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A Whole Systems Approach to Learning

Reflection on IVL

Mastery of school disciplines (knowledge and skill in subject areas of math, science, social studies and English) are non-negotiable prerequisites for student success in career or in life. Higher capacities of conceptual and creative thinking, perception, and creative production (imagination and action) are dependent upon the techniques, skills and knowledge base from the disciplines. Consequently, the school subject areas are a means to an end--the tools students use to become creative producers and responsible citizens.

In many schools today however, the disciplines have become an end in themselves, creating an educational experience for children lacking in relevance, meaning and direction. Hence, the educational process loses compelling relevance and student motivation suffers.

From a whole systems point of view, subject areas are the soil and fertilizer from which the fruits of the system are born. When only soil and fertilizer are studied, the entire endeavor loses focus, meaning, and interest. IVL keeps the big picture, interrelationships and broad aims in focus in all dimension of schooling, from student discussions in a 4th grade classroom to policy making at the district level.

By consciously framing and constructing all academic subject area learning as a means to an end--a tool to strengthen the core capacities of THINKING, PERCEIVING, IMAGINING AND CREATING--balance is achieved, richness is restored, productivity is raised and the study of standards-based content is given a context of meaning, motivating students and raising achievement in the core disciplines themselves.