apt to suffer such hierarchal bullying in silence. Chances are if your child is being bullied by a teacher he or she won’t say anything. Your child may also fear retaliation by the teachers if he or she says anything about what is happening.

Remember, a teacher is a figure of authority and kids think that there is nothing that can be done if their teacher acts inappropriately.

With a bully teacher, fighting back, walking out of the class, or ignoring the jibes or whacks are hardly viable solutions, and ones that will most likely get kids into even more trouble. At the very least, the child knows by telling a teacher, another adult at the school, or even their own parents, that the problem isn’t likely to be solved overnight. So what is a child or a parent to do?
Mostly when children complain about a ‘mean’ teacher, many parents take it with a grain of salt. They usually believe that the word ‘mean’ refers to a committed teacher who demands more work from his or her students. It may be too little, too late when they realise the chilling truth that the martinet teacher is making life hell for the child.z_p21-Bully-04

As a parent or guardian never ignore an instance of teacher bullying. It will never stop unless you make the teacher aware that you know what is happening and make a commitment to ascertain that it stops. Ignoring a teacher who bullies students allows the practice to continue, which places your child under a great deal of stress and trauma.

Impress on your child that bullying of any kind, even by a teacher, is wrong. This lets your child know that you listen to his concerns and take his well-being seriously. Give your child the support that he or she needs.

A nightmare

If you suspect a teacher at your child’s school is bullying students, step up to the crease and put an end to it immediately. You can make a difference in the life of your child or another child’s life by teaching them that bullying of any kind or by any one is an act of cowardice and is not to be tolerated.
Most teachers are caring and compassionate. They became teachers in order to make a difference in the lives of their pupils.
However, some teachers, for one reason or another, take a dislike to a child in their class and pick on him or her on a daily basis. Such an occurrence can have a long-lasting effect on your child’s academic experience and turns his school year into a nightmare.
Some children will be happy for you to intervene, while others may become terrified of your involvement. Support and comfort your child but also educate him or her that you cannot let this hurtful behaviour continue.

Go to the teacher first to discuss the problem if that doesn’t work report every instance of bullying to the school’s principal. If there is no result request a meeting with the school board and document everything.

It is true that in several instances teachers and administrators tend to cover their colleague’s backs. As a last resort take the case to the educational authorities with the relevant documentation.

Author Ranasinha deserves a bouquet for his well-researched document, which should be recommended as a handbook for all educationists and institutions of learning. Which also brings us to the relevant question: What if there is a little bit of the benevolence of Ravindra Ranasinha in all teachers? Our schools would be a better place, that’s what!

gdgasross@gmail.com

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BOOK REVIEW

http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2014/05/25/mon20.asp

Wake-up call for educationists

by Niruth Sampanthan

Grabbing titles are very rare. Here’s one at Vijitha Yapa Bookshop: ‘How Schools Abuse; Fail Children: Dramatherapy to Heal Emotionally Traumatised School Children in Sri Lanka’ by Ravindra Ranasinha. The content of this book is so timely, and demands the immediate attention of educationists, and policy makers.
front RGB

The author addresses a burning issue; abuse of children, at a time very little research is done into the most horrendous realities in our schools. Media reports, constantly bring out teacher violence that compel schoolchildren to commit suicide. There’s apparent evidence regarding emotional maltreatment in schools.

Recently, a girl child was garlanded with slippers by the school disciplinarian for wearing a worn pair of shoes. Another girl was made to commit suicide for writing a poem. Against the backdrop of this ghastly teacher behaviour, we have now in hand Ranasinha’s book that boldly demands immediate measures to protect our schoolchildren.

Incidents
The futile educational system that promotes such atrocious incidents in schools needs urgent reformation. The book rightly says many incidents go unreported for fear of being intimidated.

Ranasinha delineates various abuses in schools and their dreadful results. The cases cited show the way the authorities arbitrarily judge situations according to each one’s whims and fancies; which leaves the child in a vulnerable state of mind.

Children are the wealth of a nation and it is ironical to push such wealth into situations which compel them to be at the mercy of counsellors or in extreme situations to commit suicide or worst scenario to end up in a mental asylum.

Precision
Coherent arrangement in the book of the ten chapters with precision, makes it easy for the reader to have an eye view of the layout. The quote by the sixth grader, ‘He who opens a school door, opens a madhouse’ is not to be taken lightly, as it is good food for thought.

The shocking revelations of abuse, makes me think, haven’t we been complacent far too long to let things happen to reach such magnitudes until it knocked our own doors?

The book reveals how schools have become unsafe and chaotic environments making children restless.

There is ample bullying and corporal punishment visible in schools in the name of ‘moulding’ children.

There is a drastic ‘neglect’ of slow learners. The classroom maltreatment turns children to be slow in studies and cause many emotional and psychological problems, which this book explains in detail. Fear, shame and guilt destroy the schoolchild when principals and teachers fail to be empathic towards the school community. Such weakness of the adults incapacitates the child devastatingly, for the whole life.

Philosophically, the book loudly acclaims the necessity forHolistic Education. In a nutshell; it is learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live together.

The emphasis given to ‘being human’ proclaims the need of growth to be in toto; in other words as this document emphasizes, ‘Life is a movement from whole to whole.’ We could draw many examples of people ‘who have everything, but ironically have nothing.’ This is because growth did not happen in every aspect of the human being.

For example, when prominence is given only to economic growth, the other aspects of being a human is either taken for granted or the mere mention of it is laughed at for being not in vogue to become ‘super rich’.

So where do we look for values, if well-being means only the economic growth which gradually finds its ugly roots bringing out the poisonous fruit called jealousy and greed?

Education system
The author rightly questions the existing education system; how many of the professionals have attained any degree of wisdom? The reference to T.S. Eliot sums it all – “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge, where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” True to his words, we see the outcome of the system being vices of society.

It is high time we stop judging schools only by their academic performance, and look for places where breathing space is available for children and opportunity given to the blossoming of their potential. And if this is to happen, as per this invaluable text, the key roles should be effectively played by none other than teachers and parents.

I am of the view that child – parent – teacher relationship should be likened to the legs of a tripod which holds education on the top; meaning one should support the other if holistic education should happen.

The book categorically states how we should approach the situation to alleviate the maladies prevalent in our society to produce healthy minds; otherwise we will continue to nurture ‘professionals sans wisdom.’

Drama Therapy
So much of blowing your own trumpet on ‘Child Centered Education’ is happening, but do we sincerely work towards it? If so, why so many abuses of children happen on a daily basis? Why is it that children are abused in schools in various forms, by the so-called ‘guardians’?

How come abuses happen with ease? Should we create victims and then train counsellors to seek out disturbed mind and cure them? What is our idea of the future generation? Should it be full of victims of abuse carrying scars till the last day of their lives? There are many hypothetical questions. Will anyone bother to answer?

The author brings dramatherapy to the fore as a sound therapeutic intervention to help the victimised child in school.

The case studies cited make one to see the strength of dramatherapy in helping the problem child. It is also emphasised that the change in the teacher is a must to ensure psychological well-being of our schoolchildren.

Hence, the author provides a good number of therapeutic tools for teachers to make a change for the better. A detailed list of process drama activities given in the book aims in helping the classroom to be creative, lively and supportive in its teaching and learning process.There is a plethora of activities, lesson plans and case studies given in the text to help school counsellors and psychotherapists to creatively engage when dealing with emotionally traumatised schoolchildren. Hence, the book is a resource for every counsellor, therapist and psychologist, providing innovative approaches to address child issues.

Finally, the book is a perfect guide on classroom management and teacher behaviour. It raises awareness with which to integrate an understanding of the strengths of the various action therapies, and the significant role they play in serving the curative community.

Congratulations to Ravindra Ranasinha for producing this arduous and daring research.

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NEW BOOK ON DRAMATHERAPY by Ravindra Ranasinha

front CMYK

 Back Cover

AVAILABLE AT SARASAVI BOOKSHOP, NUGEGODA, SRI LANKA.

TWO BOOKS ON DRAMATHERAPY

two dramatherapy books
Two books on Dramatherapy by Ravindra Ranasinha

DRAMATHERAPY IN SRI LANKA

Book Review by Gaston de Rosayro –

DANCING WITH YOUR DEMONS 

Dramatherapy in Action

Dramatherapy activity

Over the last decade or so, Ravindra Ransinha has begun making a name for himself as a dramatist, writer, sociologist, educationist, social worker and finally as dramatherapist. His new book assures the reader that drama isn’t just a source of entertainment. It can also be a means of catharsis, meaning an emotional process of releasing and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions. Make no mistake about it, dramatherapy is not a new technique. For thousands of years the world over, drama has been used in healing rituals.

Indeed, the metaphor linking the world with the stage is one that has captured the imagination of philosophers, poets, and social scientists for centuries. Shakespeare, coining the phrase ‘all the world’s a stage’, described it best hundreds of years ago.In the 20th century many creative workers have rediscovered the therapeutic value of drama and developed the related methods of dramatherapy and psychodrama. In counselling and other forms of therapy the core of the effort is in talking in a safe, supportive relationship. The same holds good in dramatherapy, but with the additional use of creative action when it is useful to help the person progress.

Ranasinha is well aware of the horrors of war and the way our people from both sides of the ethnic divide suffered as a result of our prolonged and senseless conflict. Certainly, he has worked devotedly to help heal the scarred minds of both children and adults who have been pursued by the remorseless furies of terror, bereavement, bloodshed and brutality.

The book reminds us that we all have our own shadowy nightmares fraught with all kinds of demons. Still it is only by resurrecting these phantoms and possibly by dancing with the demons that one can exorcises them and reclaims one’s power. It takes guts to face your demons. But it pays dividends. Still if you keep trying to bury them, you unconsciously feed each one and it comes out in projection, attributing all your own issues to others.

Without doubt, the author has delved deeply into his subject.  He has not only explained the myriad facets of the subject with cogent elaboration, with hardly room for misunderstanding, but has brought into play several other factors. In fact a blend of science and spirituality is woven into the manuscript combining psychology with philosophy, theatre, ethics and art.

His forceful and insightful reflections of the roots of action therapies alone provide a rich global background study of this important and often poorly understood field. But Ranasinha goes further, placing his own rich contributions to the field within Sri Lanka’s historic, religious, and cultural context as well.
Besides, he brings into focus the similarities of helpful psychological trends in diverse indigenous cultures such as the rituals of American Shamans and our own home-grown exorcist ‘kattadiyas’.  He combines fascinating theoretical discussions with practical clinical illustrations. This volume opens with a review of the origins and development of role in drama and the social sciences.

We are made aware that dramatherapy is essentially a creative healing therapy that uses the performing arts to promote psychological, emotional and social change. Dramatherapists are both artists and clinicians and draw on their trainings in theatre/drama and therapy to create methods to engage clients in effecting psychological, emotional and social changes.

The therapy makes use of role play, voice work, myth, ritual and storytelling. Movement and objects can also be used expressively without words. It can help increase clients’ self awareness and offer a creative way for an individual or group to explore and solve personal and social problems.The author’s contribution to action psychotherapies is an excellent critical introduction to dramatic and action therapies. Through historical analysis, theoretical discussion, and scrutiny of clinical practice, he demonstrates how creativity, spontaneity, and dramatic therapies constitute an integrative and holistic resource for psychological healing.

Basically the clients they work with have differing needs,  from children in the autistic spectrum to older people with dementia,  self-harming adolescents, people with histories of sexual and/or physical abuse, those suffering from a mental illness and women with post-natal depression.By encouraging creative expression, individuals and group members can feel involved in relationships with others and in the course of having some fun clients can build self confidence and self awareness. Through role play and experimenting with alternative behaviours and strategies, clients can learn to deal with social situations with increased understanding and assertiveness.

Ravindra  Ranasinha is currently the consultant dramatherapist for the Sunera Foundation.  His duties include training the trainers of the foundation on dramatherapy. An exciting feature of the Sunera Foundation curriculum has been the introduction of dramatherapy for children with learning disorders. Ranasinha has innovatively translated the concept into our own cultural Sri Lankan idiom.

Such therapy covers educational, psychological and emotional problems in school-going children as well as adults needing this intervention and introduces techniques of problem solving and issues related to low self esteem, lack of confidence and other everyday issues which are so often swept under the carpet for want of help.

The reader is left with valuable insights with which to integrate an understanding of the strengths of the various action therapies and the significant role they play in serving the therapeutic community. The solid intellectual heritage of the field is explored in depth while opening possibilities to the reader for future innovation.

A true tour de force, the book will serve as a foundational guide to students and professionals in the action therapies, psychodynamic, constructivist and cognitive-behavioural therapies for years to come. The approach in most of these practices has been found to produce striking results with myriad client groups, including individuals with learning difficulties, children with emotional and behavioural difficulties and adults in mental health care.

The prescription has worked in other art forms such as dance which can also provide a process that accelerates rehabilitation and brings healing and restoration. Ravi Ranasinha has also worked with helping scores of Down Syndrome children and his efforts to a large degree have achieved dramatic success.
This was reinforced positively by a performance of such a troupe of his Sunera Foundation charges at his recent book launch, who executed a dance item with admirable panache. It was here that even those who simply attended the launch also experienced the many healing benefits of the arts.

gdgasross@gmail.com

– See more at: http://www.nation.lk/edition/fine/item/18424-dancing-with-your-demons.html#sthash.vTpWSb2r.dpuf

DRAMATHERAPY IN SRI LANKA

Dramatherapy in Sri Lanka

Author: Ravindra Ranasinha

Date of Publish: May 2013

Publisher: Deepa Center for Community Development and Peace-building

Price: Rs. 1,000/-

Available at Vijitha Yapa Book Shop, Unity Plaza, Bambalapitiya, Sri Lanka.

For orders call 0719839507

Front Cover of the book

Back Cover

මනෝ උපදේශන පසුබිමෙහි රංග චිකිත්සාව

ලේඛක: රවින්ද්‍ර රණසිංහ

ප්‍රකාශිත දිනය: 2013 ජූලි

ප්‍රකාශක: දීපා ප්‍රජා සංවර්ධන හා සාම සාධන මධ්‍යස්ථානය

මිළ: රුපියල් 850 යි.

සරසවි පොත්හලෙන් ලබා ගත හැක.

ඇනවුම් සඳහා අමතන්න 0719839507

front Cover

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Book Review:Dramatherapy in Sri Lanka 

Reviewed by Rev. Fr. Mervyn Fernando

Drama has been a major component of Sri Lankan culture from time immemorial. Though at first blush drama is seen only as a medium of entertainment, it has always had a therapeutic thrust, direct or indirect. The direct objective of our traditional ritualistic bali-thovil performances, for example, has been therapeutic. It is interesting to note that the therapeutic role of drama has often been associated with religion, in many cultures.

The intent of popular modern drama in Sri Lanka has been, in the main, entertainment. But entertainment which engages the emotions of the audience in comedy or tragedy will have some cleansing effect on the psyche –a cathartic effect — depending on the effectiveness of the presentation. As such, drama wittingly or unwittingly meets a deep-seated need for human whole-being.

Recourse to drama as a tool of psychological healing in a secular setting is of relatively recent origin. Given the latent potentiality of drama to touch the psyche it is surprising that drama therapy did not come to its own at an earlier date. My hunch is that Freud’s discovery of the Unconscious component of the human psyche, and Jung’s discovery of Archetypes in the early period of the last century gave a fillip to harnessing drama as a tool of therapy.

Dramatist

Be that as it may, we cannot but rejoice that we have had in our midst an accomplished exponent of drama therapy in the person of Ravindra Ranasinha. He has been active as a dramatist in the Sinhala theatre for the past twenty-five years; during this period he has been responsible for giving us some excellent theatrical presentations, many of them probing the drama of the human condition of our times in society.

Ravindra Ranasinha

In his Hiru Nathi Lowa -1989 (based on The Lower Depths by Maxim Gorky) Ravindra discussed the degradation of humans in a society plagued by poverty and hunger.

This play won five awards at the State Drama Festival in 1991. In Hiru Nodutu Minissu (stage adaptation of the novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – 1987) was a telling depiction of how a totalitarian State dehumanises its citizens. His last production on behalf of the Subodhi Institute was ‘Sevanali’ (Shadows – 2006) an exploration of the devastating impact of war on the lives of children as well as elders; it is based partly on The Diary of Anne Frank.

Ravindra started his practice of dramatherapy in Trincomalee in 2002, with children traumatised by the against terrorism war. He found that a bottom-up approach, making use of the diverse religio-cultural elements among the children themselves in an empathic manner, was more effective than a theoretical top-down clinical approach.

Ravindra’s experience has proved that the multi-ethnic, multi-religious character of Sri Lankan society is a great resource providing an ample repertoire of folk stories, songs, games, religious symbols and practices to the drama therapist.

His training in counselling also helped him to make an empathic entrance into the lives of the children and help them to discover and develop their potential to the maximum. Ravindra has also applied dramatherapy to those with developmental disabilities. Currently he is the consultant Dramatherapist to the Sunera Foundation.

His publication on dramatherapy is a comprehensive exposition of the art and science of the subject based on both his study and the practice of the therapy.

Theory

The book presents a logical unfolding of the subject. Naturally, Ravindra starts with a discussion of the theoretical bases of dramatherapy which has its roots in many disciplines — anthropology, psychology, psychotherapy and sociology. Dramatherapy draws heavily from the elaborations of Freud and Jung on the complex workings of the human psyche.

According to Freud human behaviour is driven, to a large extent, by the contents of the Unconscious, which can be accessed only obliquely. Jung postulated the existence of Archtypes and of a Collective Unconscious which are expressed in symbols and myths specific to each culture.

Ravindra proceeds to take a good look at the traditional folkloric beliefs and practices deemed to be therapeutic one way or another in different circumstances of personal and social life, particularly by rural folk (chapter 4). It is a very thorough presentation of the plethora of mythical beliefs, and socio-religious rituals connected mostly with Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. Here it becomes very clear that dramatherapy in particular has to be culture specific, eliciting the meanings that the client/patient attaches to them.

Though the chapter is titled “Mythic Performance”, it could have been better termed “The Mythic Framework of Meaning”.

Case studies

In the next chapter (chapter 5) Ravindra gets down to brasstacks – and here the title is very appropriate: “Dramatherapy Practice”. Instead of a description of the practice, here we have a number of case studies of the author himself, which makes clear what the practice is all about; It is a presentation referring to specific places, events and disorders. It gives us a good idea of how dramatherapy works.

Chapter 6 on “Therapeutic Interventions” by Liana Lowenstein is a variation on “Dramatherapy Practice” but with a detailed description of the methodology.

Each therapeutic intervention is categorised into Goals, Materials and Description, which clarifies the methodology in detail. The two short, chapters 7 and 8 give more examples of the methodology.

Chapter (No. 3) “Conducting Dramatherapy Sessions” by Sally Bailey could have come logically after chapter 6, allowing a smooth flow between chapters 2, 4 and 5.

It is obvious that an enormous amount of work, both study and practice, has gone into this work. Its special value lies in the fact that it is, more than a conceptual introduction to the subject, a laying-bare of the modus operandi based on the actual practice of it by the author. Ravindra deserves the highest accolades for this pioneering and ground-breaking work. It will remain as a standard reference source book on the subject for a long time to come.

http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2013/06/02/mon20.asp

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One thought on “Book Reviews

  1. Dear sir,
    My name is Nadeeka ,a counselor at an International school.
    I’m interested in following Certificate course in Drama therapy course.
    Please send me the starting date of the next batch.

    Thank you,
    Regards,
    Nadeeka

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