Integral Educators


#1

I’ve received a number of communications recently from educators who are trying to bring integral ideas more fully into the classroom, so I figured I would create a thread where folks can introduce themselves and describe their personal educational approach, and get feedback from other integrally-informed educators.

Please only engage in this thread if you include yourself in that group!

I will send personal invitations to some folks who have been reaching out, and see if we can get some good discussion going in this thread.

In the meantime, here are some Integral Education resources you may be interested in:

https://integrallife.com/category/topics/education/


#2

Corey just made my day by creating this Integral thread for educators!

As an Integralist, I am sure we all see how our educational systems focus on the upper right/objective dimension to almost the bitter exclusion of the others. What’s even more frustrating to me is that most teachers/administrators don’t even realize this. While we all would like to see the curricular frameworks shaped by the four quadrants, school systems aren’t ready to do that and right now I am not exactly sure how that would be done. So I think we have to take baby steps towards this end to make sure people understand what we are talking about.

For my doctoral research in education at Northeastern University, I am proposing a pilot literature-based course that focuses directly on the interplay between the subjective, objective, cultural and systemic ways of knowing. The purpose of this Action Research study is to examine and develop a four-dimensional epistemological literary curricular framework for teachers and students at the secondary school level. The four quadrants will be used as analytical lenses applied to one work of literature, first to expose what these dimensions are and then to see how these dimensions interact and influence each other. This course will help facilitate an awareness of how these dimensions are always simultaneously existing.

So I am wondering if anyone here would be willing to participate in/co-create this course? The estimated time to start is at the beginning of 2023. But I am sure there will be some flexibility.

And I am very happy to support or work with any of you on Integral educator stuff. It might be great to meet just to hear what everyone is working on.

I wrote this article,Beyond Disciplinarity,(https://interdisciplinarystudies.org/integrative-pathways-44-1-beyond-disciplinarity/) which appears in the journal, Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, which explains how I came to understand the importance of the four quadrants in my own life. Sorry, for some reason the hyperlink isn’t working.

I am also willing to provide my resume if that matters. Teaching is my passion, but I have also served as Head of School.

In any case, let’s collaborate to make our schools better for our collective future. I was thinking the Dept. of Education might be better called the Dept. of Ultimate Defense!

Best,

Madeline Raynolds


#3

Hi Madeline,

I feel you on the shortcomings of formalized education missing out on the other quadrants. I integrated (total pun intended :innocent:) the Four Quadrants into my dissertation looking at college students’ moral reasoning on the socioscientific issue of climate change. I’m currently working on an NSF project that studies secondary science education and I’m also looking to include Integral Theory there somehow. Would love to get a broader conversation going on how to get academia, and schooling in general, to see the utility in the many facets of Integral Theory. Perhaps we can organize an event and get other Integral educators involved to look at best practices?


#4

Some Integral Education resources you guys might enjoy:


#5

It’s obvious to me now that I am in great need of collaboration with other integral educators.

As a way of collaborating, I have taken time here to reflect on Feldman’s article. I will probably go through each of these essays that Corey has provided us and do the same. I am dogged, if nothing else.

Amen to what Feldman offers here amazingly 15 years ago and I am recognizing how these ideas are just starting to trickle down. In 2007, I did not have these clearly articulated goals for my classroom, although, I think I intuitively conducted my classes to explicitly include exercises which forced a recognition of the subjective experience. I think it is my discipline of Language Arts which mandated this, because I was teaching writing and recognition of the inner voice is imperative. But somehow I have come to many of Feldman’s same conclusions since then, seemingly on my own. Particularly the reflection on how the Age of Enlightenment wrestled hegemony from the church and how this determination shaped the disciplines and our thinking about reality. The other conclusion with which we agree is the identification of this contemporary time being a Second Axial age.

I love the identification of how we came up with our curricular models based on the different scientific disciplines and what kind of data is collected. Every teacher needs to know this. My concern is that teachers/people aren’t even aware of the origin of the disciplines and the kind of cognitive habits they inculcate. These disciplines are presenting an assumption (by default) that reality may be transcribed by observable measureables. And most of us are unaware of these implications and consequences.

What I read here in Feldman’s essay, is an individual teacher’s account of successful classroom practices. From this account, there can be no doubt that Ms. Feldman is one of those teachers who makes a difference in her students’ lives. The problem is, without some coherence in the rest of the student’s educational experience not only do these skills get lost in a sea of positivist approaches, the lack of coherence may even cause some further confusion, if not interference. What we need to do, it seems to me, is to start working on how the Four Quadrants may actually be the basis of our curricular models. I am still not sure exactly how to do that in this moment, but I think that is the ultimate goal.

I provide an example of this interference with Feldman’s opening question to the class:

“On that first day, I inquire of these young adults what they are most hoping will be the end result of their ten months with me.” This question does remind me of prompts I have used many times in my classes before. The problem with these kinds of questions is, if students have been already conditioned to think that the goal of schooling is to get a good grade, they cannot authentically answer this quest. The “measureable” outcomes (our transcripts) of schooling will always take precedence over the discreet experiences with individual teachers. A kind of “the medium is the message”, if you will. I have been thinking a lot about outcomes as well and have discovered an interesting proposal which: “opportunity freedoms”. I link a paradigm shifting idea by Pierre Bourdieu and Amartya Sen here for those who are curious. Although I realize, being able to grapple with qualitative outcomes as these is even further off.

Feldman offers many excellent class activities. Maybe we could set out to centrally compile these? It might be useful to create a cache of “Integral in the Classroom” lesson plans. We, teachers, love excellent lessons plans that inspire us and our students.

As we organize our knowledge here in the West, I can’t help wondering how our preoccupation on the trajectory of Western civilization might also be limiting. Feldman notes how Interior empiricism goes back to Plato. In addition, I would offer Lu Ji’s “On Literature”, a foundational text in Chinese literary criticism that actually explains this skill in an experiential way. When are we going to integrate the Western worldview with the Eastern? As a side note, I think Bruce Lee had embodied this East-West integration way before his time and somehow, it was not a dichotomy that could be reconciled in the 1970s.

While I may even disagree with some of the characterizations of exactly where Marx, Piaget, Freud, Jung, etc. fit in the quadrants, given my own vantage and how I am perceiving the texts, (For instance, while Marx-Lenin ideologies did favor the exterior-collective, in my interpretation, this preference would in turn improve the individual experience, if the argument were extended.) Regardless, it’s the processes of thinking and the meta-cognition that engagement with the Four Quadrants elicits that is truly the goal now, ie: skills not content.

Borrowing a perhaps tired metaphor, as drops of water in the sea, none of us alone are going to make the difference we need to change the educational tides. You all identify as Integral Educators, so I know I am not just speaking into the wind which is the way I feel in mainstream schools now. Unfortunately, it seems that no one, not even the great Ken Wilber, will be able to do this for us. If our educational systems remain the same, I honestly can’t imagine a viable future. Schools have to fundamentally change and not be subject to what Feldman calls and what we have all experienced as “program of the month”. Piecemeal individual approaches simply don’t work.

When can we get together to talk about our next steps?


#6

Madeline, I would love to be involved. What book are you thinking of starting with? Sandy


#7

Thank you for these resources!


#8

Sandy, thank you so much for your offer. Let’s do this! And, my research still has another 6 months before it starts. We will confer together on a selected text. I am even thinking of perhaps focusing on a well-developed short story in order to minimize participant effort. Educators have too much on their plates already.

I would also be interested in what you are working on.

I echo what djenois1 (Sorry, am I missing your name?) suggested: “Perhaps we can organize an event and get other Integral educators involved to look at best practices?” Perhaps one of the authors of the articles Corey has posted would facilitate such a conversation. What do you think?

With gratitude,

Madeline


#9

Hello everyone! Please count me in on this conversation. Has anyone read Education in a Time Between Worlds by Zak Stein? It’s an explicitly integrally-informed book about the future of education and I think offers a compelling starting point for some kind of viable future.

And in the spirit of this exchange, a quick plug for my amazing Directed Study students from the class of '21 who read Sex, Ecology, Spirituality in their senior spring and interviewed Ken at the end of the term. I also taught a course called Spiritual Journeys for the first time this spring and Corey is in the midst of editing the interview we did with Ken after reading No Boundary. I’ve been blown away by how hungry this generation of students is for some kind of spiritual grounding to their educational endeavors–their feedback includes a chorus of “this needs to be a required course for all Choate students,” and I’m excited to talk with you all about how we might make these kinds of experiences not the exception, but the rule.