An Example of Integral Pedagogy

by Lynn Feldman

Note: Please only respond to this thread if you have read the full JITP article linked above.

Based on Integral Theory, the practice of Integral Education is emerging as a viable and practical discipline. This article demonstrates how an instructor can begin to operate within the AQAL framework by first focusing on the quadrants. Detailed examples of using the quadrants as a pedagogical tool are provided in the context of a senior high school sociology course. In addition, the role of an Integral educator is explored in the context of Integral practices they might employ based on the four quadrants. Although the article presents an application of the AQAL framework within a high school curriculum, the Integral principles in use are instructive for other educational settings using an Integral approach.

Dear Corey
Are the four quadrants the only dimension in integral theory that can be applied as a teacher?
From what you say, I completely agree! But I’m wondering if the “states-dimension” can be also used.
Also, as a future teacher, the interesting part about considering Integral Theory’s possible role in teaching and educating, is a contradiction: is “bildung” (I translate it to “individuation”) something that one can be educated in? Or is individuation something developmental? I’d love to hear your thoughts, Corey.
As always, thank you so much for the insight and awesome formulation and presentation/run-through!
Happy holidays :slight_smile:

I think your point @soulife is right on target. I love this very simple diagram image for school kids.

I say we need to teach people how to learn and how to think … not what to learn and what to think. For our SJW’s and Woke thinkers, although I consider myself both of these things, these Integral Pedagogy ideas of "how to" vs "what to" may not be a comfortable fit?

However, this is an example of the spiritual technologies and integral innovations I have referenced here and elsewhere. Imagine a scene of kids learning about voting. We explain math statistics and how to measure things scientifically. We create a story line for content for a video to share with other teachers.

Integral 1 We introduce a scenario and a work session where kids actually vote. What’s your favorite color - what’s the classes favorite color? We teach mathematics of statistical analysis.

Integral 2 We then introduce some spiritual dissonance like some voted more that once … Now asking is this fair, why or why not? How should this be handled? Require the students to comment as individuals back to the teacher in writing.

After everyone has responded the teacher leads a group discussion based on what was received from the students. Without attaching anything to anyone specifically, discuss the ideas and get everyone in the group to make public comments to find common ground among the collective.

Integral 3 Next we up-level the thinking with deeper integral concepts, like some pressured others to sway their vote … someone threw away someone’s votes … etc. Let the kids integrally sort out these discrepancies on their own, let everyone again weigh in again in writing to the teacher.

Integral 4 Next we introduce these integral complications from the kids written replies and repeat the process. Let the teachers lead with deeper more probing questions to let the class learn how to learn together. Making sure every ones views are accommodated in the discussion.

Please proceed down this integral rabbit hole. while AI may never answer everything, spiritual/integral AI automating something this can help lead a path toward integral transformation, both as individuals and as collectives. Could this lead to an integral class community/collective view that accommodates everyone’s understanding?

On the topic of Spiritual Technologies, this is just one small integral curriculum that expands on the idea of AIs answering our deepest spiritual questions. Now imagine we all collaborate here together to develop these types of innovations across multiple disciplines and multiple perspectives? Could we do one? Could we do one a month, or even one a week?

If this type of spiritual technology inspires you I want to know because it inspires me too. I’m ready to do something beyond just intellectually analyzing things. Lets become an influential cause and a tool for an integral upgrade for people everywhere. What do you say?

If you’re a real person and this feels right please speak up! ~ Peace :slight_smile:

Hi @soulife, great question. I would imagine that all of the features of integral theory can and maybe should be applied as a teacher — quadrants, levels, lines, states, and types. The question, I think, is really something like “which elements should I make explicit, and which should remain implicit?” And I think this largely depends on who you are teaching — that is, the overall kosmic address(es) of the student(s).

There are some aspects of integral thinking that I believe can be taught, just like critical thinking can be taught. I am thinking specifically of polarity work, which in many ways is the kind of thinking that produces things like integral theory in the first place. Of course, just like critical thinking, the student’s ability to learn and apply the methodology depends on their overall maturity — folks with amber cognition typically have a hard time with critical thinking, just like folks at orange may have a hard time with polarity thinking. But I personally believe things like these can be taught in skillful ways to just about any altitude, even if in the end it’s just creating a trail of breadcrumbs for the student to follow once their interiors ripen a bit more.

Another thing, which I think gets to the heart of your question — are we trying to teach integral theory itself, or are we trying to use integral theory to teach any number of other subjects? In many ways, the latter is more interesting and important to me. Folks at pre-integral stages simply don’t need integral theory. It is, by and large, irrelevant for them (though there may be some aspects that light them up, and can become for them a sort of new hand-hold for future transformation). But using integral theory to both organize our own teachings, and to assess the room you are teaching to, feels like it would be incredibly valuable for the teacher. It can help them assess the overall altitude of their audience, wherever they happen to be, so they can tailor their teaching accordingly. It can help teachers tap into their students’ interior states that are more conducive to learning. It can help teachers remember that different typologies may require different educational approaches. Etc. So whether you are a kindergarten teacher, a high school teacher, or a university teacher, I think that the integral map is absolutely indispensable for all kinds of teachers, regardless of who or what they are teaching.

And when it comes to teaching integral itself, I have found that different altitudes often have common allergies around certain elements of the theory. For example, Orange can often hang with stages of development (yay, another race I can maybe someday win!), but often reject the four quadrants (because only physical observable reality should be considered really “real”.) On the other hand, Green is typically allergic to stage models (it’s a hierarchy, after all, and green hates hierarchy) while often being more receptive to the four quadrants (green is super good at including interiors and noticing things like cultural constructs).

Hi @soulife, I’m starting to sketch out ideas for something like “Integral Theory for Teachers”. One thing that comes up right away is this will be different for adult education vs. adolescent vs elementary level. Do you have a particular age or grade level focus in mind? Also, at the adult education level, subject area matters. Teaching methods for STEM need to be different than teaching methods for humanities or creative arts, for example. Ken Wilber cites work on multiple intelligences, so that’s another thing to keep in mind.

On the theme of Integral Pedagogy, here are some milestones on my personal journey in this direction.

Last summer in the context of trying to integrate anti-racism perspectives into adult education for STEM, I encountered the work of bell hooks. This passage from Teaching to Transgress really grabbed me:

“To educate as the practice of freedom is a way of teaching that anyone can learn. That learning process comes easiest to those of us who teach who also believe there is an aspect of our vocation that is sacred; who believe that our work is not merely to share information but to share in the intellectual and spiritual growth of our students. To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential …”

As Ken Wilber has pointed out on numerous occasions, terms like “sacred”, “spiritual”, and “soul” are an uncomfortable fit with Western scientific education and with our institutions of higher education in general. bell hooks experienced that discomfort in her undergraduate work at Stanford, among other experiences, and went on to develop a critical pedagogy, inspired by Paulo Freire, Thich Nhat Hahn, and others.

There might be a temptation to start altitude-labeling bell hooks, but I would prefer to take her at her word and work outward from there. To me, her quote above seems less “woke” than awakening. It seems very clear the teacher she is calling for is someone who is growing up, waking up, and cleaning up. Without a strong spiritual or at least psychologically self-reflective practice in the UL quadrant, it’s hard to imagine a teacher sharing with students in the way bell hooks advocates.

Beyond bell hooks, however, you can’t really do STEM without systems thinking, so although I continue to explore alternative frameworks, Integral Theory is at least plausible as a way to work holistically with students (UL-LL work) in content areas more associated with UR and LR quadrants.