Integral Education


@Michelle What exactly did these “betweeners” do, or get taught (was that the social entrepreneurs)?

@bjbrown That sounds like some really good stuff.


The program was setup in business and entrepreneurship classes, so that was the basic curriculum. I came in as a directed project support person so instead of doing “mock business” projects or internships that are about making coffee and copies, the kids got to run “real world mock projects”. The businesses incorporated a lot of the ideas and we learned a lot about the new needs of the upcoming market…these kids are different.

Working in this direct way we can also meet the emergent needs quicker. The thing I saw was so much education reform is directed at what was wrong with the education of the people who are now reforming. They are responding to their childhood needs not met instead of the needs of the kids today. The other issues is we are trying to find a one system solution,“reform the broken system”. This is where we need integral because reforming the system is not what is needed at all. What we need are multiple systems.

Reestablishing apprenticeship models is a great solution and will meet a certain population perfectly. Integrally, we are pulling back into the system the traditional level. Modern education is great and not broken in the least for those needing that modern path to law, medicine, finance, engineering, etc.

There are a world of people who fall between and they need a integral system. They need self exploration to find their path that may not be so clear cut but in a directed way that isn’t going to bankrupt them or leave them floundering for decades.

Using integral models we can work with this population in an explorative way where we discover the emergent needs of business, non-profits, government agencies, etc and design programs to meet those needs in real time. A collaborative, co-creative work force development program.

I have the state on board, I just needed people and funding:)!!!


Cant the state provide the funding or does it have to grants?


I thought a bit more about the direct question…what was taught? Nothing really, there was no exact “knowledge from on high” that was being imparted to them. Instead I provided a creative space for them to explore.

What was produced was kids engaging themselves with the program. I had kids who loved music writing songs. Kids interested in AR design app ideas. Industrial design projects where they worked with other professors outside the class and when they hit the limitations of the school they reached out to colleges for help. They made movies, designed Snap Chat filters. I had one group design a coffee bus. I had a community garden project. Kids engaging their churches with outreach programs.

They really got into it. It was wild to watch them go from being bored lumps sitting in chairs to electrified designers and collaborators in the space of a semester. I don’t really know what I was “teaching them”:slight_smile:


There is money at the state level, but without help I don’t have the direct knowledge of education to move forward. I think the state money wont be enough and I would have to supplement with grants and corporate support. I don’t think it would be hard to get, but again, I need help doing all of that.

I have a university interested, so it may still move forward. Stalled but not dead yet!


As far a design goes (assuming you had all the funding and support you would need) how would your design be different than what is currently being offered?


Some of this type of questioning is where I need that orange expertise because I am not an educator so I have no idea how to answer that and the process that governments and education goes through for funding is something that requires a language system that I am not interested in learning, I’m too old:) My partner was doing this part, but she has personal stuff that’s making her unavailable.

But this is what’s interesting to me about integral and designing new systems. There is a internal language system in everything, so education and governments have this system of “evidence base” proof of concept stuff to demonstrate what you are doing and how its better and so forth. My field does not. How do you know something is better in design, you feel it.

How did I walk into the Georgia DOE and in one hour walk out with a statewide pilot, I think because they could feel it. That system in my field makes total sense, but my partner was completely thrown off balance by it because its a lot faster to feel difference than prove it. She kept saying “that never happens, you never walk into one meeting with DOE and get a statewide pilot”. She thought this would take a year, it took an hour.

I am applying my design system to education. I think this is what is needed for systemic change, it’s not about reworking systems in the same way with the same processes , it’s about integrating different processes into systems, its a cross pollination of different meaning making systems.

It’s been interesting. It may not go anywhere, but we will see…


What field are you in?


I’m an architect. ////


Maybe the equivalence to evidence based is to make sure your design is structurally sound?


One question that can be considered when trying to innovate is to evaluate the risk in trying. In my profession, if the risk is someone dying, we aren’t legally allowed to do something unproven there, but if the risk is a cracked countertop or a leaky roof, go for it, get innovative. Wild innovative work is built all the time!

Really, what’s the harm with taking one class and going full Frank Gehry with the kids:) Get weird, get wild, you may discover something quite spectacular! I get this is tricky, but I think this is a moment in our history when we need to start taking some risk.


I met yesterday with someone who did a beautifully done program sponsored by the Dalai Lama, very integral. Slow going getting it out there, and I really do know how arrogant and foolish I sound, but I have no fear with sounding foolish and I am self deprecating enough to hopefully counter the arrogant, but I know exactly what they need to do with it. Her interest was piqued and she wants to continue meeting, so who knows…I believe with everything in me the time is now to be bold! Binocular building bold!


I don’t think you sound arrogant and foolish. By all means, ride the wave you are on…


Just plugging integralist Zak Stein’s new book, Education in a Time Between Worlds. Check out this great podcast interview about it.

Our world is currently undergoing major transformations, from climate change and politics to agriculture and economics. The world we have known is disappearing and a new world is being born. The subjects taught in schools and universities today are becoming irrelevant at faster and faster rates. Not only are we facing complex challenges of unprecedented size and scope, we’re also facing a learning and capacity deficit that threatens the future of civilization.

Education in a Time Between Worlds seeks to reframe this historical moment as an opportunity to create a global society of educational abundance. Educational systems must be transformed beyond recognition if humanity is to survive the planetary crises currently underway. Human development and learning must be understood as the Earth’s most valuable resources, with human potential serving as the open frontier into which energy and hope can begin to flow.


Thanks for the recommendation.
Just ordered it.


I’ve been a teacher in elementary and secondary schools. I’ve taught in public and private systems in Canada, Germany and now Belgium. The topic of Integral Education has been a big theme for me for a decade now. I have plenty I could say. I know the following post is long but I hope it is helpful.

I co-host the Reinventing Education podcast. I’ll condense 10 hours of our podcast into a few key ideas:

Nationwide education systems that are open/mandatory to all citizens are a relatively new cultural idea. It emerged in the 1770s in Prussia.

125 years later, essentially every country on the planet adopted the Prussian model.

Nationwide schooling is something we require all citizens to spend the majority of their childhood/adolescence in. It is our modern social-cultural incubator.

Nationwide Schooling has 3 aims:

  1. Occupational preparation (which can include getting you ready for the next stage of schooling)
  2. Cultivation of Citizenship
  3. Self-Development

How and what this looks like is influenced by our value (stage).

On our podcast we use the following values to describe the stages Security (amber/blue), Achievement (orange), Sensitivity (green) & Integrative (Yellow/teal).

Nationwide education emerged out of a Security value which over time has shifted toward being organized by Achievement.

Report cards and marks were not present in schools until the mid 1890s. At Security, showing up and taking part in what was being asked of you was considered enough.

With the focus on Achievement school became a meritocracy. Everyone got the same one size fits all curriculum, you as a student can achieve and earn your way up the social ladder either by demonstrating your natural gifts or working hard to compensate.

School attempted to objectively assess merit via scores. We "teach" you, then test you and see what percentage of it you got.

Ultimately, this is where our nationwide school system are still operating from.

The Sensitivity value has critiqued orange by demonstrating how unfair & biased the one size fits all approach to content and learning was, how little grades and standardized tests take into account about a person and how arbitrary and meaningless school subjects can be to the individual’s. Sensitivity has brought in differentiated instruction (meaning students in the same grade can have different content, level of challenge and assignments for the same topic). The Sensitivity value has allowed more student choice with regard to what interests them and how they’d like to study it. This makes orange uniform marking and assessment nearly impossible. Sensitivity has also done interesting work to deconstruct subjects areas into collections of interdisciplinary “transcendent skills”, check out the IB system or the Finnish school system for examples.

The big shift that needs to happen to truly get from orange centric education to green on a national level is the ability to transcend but include school ultimately being about preparing kids for the next step in the system. As long as we rely on schools (from primary to university) primarily to sort students for academic programs and the workforce, we are bound to meeting orange’s needs. The reduction of someone to their marks makes the sorting of an entire country’s population relatively efficient. There is hope as we see a slow collapse of trust in standardized testing, changes to college admissions procedures and the scrutiny of the validity and equality of grades across a country. We have a long way to go to get the center of gravity to green.

Yellow/Teal Integrative education is emerging and we have spoken with a handful of institutions on our podcast that we feel are actually eeking out what integral ed looks like. All of whom seemed to be well versed in Integral already.

I think it’s easy to be hypnotized by the idea that we just need to change the content of what is taught and the activities we do to make education integral.

Brendan (my co-host) and I think it needs to happen across all 4 quadrants of school.

Where do you find school?

We think you find school in the 4 quadrants.

We have identified 4 aspects (quadrants) that interact:

UL: reactions/beliefs of the individuals involved

LL: communities and culture

UR: practices and resources

LR: systems and environments

What each looks like is informed by a value. What’s interesting is that we believe we are seeing that within a school, different stages/values can potentially be calling the shots in each quadrant.

So the blue/amber, orange and green iterations of school all have gifts and downfalls.

Yellow/teal education seems to attempt to discern the babies from the bathwater of the previous stages depending on the context.

So basically you have school’s aims.

How we go about them are informed by the value (stage) and what that looks like can be seen across the quadrants.

I say all of this because I think true expressions of integral education can use this framework to intentionally create something that is responsive and a better fit for our current context.

I’d be happy to share about my work on how I teach integral to 8-10 year olds.

Perhaps if there is enough interest we could connect on a Zoom call, as explaining it via text doesn’t seem like the optimal medium.

Any interest in how I helps kids to use types, quadrants, lines, levels and stages to write a story?

  • Rob



If I understand right I think yes to both of your bottom inquiries. Would love to get a zoom call in. I won’t be available till after the first week of August, though.
Also, on Discord we are in the planning stage of putting together an anthology of integral thinkers. Sounds like a great chapter.


@rmacleodb 1 out of 10 , 10 being very emphasized, How much are states emphasized in today’s education?


A great book I would recommend is antisocial behavior in school, evidence based practices by Hill M Walker, Elizabeth Ramsey and Frank Gresham: "the definition of emotional disturbance incorporated into federal legislation authorizing special education services specifically excluded students whose behavior patterns could be characterized as “socially maladjusted”. “Today, antisocial students are widely perceived to fit this profile of the maladjusted student.” The book makes a great case for why schools should start to recognize antisocial behavior as special ed and give the services they need.


My first child was born July 27th so I see my online activity has chnaged since then. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

I’d say the only areas I see where states are being considered in public school education are:

-meditation/calming techniques in service of greater performance on tests (orange influence).

-meditation techniques for student well being (green influence).

In my homeroom class we start the day with a 1 minute “focus pratice” where students put their hand on their stomachs and are asked to build their focus muscle by focusing on their breath. We discuss how your mind will likely start to talk and either talk about the past, narrate & wonder about what’s happening now or start planning for the future.
After the minute is up I give students 60 seconds to talk with someone near them about what they “noticed about their noticing today”.

Morning rituals like this seem to be discussed more and more in educational circles for the positive benefits it has on student’s emotional states.