Jennifer M. Gidley

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Postformal Education

Postformal Education Architecture

Postformal Education: A Philosophy for Complex Futures (Springer, 2016)

This book explains why the current education model, which was developed in the 19th century to meet the needs of industrial expansion, is obsolete. It points to the need for a new approach to education designed to prepare young people for global uncertainty, accelerating change and unprecedented complexity.The book offers a new educational philosophy to awaken the creative, big-picture and long-term thinking that will help equip students to face tomorrow’s challenges. Inside, readers will find a dialogue between adult developmental psychology research on higher stages of reasoning and today’s most evolved education research and practice. This dialogue reveals surprising links between play and wisdom, imagination and ecology, holism and love. The overwhelming issues of global climate crisis, growing economic disparity and the youth mental health epidemic reveal how dramatically the current education model has failed students and educators.

This book raises a planet-wide call to deeply question how we actually think and how we must educate. It articulates a postformal education philosophy as a foundation for educational futures.The book will appeal to educators, educational philosophers, preservice teacher educators, educational and developmental psychologists and educational researchers, including postgraduates with an interest in transformational educational theories designed for the complexity of the 21st century.

Notes on Gidley’s: Postformal Education: A Philosophy for Complex Futures

This is the most compelling book on education I have read for many years. While Jennifer Gidley declares the book is not about teacher education or educational policy, it has major implications for all who are in a position to influence developments in these fields. The book is remarkable for its historical sweep. Gidley is one of the very rare scholars who can write intelligently and accessibly about the past, present and future in education. I was challenged and ultimately convinced by her contention that ‘what masquerades as education today must be seen for what it is – an anachronistic relic of the industrial past’. However, she is a realist in acknowledging that such a relic cannot be changed in the short term: the challenge is to ‘co-evolve’ a radically new education. All who seek to play a part must read this book.

Brian J. Caldwell, PhD, Educational Transformations, former Dean of Education at the University of Melbourne and Deputy Chair, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)

It is with great enthusiasm that I read Jennifer Gidley’s masterful work that develops thought about education to a new level! The old, almost mechanistic, view of education must make way for what Gidley calls “postformal education” if we are to shape a rich future for human development. I’m surprised it took only ten years to write this amazing book, one that could turn thinking about education around. I could not ask for a better application of postformal theory!  

Jan D. Sinnott, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Towson University, Maryland, USA. Author of The Development of Logic in Adulthood: Postformal Thought and Its Applications (1998) Springer.

This is the book we have all been waiting for and should be read by educators, policy makers and everyone interested in the future through the transformative power of education in creating a wiser, more caring world with a vibrant future. This path-breaking book synthesizes the new thinking of philosophers in diverse areas of knowledge of the 20th century into a new model of integral education for a 21st century Integrative Age. There are many books on what is wrong with education but few on how to make fundamental systemic change.

David K. Scott, PhD, Former Chancellor, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Leading thinker on integrating science and spirituality. Co-editor: Integrative Learning and Action: A Call to Wholeness (2006) Peter Lang Publishers. 

Jennifer Gidley is one of the most provocative and important thinkers in education today. Her vision draws on the epic story of the evolution of consciousness as she presents us with the past, present and possible future of education. Interweaving ancient wisdom and the latest research, Gidley articulates an inspiring new and radical revisioning of the nature, mission, and role of education. 

Alfonso Montuori, PhD, Professor Transformative Studies Department, School of Consciousness and Transformation, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. Editor: Journeys in Complexity (2014) Routledge.

This important book is a labour of love that brims with profound thought, wide ranging research, an overarching spiritual vision and commitment to an educational renaissance that is desperately needed around our troubled world. By linking the evolution of consciousness, aesthetic values, child-development, the art of teaching, post-formal thinking, contemplative insights and social commitment it is a resource of great value. For today’s educational activists, who are concerned about the narrowness and over-competiveness that passes as educational policy in so many countries, it provides a solid and inspiring foundation for us to continue working in order to create an education that our children really need and deserve.   

Christopher Clouder, FRSA, Co-editor: The Future of Childhood (2000) Hawthorn Press. CEO – European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education (1991 – 2011). Pedagogical Director: Il Liceo dei Colli, Florence, Italy.

Photo Credit: Beautiful Marecollege Steiner School in Leiden, Netherlands. See also my Pinterest Board for other beautiful schools with postformal, organic architecture.




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