Talons (progam for gifted grade 9 and 10s) philosophy and more…

I was recently asked about the philosophy of the Talons (The Academy of Learning for Outstanding, Notable Students) program and how it implements its theory into practice.  Its theory and practice inform one another on almost a daily basis and our learners often influence our practice more than anything else.  While its approach is grounded in the Autonomous Learner Model developed by George Betts, we adopt and merge other insights as they seem fit and a good match.

My own personal/professional philosophy of learning is mostly influenced by people such as David Orr, Chet Bowers, Fritjof Capra, Rachel Carson, Barbara McClintock, Barbara Kingsolver and Donella Meadows.  Capra stresses three elements of particular importance to me:

1. relationships

2. connectedness

3. context

He advocates for a shift in perception that is:

1. from the parts to the whole

2. from objects to relationships

3. from objective knowledge to contextual knowledge

4. from quantity to quality

5. from structure to process

6. from contents to patterns

Meadows refers to systems thinking as a dance:

1. get the beat.

2. listen to the wisdom of the system.

3. expose your mental models to the open air.

4. stay humble. Stay a learner.

5. honor and protect information.

6. locate responsibility in the system.

7. make feedback policies for feedback systems.

8. pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable.

9. go for the good of the whole.

10. expand time horizons.

11. expand thought horizons.

12.expand the boundary of caring.

13. celebrate complexity.

14. hold fast to the goal of goodness.

 It is up to us to do these things!

(Source: Stone, Michael and Barlow, Zenobia (2005). Ecological Literacy Educating our children for a sustainable future).