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Balanced Holistic Education and Values

As I reflected during a morning commute on a recent conversation, I discerned a glimmer of wisdom about the role values can play in learning and education. I use the word wisdom purposefully as it is not knowledge and represents an essential counterweight to compassion. Like my recent musings that passion without com-passion is potentially blinding and harmful, compassion without wisdom can be equally damaging. Discernment allows wisdom to emerge and helps us ask and answer, “What do we value that keeps us true to what we love?”

Discernment leading to wisdom is not ‘relativism gone wild’ where everyone is entitled to an opinion regardless of the cost it exacts on others. Compassion is patient, humble, and less judgmental, allowing wisdom to be more than one’s opinion or the reiteration of ‘edutrivia’. Wisdom individually and collectively springs from within to be shared.

Community values and community provide stable cultural anchors and emerge from relational and internal processes. Community, itself, is a value, but too often contemporary advanced society turns it on end and replaces it with expedient catch phrases: collaboration, cooperation, and team player. Values such as community, wisdom, compassion, and integrity also appear under the corporate and organizational rubric of corporate mission and vision exercises. I am not dismissing these activities, but question their arbitrary, hierarchical, and limited implementation as pronouncements from the executive suites.  Can we actually engage community voices in what appears to be merely a greasing of bureaucratic wheels? Institutions truly serving community will reflect community values and not those of bureaucratic, technocratic elites seeking conformity arrived at through groupthink or oppressive processes.

What values do we want children to learn? Perhaps we would like them to care for themselves and, in the words of Martin Luther King, show compassion for the beloved community and act accordingly. Perhaps we would like them to make wise decisions as stewards of the Earth and its gifts. Perhaps we would like them to be one with Creation to provide a sense of integrity. Values emerge from within us, individually and collectively. What we want for children is accomplished by finding balance in learning ways to safely and reasonably express communal values. Learning as a cognitive exercise only will not produce the adults we desire; physical, spiritual, cognitive, and emotional balance is essential to educate children of the 21st Century to learn the values of that beloved community. It is an imperative. This no longer a new millennium. We are 12 years into it. Will we wait longer?


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

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  1. Pingback: Paradox of Community « Teacher as Transformer

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