The Paradigm of Unity in Prenatal Education and Pedagogy

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The traditional approach to the relation between parents and their prenatal child presents the child as a fetus, a mainly passive recipient of the mother’s vital biological resources. Contemporary prenatal psychology and pedagogy recognizes this relationship in a quite different perspective: the prenatal child is a member of the family and may be seen as an active member of the wider family as a community, extended to grandparents and other relatives. Between parents and their child in the womb exists a reciprocal relationship at a physiological (hormonal), psychological and spiritual level. The prenatal child communicates with the parents in different ways and reacts to their stimulation (acoustic, tactile, loco-motoric, chemo-receptive, thermo-receptive, and emotional). This dialogue of the parents and their prenatal child enriches each member of the family community. In this sense, the prenatal child is a gift and a challenge for the parents to develop their personality, social competences and spiritual life. The reflections presented in this paper fit the conception of the paradigm of unity applied into the area of prenatal education and prenatal pedagogy as a new pedagogical subdisciline.

The concept of paradigm in the philosophy of science was introduced by T. Kuhn (1962). In his understanding, paradigm means a mental breakthrough in the way of ujmowaniu/describing/approaching the subject of study, and/or in the research methods used, but above all in the theoretical and systemic vision of reality, which is the basis for formulating research questions and hypotheses, operationalising the research procedure, analyzing the obtained research results and a theoretical interpretation of these results. To Kuhn, a paradigm may be understood in such way only in the natural sciences, when new visions of the studied natural reality appear. This is accompanied by a mental change in the cognitive schema itself of understanding reality not only for the creator of this vision, but also in its/his/her broader scientific environment. Kuhn considered the most eminent example of such appearing paradigm in the history of science to be the Copernican revolution, thanks to which the view on the world of nature surrounding the human being has completely changed and there was a mental breakthrough in the 15th and 16th century not only in the area of science, but also in the worldview of people of those times, for whom the world has become more open and broad. Kuhn, however, did not consider a paradigm to be a methodological concept in the humanities or social sciences. He was of the opinion that they must first mature more and make their methodological status more precise if one wishes to talk about a paradigm in these sciences.

A scientific event that gave an occasion to reflect on the possibility of introducing the concept of paradigm into social sciences was the occasion of granting the title of doctor honoris causa in the field of social sciences by the Catholic University of Lublin to Chiara Lubich. The Focolare movement, also called The Movement of Unity, founded and led by her, introduced, a new approach to the area of human relations at every level (interpersonal, family, local society, economic relations, intra- and inter-denominational dialogue). The arguments for granting the title included the fact that the practical activity of Ch. Lubich in various areas of social integration may be described as a Copernican revolution in the cultural-religious relations, and even in social-economical ones, according to the new paradigm, understood practically, which may be called a paradigm of unity. It was stressed that these activities may play a serious/significant inspiring role in the methodological reflections on the paradigm of unity in the social sciences (Biela, 1996). Such reflections were actually brought up first generally in the social sciences (Biela, 2006), and then within the methodology of psychology (Biela, 2009) and education (Kozubek, 2009). At present, one may consider introducing this paradigm into prenatal education and pedagogy.

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