The ”I” of the Beholder: A Guided Journey to the Essence of a Child by Annemarie Roeper is an amazing book. Annemarie Roeper spent a lifetime working with children. She was very sensitive to their needs and found delight in their beautiful Selves.1 Over the years, she began to see her daily experiences from the perspective of the children.2
“Whatever we experience is from within the “I” of the beholder.”3
Annemarie Roeper’s message is that we need to create environments where children can flourish, rather than just adjusting to the demands of the system.4 Relationships are the basis of all emotional, intellectual, and physical growth.5 Every experience adds something to the growth and causes a change in the Self. Habits are established as the Self grows older, often as a necessary form of self-protection.6
“We must replace strategies and intervention with relationships and empathy.”7
Annemarie Roeper’s belief is that in its essence, the energy of the Self is positive. This means that the negative or destructive actions that a person feels compelled to take are the result of suppression and injury to the Self. The healthy reaction of the Self is to defend itself.8 Conflict emerges when a child’s inner agenda, is interrupted, disregarded, or denied.9
“We are motivated to fulfill the needs of the “I” of our innermost being.”10
We have failed to understand our Selves and what life is.11 All living beings are defined by what they feel themselves to be.12 Every action is, in the end, motivated by our inner agenda and how life appears to us. The Self is an autonomous decision-maker. 13 Only when we achieve inner satisfaction can we truly understand our interdependence and interconnectedness to each other.14
“Learning is an active process. We cannot force a child to learn any more than we can force someone to eat.”15
Annemarie Roeper developed an alternative set of goals for education, where the survival and growth of the Self, as well as the connection to other Selves, is the highest priority. All Selves need to be rooted in supportive relationships.16 The goals of a cooperative education community include:17
- To protect the equal rights of each member.
- To create opportunities to develop skills, attitudes, and the emotional acceptance of cooperation and interdependence.
- To help members attain their goals.
- To allow the unhindered growth of Selves.
- To develop a curriculum that will support self-actualization and interdependence.
- To see the whole of the community.
- To develop an understanding of the interdependent community.
- To see the community as a circle of interdependence, rather than a hierarchy of dependency.
- To see oneself as a member of the community.
- To see oneself as a valuable and valued member of the community.
Annemarie Roeper sees the implementation of these principles as planting a seed, which needs to grow through the community of learners. The implementation of these principles can have far-reaching ramifications way beyond the realm of education.18
Annemarie Roeper’s approach to education is useful for organizing in general! The book is not only a guided journey to the essence of a child, but to the essence of ourselves as human beings.
1 Annemarie Roeper, The ”I” of the Beholder: A Guided Journey to the Essence of a Child (Great Potential Press, 2007), p.61.
2 Ibid., p.59.
3 Ibid., p.109.
4 Ibid., p.81.
5 Ibid., p.6.
6 Ibid., p.37.
7 Ibid., p.40.
8 Ibid., p.43.
9 Ibid., p.45.
10 Ibid., p.87.
11 Ibid., p.6.
12 Ibid., p.87.
13 Ibid., p.89.
14 Ibid., p.87.
15 Ibid., p.97.
16 Ibid., p.89.
17 Ibid., pp.99–100.
18 Ibid., p.100.