Otilia Todor – The  Story

Otilia Todor – The Story

In 2006 I was an assistant professor in the Faculty of Psychology at Spiru Haret University, and a happy mother of an 8 year old girl.  I was at the beginning of my career in psychology and finding my way as a specialist. 

I had just had an unfortunate experience with my daughter Ioana, whom I knew was an intelligent child and of whom I was very proud – until her teacher called  my husband and me to school asking me to go with her to a psychologist because she felt my daughter had some problems: she explained that when she asks my daughter to speak ‘she thinks a lot and seems to be unable to answer quickly’. You can’t imagine what was going through our mind and soul. I took our daughter to a psychologist who went through a complex psychological assessment. The psychologist told me Ioana has cognitive development above her age, harmoniously developed, and she has the opportunity to do whatever she wants, but it depends on how my husband and I nurture her. I was happy for a moment, but at the same time I started to have some questions: „How will I help my child go to school without fear?  To feel and believe that she has no problem and to help her develop self-confidence?

After one year, I was invited to do some training in Sibiu. That training was held by Jael Kopciowski, from Italy. Her course taught the participants about a new method addressed to children, a method of which we had not heard in Romania; it was about FIE Standard. And so I was introduced to the Feuerstein Method and Professor Reuven Feuerstein.

I was very impressed by this Romanian – who’s photograph made him look like a saint – who now lived in Israel.  At the same time I felt a lot of sadness because Romanian people didn’t know him; our psychologists and psychology students don’t learn about him and don’t know his Method.

When I started working with Feuerstein instruments, I realised that these were the gifts I received as a mother and specialist for my daughter and other children like her. I realised that I finally had something to help her understand what her potential is, to help her feel and live the feeling of competence and to have confidence in her thoughts and her choices. Now, my daughter is a successful young clinical psychologist, who also uses in her clinical practice the Feuerstein Method, working with children with psychiatric diagnoses and learning disorders.

That moment, in Sibiu, I felt this is what I’m going to do with my life, because I want all Romanian specialists to know that there is a structured learning Method by which we’ll teach children how to learn, and with this Method we can support them to be emotionally balanced and to have healthy thoughts; preparing them to later become functional, independent and autonomous adults.

I’ll not stop until Romanian people know Professor Reuven Feuerstein, the one who dedicated his entire life to children, studying intelligence and the developmental psychology.  The one who believed in the change and development potential of people, the one who changed many adults and children lives, the first to create a Method of instrumental learning.

In September 2008, I received a letter from Professor Feuerstein. By that time I had founded the Feuerstein Association in Romania. He wrote to me in Romanian – a language he hadn’t spoken for 65 years and his message included a blessing for me and all those who carry on the Method.  He was glad that  there is an organisation that bears his name in Romaniaand accepted the invitation to become an Honourary Member.  He also promised us his support in all our projects that resemble his. I received from him the intervention plan for my doctoral thesis defended at the Romanian Academy in Bucharest – which was aimed at the Mental Development of Neurotypical Children and Children with Learning Disabilities through the Feuerstein Method.

Two years ago during a visit to the Institute, I listened to a story about the first mediated learning lesson of Professor Feuerstein. When he was 9 years old he taught a 15 year old dyslexic child to read the Kadish prayer on a street in Botosani, Dumbrava Rosie Alley.  He managed to teach a child to read and also to make a family happy. I felt that there was a resemblance between us, because I also believe that we can make life easier for our children and for us because by teaching children to think we teach them to be free. I have passed on this belief to the hundreds of Feuerstein mediators I’ve trained.

Professor Feuerstein believed in my enthusiasm, he wanted us to translate the instruments into Romanian so that these could be used in Moldova, Transylvania and Muntenia, and so many Romanian children are able to be supported in the learning process. Today I feel I’ve fulfilled Professor Feuerstein’s and my dream. The instruments are translated and used throughout Romania; there are over 500 mediators in 23 Romanian counties and several thousand able and disabled children who benefit from Feuerstein Method.       

There were many difficult moments in this whole process, and after 7 years, Professor Alex Kozulin, our coordinator at the Institute, put me in touch with the person who was to become my teacher of Instrumental Enrichment, of mediated learning but also of life. Maricica Haimovici, helped me understand in my mother tongue everything that may not have been clear enough in my mind and made it possible for Romania to be on the world map today.  Through an unimaginable effort she has enabled the Feuerstein Method to be used by 80 countries worldwide. She both guided me in the teaching process and supported me in the implementation process all these years, and today she is here and I thank her with gratitude! During all these years, I had the support not only of Maricica Haimovici, but also of Dr Nistor Becia –  psychologist in the United Kingdom, both members of the Feuerstein Community in Romania, which forms the Feuerstein Association. Of course, today’s event would not have been possible without the support of local authorities. Thank you all, I am deeply grateful!

I believe Professor Feuerstein’s personality is now known throughout Romania, so in his hometown of Botosani, in the pedagogical college, is the most suitable „house” for the great psychologist’ bust.

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