An integral view on education, student development & world.

Floris Koot
Jul 4, 2017 · 10 min read
An educational model to make the world flourish and you fly.

Here are three models to boost education. The first offers core arguments, why the whole educational system needs an overhaul. The second helps to see what a fully integral approach to education could offer both us and the world. The third helps to develop rounded human beings.

These models started out from three basic convictions:

  1. Education needs to acknowledge that each student has unique talents, quite possibly outside the scope of (current) school. Staff needs to to see and and stimulate such talents the best they can.
  2. In almost every behavior lie gifts or possibilities enclosed that may, when well placed and or well developed, benefit society. Most weaknesses have special gifts enclosed. Insecurity often hides sensitivity and laziness creativity, destructive behavior may help break down stuck patterns, etc.
  3. Education that doesn’t stimulate its students to be part of the global solutions we need, harms our collective and their individual future.

Thus boosting individual gifts, seeing possibilities in students unique individual differences, passions and interests need to be integrated in education. Not doing so is harming the individuals potential and therefore can be seen as diminishing the capacity of society as a whole. Not educating those that can’t pay can be considered value theft by the government.

Too often education molds it’s students just to to fit jobs in the current economy. An economy, which damages the planet and broadens the wealth gap at an astonishing rate. Education needs to realize it’s co-responsible for our current global issues. We urgently need to transform education towards a more healthy approach to students, people and planet. These models can help you shape that conversation.

1. Balanced Curriculum Model

Balancing ‘Outside In’ learning with ‘Inside Out’ learning.

How to see if your school looks at the whole student, and not just feeds knowledge.

‘Outside In’ Education

In current Education ‘Outside In’ learning dominates. Blue en Green. We teach as if children only can become adequate adults when we tell them what they need to know and how to behave. We test if they can parrot our knowledge back to us. We use feedback from “Sit still and stop disrupting class.” to “I think this level best fits your child.” Some dialogue helps to develop mental thinking skills. But basically kids are seen as vessels to fill. Are they? Really? And is the knowledge we deliver integrating enough global developments and modern needs, such as critical thinking, media awareness and the skill to keep on learning when old jobs fall away and new ones need to be developed.

While knowledge about our complex world and professional skills are essential and some socialization through feedback and dialogue makes sense, it’s too limited to develop true talents, outside the minority that really loves mental learning. Overbalance on ‘Outside In’ learning actually weakens creativity and capability to act in the world. It doesn’t help young people to develop insights of what they’d love to do, or are great at. Education can’t be true when the ‘Inside Out’ is missing.

‘Inside Out’ Education

The word school derives from the Greek skholé meaning “leisure time to learn” and the word education comes from educare, meaning “developing yourself from the inside out”. That means the original emphasis of education started completely opposite of the current model. This is the domain of Red and Yellow. Yellow means not only skills (that is present enough in current education, primarily in job skill training) but moreover moving and acting according to universal laws. This goes from playing sports (don’t run into goal posts) to moving smoothly through social interactions. Things one best learns through play and iteration. It’s essentially about learning how to be in flow or move according universal principles: Wu Wei. This is a Taoist term meaning not-doing. It means you don’t force anything, like a baby can cry a full day, without getting hoarse. Or you (without pills) can suddenly dance all night, or get things done with so much ease, you wonder how it was possible.

Ever wonder why many of the most successful entrepreneurs stepped out of education early? When we put more focus on the Red Quadrant we see what most managers of education seem to fear: we don’t know what will come out or up. While acting according the principles is awesome, some people have talents that seem to go straight against our dominant beliefs. And yet, no society is healthy without some rebels, artists, inventors, entrepreneurs breaking rules. Those all may be talents some teachers can’t handle, or governments seem to suppress, but should support to become valuable for the student and society.

Why We Need More Inside Out Education!

The main current emphasis on outside in, is damaging for students and society as a whole. Talents that don’t fit the frame, are still talents. They are the ones that bring change and innovation. Suppressing individual talents is diminishing students self worth, their capabilities, and their value for society as a whole. Not seeking how to make such talents shine is therefore also theft of society as a whole and thus bad education. Please start addressing the whole spectrum. Look for those all around the world that have developed approaches for this.

2. The Integral Education Model

An integral approach to education and personal development.

In my practice I often teach all those aspects not offered in traditional education. It’s not a miracle to guess that many trainings within companies are all about these aspects. Many employees and managers have very limited grasps of one or more of these aspects: what it means to be human, to be creative, to be intuitive, to know what they themselves want, showing courage, listening to ethics, being empathic. Many are lacking emotional and spiritual intelligence. However much money is made, this is global poverty.

What is needed for a human to really blossom and fly in a healthy world?

These are all the aspects within young people that need to be addressed to raise a well rounded, well aware and capable human beings.

Knowledge, Integral Worldview & Systems Thinking. Knowledge, freely available on the internet decreases being the centerpiece of education. The need to be conscious about what place we all have within the world is increasing. From dying barrier reefs to oil spills, from arms trades to lobbyists pushing cancerous products, both as consumers and as workers we influence the whole. We need to evolve from factual knowledge to deeper understanding and ‘knowing’. Everything is interconnected. We are part of a intricate interconnected and codependent bigger system. We cannot continue to develop workers, employees, managers who are blind to how their actions impact the world. When you develop your profession or company you need to know what you contribute, or damage, within the bigger picture.

Connectedness, Awareness, Intuition. In the growing complexity of our society and world, the underbelly needs to be trained much better. We need to feel more what’s going on. We need to be also deeper connected to nature and others. That’s not something that can be solved by knowledge alone. It needs touch, feel, senses, intuition, even enjoying nature through play. People who have not developed this cannot fly.

Head, Heart and Hands. Much has already been written about these three aspects. Thinking without heart or values. Acting without passion. Knowing without being able to. They all make little sense. We need to know where we can go, want to go, how to go there and being able to. Integration of these three aspects help education to go from purely mental to fully integral.

Guts. When we mostly train compliant employees, foremost focussed on their own progress, then the world as a whole is soo much poorer for it. The courage to see what’s going on and to dare act on needs. Preferably aligned with deeper values and insight in what action will be effective.

Body. The lack of body awareness is sickening our society. We sense through the body. We feel in the body. We express with the body. Good body awareness, our channel to the world is essential and key to develop many of the aspects above. The capability to ground, breath well, relax nerves and listen to signals like stress, etc, are essential to become capable human beings.

World & Your Community. Practical presence in the world is essential too. Rich kids who’ve never been to a poor neighborhood, never did community service and later grow to be minsters or managers can make awful decision due to lack of empathy and understanding. And what goes for them, goes actually for all of us. Being involved with and in the world through school should be an essential part of education.

Inspiration. Creative expressiveness. “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Einstein said. Then let’s bring more art, fantasy, imagination and playing with possibilities into school. You’ll see both children and the world will benefit hugely. Art by the way helps very much with dealing with modern ambiguities, and expressing emotion in a constructive way.

Here’s a longer article on explaining why and how this could be the basis for a new curriculum.

The next model goes deeper into understanding what we truly need to develop to be able to unfold our best potential in and for the world as a whole.

3. A Basic Human Growth Model.

The four corners of personal development.

This is a very simple model. Young people should develop themselves in all these four directions to help them become well developed humans, capable to add and understand what they can offer to their society. The previous model showed all aspects needed to develop this. This model is more help for the students to check their own progress.

We need Alignment. We need to know how to relate to people, their surroundings and adapt. The more social capabilities, to align, feel connected, to listen and speak the easier moving about becomes. But too much of this without the others and people become obedient sheep without sense of direction. Too little of this and you’ll find yourself in nasty arguments a lot, without understanding why.

We also need Freedom. It means daring to find and follow their own path, often stepping out of judgements and expectations from themselves and others. Too much of this, not balanced with being connected and aligned to others and it’s just wild anarchism. Too little and there’s the sheep again. Freedom to play with whatever is the subject can make people understand things faster and have more possibilities is how to deal with it.

We need Values, both personal and societal. Values are essential, because without them we’d too easily be led astray by cheap seductions or group pressure. Also too little leads to crime or compliant behavior towards unethical work targets. Too much and too strict values can make us rigid in our beliefs. When we are clear about what we stand for, knowing our own direction becomes soo much easier. Many values are born out of connectedness to those around us (think empathy/compassion) and our own desire to be free.

And we need Direction. However well educated, those without personal direction and the power to express it in the world feel lost. This lays at the basis of the current mass waves of depression, burn outs and lack of meaning in many starters on the job market. “I followed school, but never knew what I myself really want. “ The amount of young people expressing this sentiment is staggering. What do I want? Where do I want to go? What is my dream job, career, contribution to the world? Helping people finding the answer to such question is essential for their well being. And then again too much of this is just ego and self reflection without testing and training the capability to actually do it.

You may wonder where’s knowledge in this model? Well knowledge must support our development as a human being, but it’s not the basis of it. Knowledge (as in facts and insights) is very easy to access nowadays. And much of it unreliable (social media) and or outdated (schoolbooks). Physical knowledge like bike riding, playing an instrument and deeper forms of ‘knowing’ all ask training and experience. We need to develop critical thinking and knowing what we want to help develop for the better, and choosing the experiences that will grow our ‘knowing’. Knowing that we need all these four aspects in healthy condition.

When all aspects are balanced you’ll be someone who sees what needs to be done, knows what the ‘right thing’ to do about it is, know what you want to do about it, and you’ll have the courage to do it in your ‘own way’. Thanks Sinatra.

Don’t see your students or children developing these four aspects (enough)? Wonder if the inside out aspect is given enough attention. Wonder what aspect of integral education is missing. Wonder if they play, imagine, feel, puzzle, help others enough. And or wonder what you could develop yourself much further to support your work.

Happy developing!

Note: If you want to know more about how to teach all that stuff, I’ve been writing a very little bit about it. I know what I wrote thus far about it is meager, but may help to get it started.

A course I hosted based on these models: https://medium.com/the-gentle-revolution/you-are-a-movement-8d119ecb7b76

Some concrete tools and exercises: https://medium.com/exercises-models-social-inventions

An actual business school working with this approach (not one on one, but still) http://knowmads.nl/

A blog from more writers and articles about these aspects. https://medium.com/edushifts

The Gentle Revolution

Towards a revolution we all want to dance in, for a flourishing planet.

Floris Koot

Written by

Play Engineer. Social Inventor. Gentle Revolutionary. I always seek new possibilities and increase of love, wisdom and play in the world.

The Gentle Revolution

Towards a revolution we all want to dance in, for a flourishing planet.

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