Crossfields Institute Group – Educational Philosophy

‘What will transform education is not another theory or another book or another formula but a transformed way of being in the world’
– Parker Palmer

Our Philosophy in Context

The philosophy of Crossfields Institute informs our Awarding Organisation, our Higher Education Institute and our Consultancy provision in the way that we design, quality assure, award, teach and promote education.

We are distinctive in the breadth of our activities as well as in the range of educational levels that we are actively engaged with (from Early years to Higher Education). Our philosophy is at the heart of our unique approach to integrative, transdisciplinary and transformative education.

Education at the Crossroads

Education sits at the very core of human development. It has a crucial role to play in developing individual and collective responses to the unprecedented challenges that we now face in environmental and social realms – both locally and globally.

When we ask ourselves whether national educational systems are ready to meet these challenges, we have a number of inter-related concerns which include the following:

    • Human well-being is being compromised by agendas that have their eye on the bottom line rather than on education that fosters the latent potential in each individual.
    • National and personal economic advancement dominates educational objectives, rather than focussing on nurturing each individual’s emergent vocation – their calling to make a unique contribution to society.
    • Many students and learners today are getting lost in the currents of mass-market education. They feel like cogs in a wheel, or numbers on a spreadsheet. Their experience is that education is a process to endure rather than a journey within which they can thrive.
    • Increasing emphasis is being placed on high stakes evaluation and testing, putting pressure on educators and learners at all levels of the education system, and in countries throughout the world.
    • We see a clear need for bold and innovative approaches to education at this time.

Key Aspects of our Approach

There is a need for education to change its focus and to foster inner resourcefulness, resilience and adaptability. We are convinced that a primary aim of education is to spark a passion for learning, cultivate a sense of purpose, and develop capacities to participate meaningfully in the world. Crossfields Institute does this through:

Human-scale education facilitates the possibility of a sense of belonging, ensuring that each individual learner’s journey is respected and supported. The size of the class or group should make it possible to give attention and support to each individual student. Our educational initiatives, and those of our affiliated organisations, are structured to make this possible.

Engaging the whole person
Our approach to teaching and learning is dynamic, rooted in experience as well as in theory and knowledge. We celebrate and value the uniqueness and diversity of individual knowledge, skill, and experience. Through all of our engagements with students we seek to cultivate spiritual and emotional intelligence, as well as cultural, ecological, health, and economic literacy.

Facilitating Deep Learning
Deep learning is achieved through experiential and problem-based approaches to learning. It is enabled through engaging with complexity and real-world practice. Deep Learning invites the participation of the whole human being and the adoption of multiple ways of knowing. Central to our Deep Learning approach is the recognition that engaging with risk and not-knowing are fundamental if education has the potential to be transformative as well as integrative.

Responding to context
Rich learning opportunities surround each and every one of us – in our places of work, our homes, our communities and our local environments. Education is too often confined to the classroom or the lecture hall. Whilst these are important contexts for learning, our approach recognizes that a wider range of contexts will further develop our students’ Deep Learning.

Meeting learners in their own lives
We encourage our students to bring their learning into their lives, and to have their life experience inform their learning. By offering courses online, through our Virtual Learning Environment, we facilitate learning for people who want to bring study, research and enquiry into their personal and professional lives. By hosting residentials in the UK and abroad we facilitate processes of encounter and enrichment through face-to-face lectures and seminars, situated activities, and dialogue with colleagues and faculty. Our approved centres deliver our qualifications across the UK and around the world, many offering practical, experiential learning in their own communities.

Building Connections
Connection to a learner’s spiritual and emotional Self – which links them to their sense of meaning and purpose.
Connection to Others –to those in the same educational context, the same community, or to those from different communities.
Connection to Place – so that learning arises from a sense of belonging and that a sense of belonging can arise through learning.

Life-based Education

Crossfields Institute employs best practice from recent developments in integrativetransformative and transdisciplinary educational research and innovation.

Integrating theory with experiential and practical approaches to learning: we weave experience, theory and reflection together in ways that suit given contexts, subject matter and courses.
Integrating the domains of learning – the arts, sciences and contemplative practices: we value the distinctive methods and unique ways-of-knowing relevant to each of these domains, seeking opportunities for them to inform each other and to enhance learning for the whole human being.

Deep Learning involves transformation. This might be a transformation in our way-of-knowing, in our beliefs, in our life-styles, in our sense of self or in any combination of the above. Transformative learning can arise from rational, intentional processes aimed at renewing aspects of our life, or it can derive from processes and practices that unexpectedly invite transformation. The idea of invitation is important here, as we respect that the educational process cannot be forced or imposed.

Transdisciplinarity concerns that which is at once between the disciplines, across the different disciplines, and beyond each individual discipline. Its goal is the understanding of the present world, of which one of the imperatives is the overarching unity of knowledge.

Crossfields Institute Group – Life Changing Learning