Integrating science and soul in education:

The lived experience of a science educator bringing Holistic and Integral perspectives to the transformation of science teaching

by Dr Sue Stack (PhD, B.Sc (Hons))




This is an auto-ethnographic study into the lived experience of a science teacher as she attempts to transform her science teaching practice and the practice of other science teachers over a period of 15 years. In exploring what it means to be a holistic educator she is faced with disorienting dilemmas which cause her to question underpinning assumptions, values and curriculum frameworks which inform traditional science teaching practice and culture.  In trying to reconcile science and soul in the pedagogical space of a physics classroom her journey requires a deep investigation of self in various cultures – science culture, educational culture, modernist and postmodernist cultures.

Part 1 of the study introduces the key referents of Integral Theory, Holistic Education and Spirituality which she used to inform her changing education practice. Part 2 reflects on her journey from a traditional constructivist classroom, into ones which explore meaning, questioning, significance, discourse, ethics and enabling frameworks.

Part 3 concludes with an attempt to integrate science and soul into a vision for science educators. This includes a model which suggests that science has various development stages or cultures and that science teaching can be strategically aligned to facilitate the growth of human consciousness. 


Sue's introduction to her thesis (9min)




Contents and foreword


Part 1: Setting the Scene


Chapter 1 - Moving Towards Being a Holistic Teacher – a Holographic Introduction to My Thesis


Chapter 2 - Integral Theory

What is integral theory? Why is it useful? What implications does it have for educators? What might it be like to teach it in a classroom? How can it help me integrate science and soul?

Chapter 3 - Holistic Education Panorama

What does Holistic Education look like and feel like? What is the field of Holistic Education? What are the essences of Holistic Education? What are the implications for someone aspiring to be a Holistic Educator?

Chapter 4 - Spirituality in Education

What do we mean by soul? What can we learn from the literature on spirituality? In what ways can soul be present in education? What do we mean by spiritual literacies?


Part 2: My story


Epistemological Notes – April 2006

What are my questions?  What research methods have I used? How have I shaped my story? What are my claims to validity?

Chapter 5 – The Constructivist Classroom

Who is this person teaching physics? What do I have to know about this subject and what do I have to teach? How am I going to teach it? What does it mean to teach science as opposed to being a scientist? What is scientific inquiry?

Chapter 6 – The Meaningful Classroom

Who are my students? How do they learn? What activities can engage them and help them learn? What activities can connect them to their deeper selves? How does my view of what I am teaching effect the way I teach?

Chapter 7 – The Questioning Classroom

How do I encourage and manage questions? What do they reveal about my students? How do questions become the texture of science? How can questions be a spiritual quest?

Chapter 8 – The Significant Classroom

What does it mean for something to be significant? How is physics significant? What are the various ways that physics can be significant to students?

Chapter 9 – The Dialogical Classroom

What does good scientific dialogue sound like? What facilitates good dialogue and dialogical opportunities? What impact does a dialogical classroom have on student learning and being?

Chapter 10 – The Ethical Classroom

What does it mean to develop ethics in science? What role does science have in developing student’s moral development line? What does it mean to have a code of ethics as a scientist?

Chapter 11 - The Enabling Classroom

What are the power relationships between student and teacher? How might these be interpreted from a Holistic paradigm? What does it mean to empower students? What are the curriculum metaphors which shape the culture and constraints of education? What might be a holistic or integral curriculum metaphor?


Part 3 – Integrating science and soul


Chapter 12 – Steps Towards an Integral Science

What is science now and what can it be? Can science evolve? Can it assist in the evolution of world consciousness? What attributes might an integral scientist have? How might we integrate soul and science in education?




Appendix 1: Explicating the research process

What has been my research process? What has informed my research methodology? What concerns do I have about the research methods and processes?

Appendix 2: Comparison of Habits of Mind and Spiritual Qualities

Appendix 3: Transforming university physics teaching

What are the issues in assisting in the transformation of science teaching? What are the different cultural memes that scientists operate under as scientists and science teachers? How is the reformer transformed?

  Appendix 4: Student consent form
  Appendix 5: Comparison of subjects – Maths, Physics, Journalism at a Year 11/12 college
  Appendix 6: Physics Students Year 12 Focus Group: Initial Reactions by interviewer Jean Grosse
  Appendix 7: University Action Research Project – Interview Data Sample
  Appendix 8: Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (CLES)




Sue Stack is an educator, educational consultant and artist. 

She is co-founder of the Holistic Education Network of Tasmania


Contact:  (replace 'at' with @)

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