Newsletter – August, 1999

**Companion Resources Newsletter**

edited by Paul D. Leichty

Volume 1, No. 8 August 1999

Greetings to all companions on the journey!

I want to thank those of you who responded in a personal way to my last column and to report that my son, Nathan, is on his way to another job very similar to the one he had. In another few weeks we will know more about how this is working out. We are grateful for these developments.

This month, I want to feature the subject of Gentle Teaching. I’ve struggled a bit to know where to put this subject on the Companion Resources web site since it relates to disabilities, mental illness, and health issues faced by the elderly (and probably more categories that that!). So I’ve decided to create a separate page for it at


with links to this page from the disabilities and the mental illness sections of Companion Resources.

One of the most remarkable movements I have encountered in my journey with persons with disabilities and mental illness is called Gentle Teaching. Gentle Teaching began with a book by that title by John J. McGee with the sub-title “A Nonaversive Approach for Helping Persons With Mental Retardation.”

In 1991, McGee, along with Frank J. Menolascino wrote a second and more definitive book entitled Beyond Gentle Teaching: A Nonaversive Approach to Helping Those in Need . In this book, McGee radicalized his notion of Gentle Teaching to essentially encompass a completely non-violent approach to helping other people, no matter what their situation. Since that time, he has also clarified his goals of working toward companionship, interdependence, and community.

McGee’s concepts and training workshops have led him to work in institutional and group home settings for persons with disabilities and mental illness, as well as persons in the criminal justice system. He stresses helping persons feel safe and loved rather than trying to modify behavior.

There are some excellent resources on the web to help persons understand and apply the concepts of Gentle Teaching. If you don’t have time to check them out now, please visit the Companion Resources site at some other time to find this listing.

Gentle Teaching International


This is the official home of Gentle Teaching International. There are a wealth of resources here, including articles, stories, a list of persons and institutions for networking, music and video clips, and a bibliography. One of the most remarkable resources is John McGee’s latest book, *Mending Broken Hearts*, published on the web in MS Word format, which summarizes the latest thinking on Gentle Teaching and is available free for the downloading! I have just started reading it and find it very accessible, but challenging. If you go to just one site, this should be it!

Gentle Teaching (Foundation for Gentle Teaching in the Netherlands)

This is the home page of a non-violent approach for helping children and adults with special needs. It is maintained by the Foundation for Gentle Teaching in the Netherlands, but as far as I can tell, is entirely in English. It includes sections entitled as follows:

Basic Values

Quality of Life

Sensory Integration (an important topic!)

Defining the quality of life-profile

Psychology of Interdependence

Personal Teaching Plan.

Short summary of Gentle Teaching

If you want simply a summary statement on Gentle Teaching, then I would commend this one to you. It is from Avenue II Community Program Services, Inc. is a non-profit organization based in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.

Gentleness Network

The beginnings of a network sponsored by Macomb-Oakland Regional Center (MORC), Inc. which is a human services agency serving “men, women and children with differing abilities” in the Detroit metropolitan area. Includes an online edition of the newsletter “Gentle Focus.”

While we are focusing on this topic, let me highlight two sites that are related, but perhaps more focused on teaching peace and non-violence in families, schools, etc. This is a follow-up to my April newsletter in which I responded to the school shootings in Littleton, Colorado and the war in Kosovo.

Teaching Peace

A Not For Profit Agency dedicated to fostering attitudes, skills, and opportunities for living peacefully with self, others, and the earth.

Peace & Justice Committee of the Mennonite Church

Contains a number of resources for families and churches on living a lifestyle of peace.

Gentle Teaching comes out of an environment that is not overtly religious. Yet, for persons like myself who believe that God’s way of peace is shown in Jesus Christ, there is an obvious ultimate source of inspiration for these ideas. It was therefore interesting for me to read the opening words of John McGee’s online book. I’ll close with these words, which he attributes to Luke, but which Luke (the gospel writer in the New Testament of the Bible) attributes to Jesus:

“Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; bless those

who curse you . . . When a man hits you on the cheek, offer

him the other cheek too . . . Treat others as you would like

them to treat you . . . Give and gifts will be given to you .

. . ” (Luke)

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Blessings to all of you in being gentle companions to others in the month to come!

Paul D. Leichty

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