Toward a Culture of Learning: A Strategic Vision
The Academy’s over-arching intent is large-scale culture change: the activation of a culture of learning through which new forms of education, leadership and organizational practice emerge and thrive. Our programs and services create the context for a deep and experiential inquiry into the personal and cultural values and practices underlying learning. In particular, we model and wish to bring into view what we see as fundamental purposes behind education: to lead out (educere, the latin root) and the activation of a lifelong impulse to learn and transform. Whether in our work with individuals, groups or organizations, our goal is to activate the re-imagination of learning and education in form and spirit, incorporating these intents. We are stepping out of the mind that created the current educational system, born out of the industrial revolution, and asking ourselves deeper questions about what we want most for our children and our world, as we go into the future.
In order to achieve culture change, our programs, services and research must be comprehensive and oriented toward a broad range of people who are key in the lives of children, including parents, teachers, policy makers, community leaders, and children themselves. In addition, we work with the growing wave of organizations, social entrepreneurs, and individuals who are active in, or preparing to enter, the work of cultural leadership and social transformation. The Academy’s work draws on a wide, multi-disciplinary spectrum of resources: educational philosophy and practice, the arts, transpersonal studies, contemplative traditions, earth-based wisdom, body-centered practices, psychotherapy, organizational consulting, and the wisdom distilled from personal experience.
The pace of our work may seem to run counter to the demands of our time. Urgent calls for action are vital forces of change and we must attend to them. But we must also recognize that actually to become the change we want to see in the world requires that we transform our selves, unlearning habitual ways of being so as not to recreate our current dilemmas in the future. We must slow down enough to inquire, to contemplate and to experience the subtleties of our true nature. For this reason, the work of the Academy is slow and deliberate. We hasten slowly, thus laying the ground for new expressions of our humanity, informed by compassion and a deep reverence for learning. We want our efforts to result in long-term, sustainable change. While each Academy program has its own distinct set of outcomes, the basic tenet within all the programs is that whatever our vocation or role in life, we are all leaders and it is who we are as human beings that is of greatest importance. In the Academy’s view, who we are as human beings is indicated by the depth of our engagement with and openness to life and ongoing learning, our self-awareness, and our capacity to be as fully awake as imaginable with one another. Therefore, our work is strongly experiential and calls forth a high degree of self-reflection, both individual and collective. This ground of deepening self-awareness provides the stability and freedom from which right action can grow.
Academy Programs and Research
The Academy offers, or is developing work in the following areas:
Personal Leadership Programs
Our two-year personal leadership training, Leading By Being® (LBB), is an integral, contemplative approach to leadership. Now in its seventh round, LBB is running concurrently in Santa Fe and in Europe. The eighth round of the LBB training begins in summer of 2008. We are currently designing an LBB specifi cally for young adults aged 21 to 28, the leaders of tomorrow, to begin in 2009 in Santa Fe. Leading By Being® is a comprehensive expression of our core curriculum.
The Art of Learning: Teacher Renewal through Action, Reflection and Transformation
This program, based on our pilot work begun in 2001 with school districts in Arizona and New York, activates and disseminates more broadly our support for culture change through existing public schools. Educators across the country are invited to develop teacher renewal programs based on the Academy approach to learning and transformation. We offer matching grants and technical support to teachers, schools and districts as they envision, plan and implement their own transformational processes for ongoing renewal. The intent is to help ease the extreme tensions present in teachers’ daily lives in school, by cultivating an inward focus and supporting and reanimating their learning spirit, their own love of learning, which in turn can be transmitted to children. New visions for education emerge as key questions about the nature of education and its ultimate intent are explored. Participants then become agents of transformation within their schools and communities.
Through ongoing research and support for the emergence of new school forms and curricula based on our methods, we are generating an active web of relationship and responsibility among Academy-affiliated teachers, parents and schools.
Teacher Education and Learning
We are planning a Masters Degree in Learning and Education for teachers in association with an accredited institution of higher learning. This contemplative approach to teacher preparation will be based upon an exploration and reconnection with our most deeply held longings and values as human beings and as a culture. Teachers will be equipped with an integral, comprehensive understanding of child development, along with capacities and skills for attending to the emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual well-being of the faculty and children. Our guiding principle is that it is the human being – the teacher him/herself – who is the transmission of the learning spirit.
The Academy will offer an ongoing program designed to equip prospective and actual parents with conscious parenting skills for the upbringing of their children. Based on our core methodology, this program will also help parents explore their connection to and become increasingly discerning about their own most deeply held values, so they can become more effective advocates for a right and whole education for their children.
The Seton Legacy Project
Drawing upon the rich legacy of early naturalist, writer, artist and co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America, Ernest Thompson Seton, are programs designed to inspire and keep alive the flame of creativity and wonder by connecting children and adults alike to the transformative power of the arts and nature. As steward of over 200 Seton paintings and drawings, as well as his writings and archival materials, the Academy will house the Seton collection in our new home and make it available to the public. In 2010 the Academy will bring this collection to the Palace of Governors for a special exhibit on the life and work of Seton.
Ongoing Culture Change
We offer a variety of workshops and performances designed to stimulate transformative learning and culture change. These stand-alone events make it possible for a broad range of the community to participate in and become acquainted with the Academy’s spirit and programming. As we seek to bring forth a new paradigm we must tend carefully and respectfully to letting go of the old. Coming Full Circle: Facing Death and Finding Life through the Perennial Wisdom Traditions, a two-part course, provides an opportunity for deep transformation and change through an exploration of death and dying. It offers authentic guidance and support for an honest and full inquiry into these natural processes and provides an ongoing template for letting go into the emergent nature of life and all its inherent change. Our new Rites of Passage Series builds upon Coming Full Circle to offer guidance and support in our deepening movement toward our humanity.
Organizational Renewal and Research
Through our Ventana Project we work in-depth with other social benefit and educational organizations to support them in establishing our learning model at the heart of their organizations. By inviting organizations into a true culture of learning and personal leadership, we see that the fullest expression of the organization’s mission becomes possible. We look to a future in which young people will have opportunities to work in organizations with cultural values embodying sustainability, interconnection and learning.