At Carmel Mountain Preschool one of our core values is that, “We strive for excellence.” We feel that part of striving for excellence includes continuous learning and growing. Whenever we come across an individual that we feel can impart wisdom to our staff and parents we try and make sure we can get them to come visit our preschool. Enrique “Hank” Feldman is one of those individuals and we are excited to welcome him to Carmel Mountain Preschool in September. Please enjoy the following interview with Enrique and please feel free to explore his websites, http://www.globallearning.foundation/, https://hankfeldman.com/ and www.enriquecfeldman.com.
Where did you grow up? Do you have siblings?
I was born and grew up in Tucson, AZ until the age of five. My family then moved to San Diego, where I grew up through 6th grade. I have great memories of attending school at Hearst Elementary. We then moved to Hermosillo, Mexico for a year and then back to Tucson. I am so thankful to my parents and my extended family for having provided such a happy childhood. I had two brothers, the youngest who passed away nine years ago. My other brother is Ted, or as I call him Teddy. You may have seen Teddy on TV. He’s an actor based in NYC. He goes by Teddy Cañez and has been on shows like HBO’s The Wire and on Broadway with A Streetcar Named Desire.
I am the very proud father of two children. My daughter, Sam (23), who is a children’s author and choral conductor and my son, Nick (19), who is interested in business and the cosmos. I have had the great pleasure of raising them with my talented and loving wife, Marie Sierra. Marie is a concert pianist and I’ll always be forever grateful to her for teaching me how to dance salsa!
Is there anything in your childhood that really formed what your passion is today?
Absolutely! At the age of four I asked to play piano and ever since that moment my life has been immersed in music, the Arts, and artistic approaches to learning and living. My early experiences with music taught me about the world, myself, and different cultures. Music is in me and I love to share it with others in many ways.
What is the global learning foundation?
The Global Learning Foundation is a non-profit organization I founded in 2000. Initially it was known as the F.A.M.E. Foundation (Fostering Arts-Mind Education), and as we expanded our services geographically it made sense to change the name. The Foundation is a service oriented organization which partners with schools and community-based organizations. We are known for our innovative and artistic approaches to learning. We offer a lot of professional development for teachers and parents, and we work directly with children/students in ways which ignite curiosity and a strong desire to learn.
Why did you create the global learning foundation?
Great question! I created the foundation because I felt frustrated with traditional approaches to “educating someone.” I felt learning should be a much more active and collaborative experience. Before I founded the Foundation, I was a Professor of Music and Education at the University of Arizona. While there were aspects of that experience I greatly enjoyed, I felt the calling to start something that would allow me more flexibility and creativity.
Did you have any one event that really encouraged you to work with children or changed how you work with children?
Yes. During my sophomore year as a music education and music performance major at the University of Arizona, I took an early childhood music class with Dr. David Woods. As part of that class we had the experience of working with young children in a music setting which invited the children to explore their world with music. We each had to come up with a lesson plan. I quickly abandoned the lesson plan as I realized I needed to attend to the interests and needs of the children. I loved it! Years later I reflected on this experience and today a large percentage of the Foundation’s work is with young children… thank you Dr. Woods!
What are the easiest things parents can implement in their home to make a positive difference in their child’s life?
Million Dollar question! Here is a starter list:
- Ask your children more questions rather than making statements. Questions can lead to authentic dialogue, especially open-ended questions.
- Practice Yoga with your children… so many benefits.
- Play… really play with your children… Play is a bridge to learning and to quote Einstein, “Play is the highest form of research.”
- Read to your children and then progress to reading with your children.
- Engage your children in storytelling. You can use a book and then take any number of tangents from characters and/or events which happen in the book. This can easily lead to children creating their own stories. I did this with my daughter when she was four and today we have created a children’s book series based on those ideas. Today my little girl is twenty-three…. check out our stories if you’d like at www.SamTheAnt.com
- Remember that there are critical things which precede academic learning and you already know what they are: compassion, perspective, kindness and much more!
- Cook with Coconut Oil… really… a game changer.
What is the most common challenge that you come across with children? How do you address that challenge?
Children have become some of my greatest mentors… you heard that correctly. I have learned so much from children. Based on feedback from thousands of teachers and parents I’ve worked with one of the greatest challenges adults have with children is, “What do I do with their energy?!” Sometimes this presents itself as what may be perceived as a “behavioral challenge”. I could go on for some time with how I help others address this challenge.
Here is a simple description of how I handle these “energy” or “behavioral” challenges:
- Re-direct their energy. Don’t attempt to control it.
- Re-directing includes authentic collaboration, as in co-creating something.
- When any learner is included in the making of something they feel valued and they begin to grow in profound ways.
What is the most surprising parenting or teacher challenge that you seem to come across?
This shouldn’t surprise me anymore, but something which still surprises me is how some parents and teachers underestimate what a child is capable of doing and learning. I grew up with parents and grandparents who taught me that anything was possible… with work of course. Children are amazing. They are open and are so interested in being our co-researchers, co-learners, co-cooks, and on and on.
What is your intent for what you are doing? Or Why were you put on this earth?
I now know why I am here. As a young child and teen I believe I was here to become a band director, and I did that at two universities. As I continued to grow, I felt like I was here to write music for movies, which I also have done. I continued to grow and noticed that I enjoyed creating and connecting. I also noticed that it “wasn’t the thing… it was how you did the thing.” I am here on planet earth to help others connect more deeply with who they are, what they can produce, and how they go about it.
What inspires you?
Many things inspire me. I believe it is our perspective which can allow us to be inspired on a daily basis. I am inspired by greatness, beauty in all its forms, grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, single moms who are raising their children, teachers who bring their best every day, adults who take the time to really talk with children, and much more. I am also inspired by a great breakfast which includes potatoes made with love!