Integral education must embrace and fold together the best practices of current and historical education in a consistent framework of applications appropriate to their locale. The framework or design of the experiences and explorations of the children must then be enhanced to resonate with the objectives of raising consciousness. The teacher must nurture the well chartered patterns of the child’s unfolding development and then stand back without judgment and witness the emerging consciousness of the child in its many manifestations. This process need not be impractical but can prepare the child for full, meaningful and productive participation in society, culture and care of the planet.
The beauty in the emerging consensus in education and in the emerging integration of our times is that consciousness-raising can be articulated satisfactorily to the many levels of consciousness in a peaceful way. Although bankers may practice ‘relaxation meditation’ and teachers conduct an ‘imaginary journey’ and seekers explore ‘mystic practices’, these same essential opportunities create windows for new insights within integral experiences.
An integral education framework needs only locate validated educational practices within something like Ken Wilber’s AQAL (All Quadrants All Levels) framework. Such a framework or map of the territory and challenges to be taught might inspire teachers to tackle individualized applications with assertive strategies of networking.
The missing component in moving integral methods of education to reach out to all children and meaningfully transform educational practice is the strategy of differential diagnosis or application. Jeffrey Sachs defines the practice of differential diagnosis as the tool for raising countries on to the ladder of progressive economics and subsequently lifting them out of poverty (The End of Poverty). Education must also adopt the practice of approaching each educational setting with a process of identifying and considering indigenous frameworks, status, obstacles and beliefs to minimize resistance and increase the effectiveness in applying integral practices. Keep in mind that the models offered would include several alternatives which have been proven successful in the past.
Hence, rural, suburban, and urban settings might dictate a variance in the application of best practices, the choice of model and the descriptions and words needed to educate parents and community. Universal developmental principles and experientially rich lessons can be framed to address the local culture, life skills and unfolding environmental awareness in a way suited to the prevalent states in the local cultures.
Integral education can take the many current and emerging models and the several historically validated models of education and distill them so their common points and agreements form the framework of core values and practices for integral practices.
Integral Education, like the development of the individual, will always be a work in progress and always require fine tuning at the point of application. Developing a process of differential diagnosis in the field of education would mean joining networks who already share the same values of social justice, stewardship of the environment and education for peace and coordinating them with an effort to train teachers and initiate schools that embrace these values at their core.
For example, a survey of those states affording the opportunity for initiating charter schools might yield a framework for applying integral practices in contrasting rural, urban and suburban settings to better understand the differentials which separate successful implementation in these various settings. Another example would be to join forces with Oprah’s educational initiatives in
Africa and create integral practices adapted to the needs of the economically disadvantaged. Another project would be to identify how the cast off products of our military bases might be recycled into educational products for local people in their vicinity.
Equally important to constructing what Ken Wilber calls “Kosmic Curriculum” is simultaneously constructing systems for teacher training and adaptable delivery to impact true reform at every opportunity. A highly visible display might just catch the attention of the new administration in Washington.
I propose the following guidelines or laws for developing the emerging paradigm of education:
- First Do No Harm, unlike the one size fits all initiative, No Child Left Behind.
- Stop acting like we don’t already know how to effectively teach. There are many effective models, such as Montessori, which have been tested worldwide in a variety of circumstances. Besides there isn’t time to “bean count” our way to legitimacy for uncomprehending legislators.
- Focus on implementation and networking for the purpose of establishing and delivering working models in a variety of settings.
- Pursue implementation following the principle of differential diagnosis, adapting applications based on local input and circumstances.
- Target representative and diverse application models, namely: rural, suburban, inner city, village, international and orphanage.
- Piggyback efforts with other organizations in service to humanity, peace and preservation of the environment.
- Steady yourself with some form of an integral life practice.
Line up the principles and practice of Montessori Cosmic Education, Partnership Education, Democratic Pedagogy, Transformative Pedagogy, The Coalition of Essential Schools, Best Practices, Brain-based education and Creativity research and generate an Integral Model with variations.
We should take heart at the consistencies and core values of the emerging paradigm of education. I would modify the quote of William Gibson (author of Neuromancer) and say: The future of education is here, it is just not widely practiced yet.