The Worldview Explorations™ Project
It is clear that thriving in the 21st century will require dramatic changes in the way we handle encounters with difference and complexity, a shift that asks us to consider anew the way we educate ourselves. It is no longer possible to separate training of the intellect from the cultivation of emotional and social intelligence, and it is essential that we begin to focus not simply on acquiring information.
We begin with setting an intention to understand and appreciate the fundamental role worldview plays in our lives. Then we create a safe and comfortable environment for inquiry, self-reflection, and social relations and communication around the topic of worldview.
Participants identify and take actions applying the tools and competencies they learn in worldview explorations in their lives, their families, and their communities.
An Organizational Progression of Lessons
The curriculum of the Worldview Explorations Project is divided into three main units with multiple lessons in each unit.
Unit One: Understanding Ourselves
The first section of the Worldview Explorations curriculum focuses on worldview in the context of the SELF.
- Each of us has a worldview.
- Worldview informs every aspect of our experience.
- Much of our worldview lies below the threshold of our awareness.
- There are many factors that shape our worldviews, such as our religion, upbringing, region, socioeconomic status, personality, and even the language we speak.
- We can bring our worldview into greater awareness through directing our attention toward it and engaging in experiential inquiry.
- Tuning into the wisdom of the body.
Unit Two: Understanding Others
The second section of the curriculum focuses on worldview in relationship to OTHERS.
- We respond to people who hold alternative worldviews in different ways, both positive and negative.
- One way to understand our responses to different worldviews is to learn about what triggers us, what inspires us, and how we can develop ways of regulating negative emotions and enhancing positive ones.
- Developing skills of compassion and forgiveness for others and ourselves offers an effective way of reducing stress and making conscious choices about how we interact with others.
- Stereotypes and assumptions are impacted by the media and often are informed by factors that we do not pay attention to or have habituated to over time.
- Cross-cultural awareness and personal communication with people from different cultures and traditions provides opportunities to practice skills to navigate different worldviews.
Unit Three: Interacting With and Contributing To the World
The third section of the curriculum focuses on how we interact with and contribute to THE WORLD AROUND US.
- As we move our awareness from our own personal worldviews to that of other cultures and points of view, we engage with the world and our own sense of leadership, identifying heroes and role models that reflect the perspectives we intend for ourselves and our community.
- Our individual and social systems are embedded in our natural world and how we relate to nature is part of our worldview.
- Drawing the distinction between competition, cooperation and collaboration, we can work with others in ways that support appreciation for multiple worldviews and allow for synergy.
- Exploring a systems perspective: a worldview that sees the connections between the parts and their interdependence, can impact our beliefs and actions.
- Participating with others in co-creating a project that explores diverse worldviews and communicates this to a global audience.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
The Worldview Explorations Curriculum complements and enhances the academic training that students receive at school and is based upon sound Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) practices that address competencies in:
(3) Relationship skills
(4) Critical thinking
(5) Problem solving and decision making
Numerous studies have pointed to the effectiveness of SEL in the classroom. For instance, research substantiates that effective strategies for educational reform involve (1) a central focus on school climate change (Greenberg, et al, 2003), and (2) infusing social and emotional learning (SEL) into regular academic lesson plans (Zins, Weissberg, and O'Brien, 2003). SEL is cited, as being effective, because it gives students the opportunity to experience a balance of intellectual and emotional instruction, which leads to more complete psychological development, and helps them become more engaged and skillful learners.
Further benefits of combining SEL and academic instruction have been identified in "Links between Safe School Environments and Academic Achievement" (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning: CASEL, 2003):
- Improved math, language arts, and social studies skills
- Increases in achievement over time (elementary to middle school)
- Higher achievement test scores and no decreases in score
- Improved learning-to-learn skill
- Better problem solving and planning skills
- Improved non-verbal reasoning
- Increased emotional self-regulation
Because of the synergy between SEL and academic instruction, the Worldview Explorations Curriculum will enable teachers to meet numerous national teaching standards. In addition to meeting these standards, the goal of the Worldview Explorations Project is to give students the tools for success in the 21st century. Some of those tools include:
- Cognitive flexibility
- Comfort with unfamiliarity
- Appreciation of diverse perspectives
- Agility in the face of rapidly changing circumstances
- Inter-cultural communication
- Ability to hold multiple points of view simultaneously
- Capacity for discernment that relies equally on intellect and intuition
- Conflict resolution
Worldview is the starting point and the framework from which each of these skills can be learned.