Advancing Educational Possibilities
Advancing educational possibilities encompasses our efforts in holistic education. Our desire is to provide educational offerings, experiences, and resources that are centered around process-relational philosophy. If we take seriously Whitehead’s challenge to make “life” the focal point of education, our work has a never-ending agenda: to gain wisdom and understanding in multiple facets of life, to enhance and deepen the rhythm of teaching and learning, and to integrate the various fields of inquiry in order to help solve the serious challenges facing humans and the world we live in. In short, our aim is to provide insights and participate in actions toward the goal of realizing an ecological civilization.
Learning is something that can take place in any setting at any age. Our philosophy of education includes the following underlying principles:
- All life deserves respect. Everything is connected; nothing in nature stands alone.
- Thinking and feeling are connected; mind and body are not separate entities; aesthetic wisdom and rational inquiry are complementary.
- There is a profound relationship between creativity, beauty, and life.
- Learning begins by experiencing the presence of the world and being affected by it.
- Happiness involves sharing experience with others and responding in harmony to these relationships.
- Harmony includes differences as well as similarities.
- Change is an ongoing component of reality; nothing ever stays the same. The process of reality is creative, emergent, evolutionary, and social.
Practices for all ages
With these fundamentals in mind, we seek to celebrate educational programs in which learning is an active process—a lifelong adventure of heart, mind and body.
Programs that begin in the romance of discovery and get certain basics right by...
- Creating a climate of care and respect.
- Helping students learn to cooperate and collaborate.
- Encouraging curiosity and playfulness.
- Exploring the wonder of glimpses of beauty.
- Engaging students in learning by doing.
- Experiencing the joy of genuine success.
Programs that develop precision and mastery by...
- Investigating real-life projects.
- Integrating learning across disciplines.
- Inquiring in depth according the students’ interest and talents.
- Persisting in questioning and practicing.
- Encouraging problem finding as well as problem solving.
- Developing modes of artistic creativity.
Programs that open out to make a positive difference in the world by...
- Educating for justice.
- Working toward ecological civilization.
- Facing challenges as opportunities.
- Seeking harmony of space, nature and spirit.
- Building consensus and community.
- Reaching out to different perspectives, backgrounds, and ages.
To accomplish our objectives, the members of the educational development group participate in a wide variety of projects that fall under three main groupings:
- Through its Learning Lab, the Institute provides a range of in-depth internet classes in process thought taught by Dr. John B. Cobb, Jr. and other experts, which reach hundreds of participants. The lab also facilitates smaller groups of learning circles, discussion groups, and book studies to explore a variety topics an interests.
- Middle Tree, a learning center located in Claremont, offers educational services and resources to students from elementary to high school students, provides a context for various members of the Institute to assist in student learning, and works with the Institute to develop curriculum for adult education. For example, we currently working with Middle Tree to develop programs that are designed to educate parents in the city of Pomona.
- For our own growth in understanding process philosophy, friends of the Cobb Institute sometimes participate in the study of major topics and themes. For example, Dr. Richard Livingston, the Director of Operations for the Cobb Institute and a scholar of process-relational thought, guided us through Robert Mesle's excellent introductory text, Process-Relational Philosophy: An Introduction to Alfred North Whitehead.
- “Backyard Becomings,” a small informal gathering of friends who meet regularly for an evening meal and discussion about process texts and themes, is another expression of our attempt to experience a sense of community, as well as to participate in an opportunity for personal growth in process thought.
- Guided by a process-relational view of education, and influenced by John Cobb's critique of “higher education,” members of our group challenge the assumption that developing value-free research experts in isolated fields is the ultimate goal of colleges and universities. Instead, we encourage students to become educated in transdisciplinary fields, with the intent of helping to solve the serious problems we face that threaten life as we now know it.
- A task force at the University of La Verne is in the process of establishing the Institute for the Common Good, as well as developing a new major in sustainability studies.
- We support the work of Flagstaff College, a small innovative school located in Flagstaff, Arizona, whose mission is to prepare students to be leaders in the democratic project of building sustainable, just, and beautiful communities and in creating ecological civilizations.
- The development of educational materials about various religious traditions is the goal of yet others in the group. These materials and experiences assist in deepening one’s own tradition, but also in developing respect for other religious and non-religious groups, and enhancing dialogue between various traditions.
Spanning across each of these three areas, another goal of some of our members is to develop a website for a Global Network of Ecological Education. Co-sponsored by the Institute for Postmodern Development of China, the website aims to provide information and ideas for those interested in ways to work toward an ecological civilization.
Our interests are thus multiple, and intertwine with the Institute’s other main areas of focus: spiritual exploration and community building. We invite friends and advisors to join us in pursuing the educational development goals named above, and to expand that list as we work toward realizing an ecological civilization.