Carmen Viktoria Gamper is an inspired self-directed learner and founder of New Learning Culture. She shares simple guidelines for child-centered education and non-invasive teaching. She combines extensive academic training with experience and intuition to accompany parents and teachers towards joyful sustainable education.
Carmen was teacher and pedagogical director at two alternative Montessori schools, a.k.a. Wild-inspired schools, in Europe. She was invited by the leadership of the Kinderhaus Miteinander in Woergl (Austria) to re-create the elementary school’s learning environment and re-write the mission statement which helped the alternative school being awarded the status of an accredited school. In her hometown of Merano (Italy), she was teacher and pedagogical director at a private alternative Montessori School, and helped develop their self-directed learning environments.
After her degree in literature/linguistics for pedagogy, Carmen absolved a Montessori teacher training with Claus-Dieter Kaul who founded the ‘Institut für Ganzheitliches Lernen’ (Institute for Holistic Learning) in support of a new wave of enhanced Montessori teacher training in Europe. She studies with Rebeca and Mauricio Wild (Pestalozzi School, Ecuador), two of the world’s foremost promoters of self-directed learning, and recently completed a Permaculture Design Course.
As a true self-directed learner, passionate for childhood education, Carmen has acquired knowledge and skills from educational approaches such as the Steiner/Waldorf schools, the Reggio Emilia-approach, Friedrich Froebel, Célestin Freinet, Forest Kindergarten, Boris and Lena Nikitin, democratic schools, such as Summerhill and Sudbury. She is learning from visiting schools worldwide, talking with teachers, school founders, children and parents; from reading original writings, cutting-edge literature, current media; attending countless talks, webinars, and workshops including Mindfulness in Education, Essential Parenting, Positive Discipline, non-directive play therapy, nature education, and Non-Violent Communication.
She has proven her ability to share her skills in an easy and fun way in the U.S. and in Europe to help fulfill her client’s purpose: nurturing children on all levels – physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, and thus bring joy to learning.
She is also a Pranic Healer (non-certified), and is studying with Grand Master Choa Kok Sui and Master Sai Choletti. http://www.pranichealing.org
A personal letter from Carmen:
During the early part of my life I was not at all interested in children and the world children live in. On the contrary, I thought that childhood is a stage of life in which we are not able to contribute anything valuable to society; we are just loud and silly, and a ‘pain in the neck’ at family reunions. I thought children needed training, and constantly given orders so that they do not break anything, hurt themselves or offend somebody. I really could not see their innate intelligence. That was probably because I had not yet seen children move freely with dignity in a self-directed learning environment.
Luckily, divine synchronicity brought me to the S.O.S. International Village of Children in Trento, Italy, which is a holiday resort for orphans from all over Europe. Various kinds of activities (theatre, music, handicraft, painting) had been structured by a wonderful Montessori teacher, Ulli Schindl. She made all activities freely accessible at certain times. The children could choose spontaneously what felt ideal for them in the moment.
I went to the S.O.S. village to work as a translator and story-teller for four summers in a row. For the first time, I had the opportunity to just be, and observe hundreds of children move when they are not being directed. I experienced sudden illumination and deep understanding, seeing clearly that there was perfect intelligence in the children’s self-chosen activities. I intuitively sensed that these children were moving according to a logic which was interlocked with their environment.
Most of these children had experienced deep trauma by losing their parents. So, whenever the environment was safe and loving enough, they immediately used the opportunity to tell their personal story and cry and hug and be held. Using the safe space I provided with my simple presence and loving attention, they released their emotional tension. This was clearly their priority. Before they could go and play and learn anything and interact meaningfully with their environment, their emotional body had to released some of its stored trauma.
During this time, spent observing so many children, I began to see the inherent intelligence in their spontaneous activities. And so my path started. Through research I found out that I am not the only or the first one to discover the mysterious order and harmony in spontaneous learning processes. Maria Montessori’s original writings became my greatest inspiration. I did a Montessori-teacher training at the Institut für Ganzheitliches Lernen, Institute for Holistic Learning, with its founder, Claus-Dieter Kaul, in Munich, Germany. He founded this institute in support of a new wave of enhanced Montessori teacher training in Europe. I studied with Rebeca and Mauricio Wild, founders of the Pesta a school based on active learning in Ecuador. The Wilds are leading researchers and promoters of self-directed learning. I went on to be the pedagogical director of an alternative Montessori-school in Austria, and then I co-created the Die Pfütze – La Pozzanghera Montessori school in my home town, Merano, in Northern Italy. From these experiences, a vision of learning based on unconditional love and compassionate communication emerged. I know now that everything a child does is an important stepping stone in their development toward the most healthy organism possible. Wishing to share this vision with many people, I established New Learning Culture.
As a devoted self-directed learner, fueled by my own curiosity, I studied numerous educational systems. I visit schools, listen to teachers and children, keep myself updated with cutting-edge research, workshops, and traditional books on education. I studied Reggio Emilia preschools and kindergarten, many kinds of Waldorf and Montessori schools, Summerhill, Sudbury and more. Each of these schools include self-directed learning to some degree and provide hands-on learning materials.
I am grateful for all educators who are able to truly connect with children to create a more child-friendly world.
— Carmen Gamper