Mapping Integrative Education

The Middle Way as mapping the integration of theory and practice

Four kinds of integration

Starting with a personal synthesis – the Trainee approach

One approach to the map, especially useful for trainee teachers, is to use it as a starting point to help navigate the educational values of one’s personal educational philosophy; enabling you to be critically and creatively aware of your own positionality. As part of early career academic and professional development the map can help clarify your own preferences in comparison with multiple and complex starting points. Being able to define and justify which modes you prefer can inform an emerging personal synthesis which is both practical and academically credible. A big picture personal teaching philosophy which already looks ahead to integrating aspects of leadership development and sustainable development will enhance employability. Likewise reflexively stacking positions in order of preference, can help you realise a professional integrity amidst conflicting and fragmenting ideologies vying for influence in education. Thus each of the four integrative practices mapped in the Educative Middle Way can be starting points for determining one’s

Towards a pragmatic synthesis – the experienced Professional approach

A second approach to the Educative Middle Way map is to begin with the integrative practice with which we are most engaged, reflecting our current professional responsibilities and priorities. Thus someone who primarily supports the personal development of individuals is likely to engage with the map of integrative mentoring but then select those modalities from other practices which enhance their mentoring, coaching, counselling etc. Such users of the map are eclectic in selecting what is most useful and technical in choosing techniques beneficial to clients’ learning needs. Similarly, organisational leadership responsibilities might mean that integrative leadership becomes one’s core practice in relation to any of the teaching modalities which strategically enhance an educative approach to teacher leadership. Or it may be that we give primacy to education for sustainable development to which any ad hoc technical aspects of leadership, teaching and mentoring are also integrated. Technical eclecticism is pragmatic in respecting the need for diverse strategies that work and allowing for theoretical differences between them.

Reaching for a complete synthesis – the Academic approach

A third legitimate approach to the map is to recognise the importance of all four integrative practices at the outset and use them as a basis for the comprehensive integration of educational theory in one’s own practice. This is to combine and synthesise all the modalities and modes into one framework much as they are presented in the Educative Middle Way map which attempts to outline a complete synopsis of theoretical options guiding and informing the development of practice as a whole. There are relatively few attempts at systematically combining the global dimensions of personal, pedagogical, professional and planetary development combining the fields of mentoring, teaching, educational leadership and education for sustainable development. This synthesis is thus a systematic philosophical attempt at mapping such theoretical integration. There may still be some theoretical differences but the map itself supports a coherent approach which seeks to reconcile contrasting perspectives and opposing tendencies in the search for passionate balance in practice. Four integrative practices working together in theoretical harmony for the sake of personal, pedagogical, professional and planetary thriving as a whole are better than one reductive practice dominating and distorting the educative potential of the other three.

Developing a better synthesis – the Mindful Practitioner Researcher approach

A fourth approach to the Educative Middle Way map is to appreciate its cartography as one practitioner’s existential quest to integrate a set of practices that have most informed their own personal living theory as a lifelong educator. The map reflects the career path of someone who has been a teacher and headteacher in schools and who is now extending this expertise mindfully into joined up mentoring and sustainable development in a higher education setting.  As such the map represents an example of the most significant theory-in-use that has been assimilated over the course of one career by one person. To some extent this rightly relativises and contextualises the synthesis and limits the scope of the theoretical integration achieved. At the same time however it also guards against its absolutisation and acts as a situated if relatively abstract record of lived inquiry. More importantly, it serves as a catalyst to developing a more comprehensive and better integrated living theory of one’s own through dialogue. Such integrative educators would then be focused primarily on mapping their own practice, assimilating and refining practical theory as reflective practitioners and engaging in cooperative inquiry with some help from the EduSynthesis map as an example, but creatively seeking to improve it or critically developing a valid alternative that integrates other modalities. The sharing and improvement of maps with one another thus becomes an integral part of the dialogue which began with personalised philosophy.

Mapping 4 Integrative Practices

The four global integrative practices seek to encapsulate the philosophical importance of teaching at different scales of development: personal, pedagogical, professional and planetary. Each integrative practice is conceived as a quest to develop your own composite personal philosophy of education as well as expand the scale of reflective practice


Integrative Sustainability. Developing your own personal world philosophy (PWP) as the overarching goal of transformation. The planetary dimension of educational development is the goal of teaching in respect of creating a better world and caring about the sustainability of the planet as a whole. This is an aspirational motivation intrinsic to the vocation to teach and culminates the work of the other dimensions in the process of worldwork.


Integrative Leadership. Developing your own personal leadership philosophy (PLP) as the instrument of transformation. The professional dimension of educational development is the means by which teachers exercise leadership to enable effective teaching. It concerns the operational development of the profession as a network instrumental to each of the other dimensions.


Integrative Teaching. Developing your own personal teaching philosophy (PTP) as the direction of transformation. The pedagogical dimension of educational development recognises the strategic function of teachers’ craftwork in the teaching and learning of classes and groups. How a teacher teaches provides crucial educative agency and direction for the other dimensions.


Integrative Mentoring. Developing your own personal mentoring philosophy (PMP) as the ground of transformation. This dimension of educational development recognises the ground of reflective practice in the person and selfwork of the teacher. It encompasses our own personal development and how we facilitate the personal development of others on a 1:1 basis, both peers and students.

Mapping 16 Modalities of Integrative Education

Each integrative practice of educational development consists of four composite modalities, making sixteen interconnected modalities in total.

The Modalities of Integrative Sustainability

The sustainability modalities consist of a practical and theoretical balance between Worldview, Citizenship, Stewardship and global Sustainable Development Goals. Worldview dialogue as the reconciliation of diverse worldviews is the grounding activity of sustainable development; a fourfold approach to global citizenship, which includes four of the UN sustainability competences, gives direction in mobilising people for sustainability; the other four sustainability competences provide the instrumental means by which stewardship is exercised in response to wicked world problems;  and the pursuit of the 17 UN global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is the superordinate goal of planetary development.

The Modalities of Integrative Leadership

The Leadership modalities concern the development of appreciative Teamwork, leadership Style, organisational Culture and school Mission, integrated in one’s personal leadership philosophy. Teamworking is the grounding activity of teacher leadership development in association with colleagues; a blend of leadership styles provides direction for an organisation; co-creating a dynamic professional culture based on the harmonisation of competing values is the means by which an organisation operationalises its work; and pursuing a balanced range of school or university missions is the goal of leadership development.

The Modalities of Integrative Teaching

The teaching modalities consist of a practical and theoretical balance between modes of Curriculum Philosophy, modes of Positive Teaching, modes of Learning in Depth and modes of Thinking in Community integrated into one’s personal teaching philosophy. Establishing an authentic curriculum philosophy amidst competing ideologies is the grounding activity; positive teaching gives direction and agency to didactics; learning in depth via kinds of understanding is the instrument of culturally-intelligent education; and pursuing a comprehensive range of thinking in community is the end goal of all the teaching modalities in practice.

The Modalities of Mentoring

The mentoring modalities consist of a practical and theoretical balance between modes of Knowing in reflective practice, modes of 1:1 Facilitation in supporting individual learners, modes of holistic learning and modes of transpersonal Actualisation in living one’s personal philosophy. Embodied knowing is the grounding activity of reflective personal development; forms of individual facilitation give direction to self-directed personal development when helping others; holistic learning is the instrumental means by which personal development is enabled; and pursuing our practical spiritual potential is the goal of personal development.

Mapping 64 Modes of Integrative Education

Each composite modality in turn consists of four component modes which makes an array of 64 developmental modes in total. The multiplicity of modes is indicative of the depth and complexity of practice and also illustrates the philosophical precision of EduSynthesis as a whole. The synopsis mapped below signposts the significance of each component mode in relation to the whole but for practical purposes EduSynthesis focuses on the skillsets of the 16 modalities. Thus each mode will have resonance and applicability beyond its own modality which could be utilised pragmatically in an eclectic mix and match approach depending on a teacher’s needs, opportunities and context. However, a mode is most theoretically coherent and practically useful when developed dynamically in harmony with the other three modes in a particular composite cluster. For this reason the theoretical framework focuses on the 4 integrative practices and their 16 modalities which are most meaningful and user-friendly for integrative reflective practitioners and transformative teachers.

© 2024 EduSynthesis

Centre for Mindful Educational Leadership

Tim Saunders PhD


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