How I got here, and where I am going...

By: Matthew Rich

At first it wasn’t clear to me what the problem was; I just knew that it was all horribly wrong. My work in the field of education started entirely accidentally, but once I got going it was very clear to me that there was something essentially broken and out-of-place in the ways in which adults were doing school to children. My discomfort led me to ask a number of questions: What are we doing and why are we doing it in this way? How did we get here? Where are we going? How could things be different?

I began immersing myself in a search for a real alternative. On my search I found many wonderful ideas, approaches, and technologies, but I always had a sense that each of them was only a piece of a bigger puzzle. I poured myself into working at the Nahoon Montessori School, a beautiful alternative learning community in South Africa, where – without really being aware of it at the time – we began to create an integral program by cobbling together a number of approaches while maintaining a tension between the environment, social systems (it was a democratic school in the broadest interpretation of the term with a constantly evolving inclusive decision making process), community development and dialogue, and personal development for all members of the community.

My discovery of Ken Wilber’s theory gave me a clear way to conceptualize the wholeness that my heart had already longed for and gravitated towards, and my subsequent deep dive into the thought and practice of a range of integral leaders (most significantly, for me, the integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother), has formed the basis of my work ever since.

What particularly excites me about the possibilities of Integral Education is the possibility to participate in creating practical strategies for stewarding a global transformation and evolution of consciousness. Integral Education is a particularly engaging field for me, because it is not only an important integral application in and of itself, but – by virtue of the fact that all people receive an education in some form or another – it also forms an important part of the wider landscape in which other applications can take place.  

I am hopeful that the Integral Education Center will help to support and connect practitioners in the field of integral education as well as those who find themselves drawn towards the principles of integral education. I also hope that the Center will play a role in articulating and developing this exciting new emerging field in constant collaboration and partnership with a wide range of other organizations. A great deal of my energy will be invested in trying to clarify and extend my and others understanding of what integral education is and could be through research, dialogue, training, consulting, educational design, and other applications.

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