Teacher Development Program

This program is currently being developed in Portland, Oregon, in coordination with the planning of our elementary school. In the meantime, you may read An Overview for Teachers, to learn more about the entire field of Holistic Education.


Program Overview: "Action Research
for Holistic Education"

Our teacher development program is called "Action Research for Holistic Education," and it has been designed to help teachers who want to develop their professional practice while increasing or introducing holistic education in their classrooms. The program includes: a) twelve courses from which to choose: four on Action Research and eight on Holistic Education; and b) being mentored through your action research project (see Courses Offered and Support pages for details).

Action Research as a methodology was developed for those engaged in the social professions (e.g., educators, managers, social service workers, etc.) to increase their understanding of their practice and to bring about changes they feel are important. While Action Research has many characteristics of other forms of social science research, it is distinct in several ways, not the least of which is its emphasis on implementing change rather than simply gaining knowledge.

At its best, Action Research in education benefits everyone concerned: 1) the students whose educational experience is improved, deepened and/or broadened, 2) the teachers who bring about changes they feel are needed in their practice, and who consequently feel empowered by their enhanced professional skills and understanding, 3) others who read such research and benefit from the insights of the teachers and are encouraged by their success.

The other unique aspect of this program is its focus on Holistic Education, which centers on the understanding that we as humans need to learn much more than simply how to earn a living or conform to a culture if we are to have meaningful lives. Learning how to meet the deepest challenges of living (with earning a livelihood and enculturation finding their rightful place within a larger rubric) has been the traditional concern of Holistic Education. Holistic Education has a long intellectual precedent easily traced through influential educators back to at least Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In recent decades, there has been substantial support for this approach to education from several of the most well-known psychologists (Jung, Maslow, Rogers, May, etc.) who have affirmed that successful academic learning depends for its significance on students being engaged with the deeper challenges in their lives, and that ignoring such deeper learning jeopardizes the students' balanced development and learning as a whole.

The Action Research for Holistic Education Program intends to give teachers the practical skills needed to engage in Action Research in whatever learning environment they are working. To this end, teachers may choose four among the twelve courses offered to provide the greatest possible assistance in topics that are of specific concern to them. From an understanding of Holistic Education's rudiments, teachers will see aspects of their own practice which they can make more holistic, and with Action Research they will be able to find ways of successfully implementing these aspects into their unique situation.

Teachers will receive ongoing individual and group support in a variety of forms to ensure that their individual research projects are successful and rewarding. Every opportunity will be taken to establish a collegial network of teachers with similar concerns and situations so that they might support each other's research efforts, and continue such support long after their research projects are over.

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The highest function
of education
is to bring about an integrated individual who is capable of dealing with life
as a whole.

-J. Krishnamurti

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