Last year our theme was Integral Learning. We experimented with thematic units that integrated many academic disciplines. By contrast, most school learning is accomplished through separate subject studies. For example, the History of the Ancient Greeks would be a social studies unit—removed from reading, writing, math, science, art, music, etc. But in our daily life and jobs, learning tends to be integrated, rarely sorted and artificially detached into academic niche subjects. Furthermore, children’s minds are touched and inspired by the thematic approach which shows the connection between subjects, exposing the deeper meaning and purpose for learning.
Ecology is the study of how Life interrelates in a systemic way with all biological forms and their surroundings. Relationships take place at the atomic and molecular level, between plants and animals, and among species in ecological networks and systems.
This year we have chosen to combine Integral Learning with Ecology, resulting in Integral Ecology. Integral Ecology is a new movement that seeks to bring the deep understanding of interrelationship that Ecology demonstrates into all aspects of human life. In this movement, Ecology is used as a natural guiding principle to promote the greater good, to help find sustainable solutions to our collective problems, and to determine equitable methods for solving them. Ecology can be applied to many aspects of school life, and we will be experimenting with these as the year progresses.
This is Integral Ecology—meshing Ecology as a guiding truth into our thematic, integrated style of teaching, and also extending ecological principles beyond academics until their touch blesses every aspect of our school life.
To this end, we have already begun a few initiatives this summer:
- Garden plots for every grade
- A special outdoor garden curriculum for grades K and 1
- New imaginative approaches to behavioral and emotional therapy
- Plans for a collective recycled art project
- Additional plantings around the property
We expect to develop other new initiatives with our teachers when school is in session.