Integral Education

How do we encourage Mature Reason or Post-Formal thought? What lies ahead of Formal Operational thought and Why is it important in education?

Integral Theory – The theory that multiple perspectives, integrated into a holistic panorama, is a requirement for a truly integral view of any subject or object under consideration. A theory that all perspectives have value but are partial and require more perspectives to make them whole or more complete and useful.

In my experience there is no better way to elevate perspective and synergistic reasoning ability than to introduce a student to the eight perspectives required for an integral view. (Please see Diagram) This combined with the depth and height of all the potentials of consciousness provides a framework for a learner to contextualise any subject under consideration, and in fact their own thinking processes.

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The addition of perspectives and the elevation of perspective are the mechanisms for growth in cognitive ability and the transcendence of limiting Worldview’s.

Opportunities abound for those who, can not only formally reflect on their thinking or the thinking of others, but can ‘see’ with a pattern eye all the connections, relationships and possibilities between disparate ideas, in a synergistic way, to arrive at better conclusions and solutions in any field of study or any occupation. We need to be preparing future leaders with this ability, not some mystical visionary ability for the gifted few, but a process that equips young people with Vision Logic.

Most if not all of the challenges in contemporary education, social life, politics, economics and career possibilities are solved or met at the level of development with Vision Logic or Post-Post- Formal though.

The elevation of thinking ability is key.

With Paige’s work on developmental stages in cognitive development we know well that, cross culturally, we all go through many stages of rational development in a hierarchical fashion. We know from so many researchers that there are pre-rational stages of development in every child and every culture and that there are many levels of reasoning ability, once the rational level is initially attained (on average at about 11 years old), easily measurable and clearly discernible in child and adult development. Namely: pre-operational, operational, concrete operational, formal operational (Vision Logic being the fullest expression or highest expression of the formal operational level) So that Formal Operational cognition represents the ability to think about thinking, to envision multiple outcomes with scenario planning. The holding of multiple perspectives and reasoning ability on all potentials and possibilities at its most mature level. This level of cognitive development exists as a potential for all humankind but is not reached by many.

The words development and evolution both imply transcendence of one stage and the adaption to the next. Allude to development beyond reason (not the rejection of reason – the transcendence and inclusion of reason) and cries of heresy are heard through the corridors of conservative academia. There is not just one kind of reason or one level of development called Reason which once attained means the game is over and it’s all flat-lining from thereon. Research over thousands of years under the most scientifically controlled and rigorously reviewed conditions across almost all major cultures shows that the limits placed on cognitive development by modern and post-modern paradigms are premature and immature.

Kant’s famous trilogy: a Critique of Pure Reason, a Critique of Morals and a Critique of Art; spoke of the same three types of truth ( or perspectives on truth) which Plato separated into, correlatively, the True, the Good and the Beautiful – Habermas’s objective truth, intersubjective truth and subjective truth. Integrating these truths into a coherent vision of any referent requires at least the level of cognitive development referred to in the beginning of this paper: the ‘Vision Logic’ level as we shall hereafter refer to it – also known as the Late Formal Operational level of cognitive development, to use Paige’s term, or Mature Reason. Vision logic is a high form of perspicacity, a penetrating discernment – a clarity of vision or intellect which provides a deep understanding and insight on an almost intuitive level. Disparate ideas are synergised into a whole or realisation simultaneously. This is beyond formal operational thinking – it is the seeing of wholes and the relationships between holon’s; an intuitive acuteness of perception, discernment or understanding of how things relate or can relate to one another as a whole.

“Such panoramic or vision-logic (the technical term I use to describe the cognitive operations of this level) apprehends a mass network of ideas, how they influence each other, what their relationships are. It is thus the beginning of truly higher- order synthesising capacity, of making connections, relating truths, coordinating ideas, integrating concepts.” [Wilber, a sociable god, 2005]

When the self-centre of gravity identifies with Vision Logic one lives from that level. It is highly integrated self – A self that actually inhabits the global perspective – not merely talking about it.

Aurobindo refers to the highest expression of Vision-Logic as the “higher mind”. The higher mind can: “freely express itself in single ideas, but its most characteristic movement is a mass ideation, a system or totality of truth-seeking at a single view. The relations of idea with idea, of truth with truth, self-seen in the integral whole.”

For the most part these three ‘truths’ or perspectives, identified by Plato, Kant, Habermas and many others, which Ken Wilber uses in his all quadrant approach in integral theory: IT, WE and I domains; which he further divides, for analysis and integration into the four quadrants: I ( subjective domain) We (inter-subjective domain) It (objective domain) and It’s ( interobjective domain)

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In our era the objective ‘It’ domain and the inter- objective ‘Its’ domain are given a weighting that imbalances our collective perspective and makes us selective form Plato and his peers, and yes he has a few, in terms of how they serve this objective, material view and the more subtle reductionist or inter-objective view seen in Systems Theory.

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The confidence and excitement for additional learning that a young person experiences when being introduced to the full spectrum of possibilities for personal growth in the various cognitions available to them is a wonderful thing to witness.

A basic introduction to these possibilities begins the process and experience of transcendence from the first session. It can be introduced with any subject as the entry point. We regularity use Public Speaking classes, Biology, Linguistic theory, Literature, History, Math, etc. as an entry point for this theory which contextualises any subject.

I would like to share the possibilities for your child, or you the young adult, through a process called the Integral Positioning System (IPS). This is a combination of group classes and workshops, assignments, therapeutic processes and private consultation.

This development process is designed for youth between the ages of 14 and 25. Its intention is to develop the whole being, the full expression of humanity and all its potentials in a young person. It specifically delivers a sense of identity, through self-knowledge. Also the confidence to express that identity into the world, socially, creatively and economically. The ability and confidence to present oneself and ideas in a variety of situations like school speaking assignments anddebate, job interviews, university interviews and presentations, social situations and many others. It builds a real foundation for such confidence in knowing and defining who you are, what you stand for, what you value, what you want and and what you are capable of. Whether your intentions are to express yourself socially, economically, creatively, career wise, politically, or to any other end, this process will assist you with your goals.

The true foundations of a confident, sincere, capable and contributory human being, moving toward human adulthood, are not found in the acquiring of knowledge alone. Many school/educational systems promise so much more, but are geared and measured through the transfer of knowledge and some encouragement toward formal operational thinking, critical thinking or reflective thought processes.

The integral approach exposes the youth to the entire spectrum of consciousness and all levels and modes of thinking available to mankind. It engages the student in a process of reflective, contextualised and truly integrated self development. First the entire spectrum is made available followed by a framework for integrating all the possible perspectives that are ‘true’ in themselves, or important, but partial. Eight methodologies or formal academic perspectives are shown in relation to one another, as a comprehensive model or framework to observe, in an inclusive, integrated way, any subject or object under consideration. The students ability to reflect, analyse and relate to information, people and situations is enhanced eight fold at least. This is a movement toward Vision Logic – a high order of formal operational thinking ability, synergistic ability or mature reason.

It is not just an enhancement of logical thought process. It is a stimulation of all the cognitions that make up the full spectrum of conscious life that is the unique expression of a person.

This process, measurably enhances intelligence, emotional intelligence, synthesising ability, pattern recognition, and the ability to confidently express the same, in a variety of modalities, for the student.

It is the foundation for true leadership, entrepreneurship and functional fit in an evolving and increasingly complex global and local society.

This is a finishing school for young people. This is the process that will make relevant and usable all the hard earned knowledge and skills provided by main stream education. This is a programme that will equip your child with the identity and self-knowledge to make informed and motivated decisions about tertiary education. This is what will set your child apart for the career opportunities in an increasingly competitive job market. This is the process that will equip any young person for entrepreneurial participation on the local and global markets. This is the programme that will define true leadership ability. This is a framework on which an authentic, creative, full, successful and contributory life will be based.

Bjorn Heyerdahl – Cradle of Humankind