Ch. 27: Happiness, Success, and the TK-8 Curriculum

The Education for Life curriculum encompasses six areas. Each area embraces a special body of learning, together with personal qualities and attitudes that lead to a happy, successful life.

1. Our Earth/Our Universe

These activities expand the students’ awareness of the physical world. We give them a vision of the orderliness of the universe, appreciation and reverence for our place in the world, and an awareness of our shared responsibility for the well-being of the planet and of all creatures.

Our Earth / Our Universe helps the students understand the countless ways all life is interconnected. They move between hands-on observation and immersion in the academic subject matter, driven by a sense of adventure as they discover the mechanisms through which all aspects of the physical world are linked together.

“Science” can evoke images of people with withered hearts studying meaningless minutiae in sterile laboratories, and that’s unfortunate, since the sciences as taught in the Living Wisdom Schools are rated by the students as being among their most interesting, engaging, and fruitful subjects. It’s why we call this very special part of the curriculum “Our Earth — Our Universe.”

Our Earth — Our Universe embraces all branches of science, yet it suggests their connections, the orderly oneness of the cosmos, and the sense of awe before the wonders of creation that Einstein said is the essence of scientific discovery.

Instead of limiting our students to participating in life’s wonders as secondhand observers, we invite them to feel themselves part of the great mystery by giving them direct experiences. Our Earth — Our Universe encourages them to see the particular and universal in relation to each other. For example, we may ask them to ponder how physical laws provide a model for many areas of their lives — how Newton’s law of motion suggests a universal principle of action and reaction that operates in our relationships, and in the consequences of our thoughts and actions.

From a lifeless catalogue of facts, Our Earth — Our Universe lifts them into a view of reality that they can connect with in heartfelt and inspiring ways.

The separate sciences are not taught as compartmentalized disciplines, but as a unified totality that can be viewed from different angles. The discipline of scientific inquiry reveals in all nature a dignified coherence that mirrors the goal of education itself: true maturity. It’s easier to relate to diverse realities, when we can see them in meaningful relationship to one another, and finally to ourselves.

Our Earth — Our Universe embraces all branches of science: physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, general science, botany, geology, and anatomy.

Our Earth / Our Universe develops the following positive qualities:

Attitudes of care. The Japanese conservationist Tanaka Shozo said, “The question of rivers is not a question of rivers, but of the human heart.” We help our students feel their place in nature and their connection with all living things. Feeling connected engenders attitudes of caring.

We encourage the students to interact with the physical world with appreciation. We help them understand the underlying structures of the cosmos with a curriculum that is designed to elicit their enthusiasm, through guided discussions, field trips, and science fair projects. We help them understand how they can apply the scientific method in creative ways to express their understanding of fundamental principles.

Curriculum for Our Earth / Our Universe:

Interdisciplinary science (overview) Biology
Botany Geology
Anatomy Physics
Astronomy Chemistry
Ecology and sustainability  

2. Personal Development

In the Living Wisdom Schools we nurture three areas of personal growth: physical, mental, and spiritual; and we help each student grow toward realizing their unique, individual potential in each area.

We give our students tools to pursue their inner growth. We help them understand their unique learning style, and we tailor the curriculum to stimulate their enthusiasm for academics and personal achievement.

Personal Development cultivates the following positive qualities:

Perseverance. We help student to experience the joy of overcoming challenges by analyzing obstacles and applying the right tools to find solutions and achieve their goals. Daily success experiences of success develop their self-confidence to welcome challenges as opportunities to experience the joy of mastery.

Self-control and joyful self-discipline. Learning to control their own physical, mental, and emotional energy opens portals for the students to understand and relate appropriately to others’ realities. In a climate of calm self-restraint and respectful appreciation, attitudes of kindness and compassion flourish.

We help the students develop joyful self-discipline by teaching them how to be calmly aware and mentally focused while completing their academic work and interacting with others.

Subjects that foster growth in Personal Development:

Physical education Sports
Health and hygiene Mental skills such as concentration, memory development, and organization
Math computation skills Any subject matter that involves memorization
Long-term projects Learning new tasks such as CPR, typing, etc.
Developing and applying positive personal qualities such as gratitude, contentment, honesty, servicefulness, and responsibility Self-Expression and Communication


3. Self-Expansion and Communication

Learning to express ourselves effectively is essential for academic achievement and for our ability to interact meaningfully with others.

Recognizing the importance of these skills, we carefully and consciously help our students develop clarity of thought and creative self-expression. We help them learn to express their ideas and feelings verbally and in their schoolwork.

Our students develop writing skills that give them a tremendous advantage when they enter high school. Our graduates routinely thank us for giving them a head start in writing well-thought-out, creative papers and research reports.

Language Arts at Living Wisdom School conforms to our school’s focus on teaching young students to be enjoyably immersed, enthusiastically engaged, and creatively insightful.

The students receive intensive help with vocabulary development. Through constant feedback, encouragement, and hands-on instruction in copyediting and rewriting, we teach our students to write and speak in a manner that communicates clearly to the reader or listener — a rare and extremely important skill for success in business, technology, and academia.

Lessons in Self-Expression and Communication foster the following positive qualities:

Honest, objective introspection

Clarity of thinking

Clarity of expression


We measure the students’ growth in this area by the clarity of their written and oral communications, the originality of their work, and the degree to which it reflects honest thinking and enthusiastic engagement.

Subjects that foster growth in Self-expression and Communication:

Mathematics Writing mechanics
Creative writing Interpretive dance
Music composition Music interpretation
Computer programming Creative problem-solving
Engineering The use of the voice as a vehicle for self-expression in speaking and singing
Public speaking Insights for developing creativity
Visual arts Drama
Vocabulary development Foreign languages

4. Understanding People

The elementary years from roughly age six to twelve are the time in a young person’s life for refining the ability to feel. The quality of instruction therefore has huge repercussions for the student’s life in high school and beyond, since feeling is the faculty that enables us to tell right from wrong, and to act rightly, with respect and empathy for the realities of others.

Our practical approach to helping the students develop these important life skills permeates their every day at Living Wisdom School.

The primary medium for students to learn to be aware of their feelings and direct them in positive, expansive ways is the arts. We therefore encourage the honest expansion of the students’ calm, perceptive feelings through theater, music, the visual arts, and by observing and guiding them as they learn to interact and communicate meaningfully, with awareness of how their words and actions may affect others.

We employ effective conflict resolution methods that transform disagreements into experiences of personal expansion.

We help the students discover how they can achieve what all human beings everywhere desire most deeply: increasing happiness, and freedom from suffering, by becoming aware of the actions and attitudes that lead to lasting happiness and inner freedom for themselves and others.

The ability to understand others opens portals for insights into ourselves. Our students discover the rich rewards of learning calmly, without judgment, from their own successes and missteps, and those of others. Through their daily interactions, they learn these lessons up close and in three dimensions, with lasting positive effects for their character formation and for developing a strong sense of values. As their understanding grows, they gain a deepening ability to empathize and feel compassion for others — and themselves.

Lessons in Understanding People foster the following positive qualities:

The ability to understand the underlying impulses and motivations behind the actions of others

The ability to recognize similarities between others’ motivations and their own

The ability to translate other people’s experiences into wise insights to guide their own lives

The ability to enjoy positive interactions, by drawing on their understanding of behaviors that create harmony, cooperation, and happiness for all

Growth in this area is evidenced by the skill with which the students interact harmoniously, and the choices they make. We can also monitor growth in this area through the insights they express in their discussions and schoolwork.

Subjects that foster growth in Understanding People:

The study of other cultures and their customs and beliefs Geography
History World religions
Psychology Travel
The study of the lives of great people  

5. Cooperation

We teach our students practical skills for cooperating with others. They learn from their own experiences that cooperation is an enjoyable and productive way to work.

The ability to cooperate will come more easily to some students than others, but the environment and culture at LWHS ensure that every student will experience the joys of working and playing in an atmosphere of self-expansion, harmony, and inclusiveness.

The students are given endless opportunities to practice cooperative attitudes and gain skills that will be invaluable in all areas of their lives — in their career, relationships, and in raising their own children.

Our instruction is practical. We are focused on understanding the needs of the individual student and adapting our instruction accordingly. The teachers give extremely careful attention to observing the student’s nature and tendencies, and to helping them rise to their own best level of academic and personal performance.

The roles we may be called upon to play in our lives as students, employees, partners, and parents will inevitably involve other people. Where harmonious relationships lead to greater happiness in every area, a lack of harmony is bound to erode our happiness and success. Refined cooperative skills will make our interactions with others far more satisfying and successful.

Lessons in Cooperation foster the following positive qualities:

The ability to be flexible and not overly attached to our own opinions and desires

A genuine caring for the well-being of others

An ability to compromise gracefully without compromising our principles

An ability to learn from others

Flexibility in our thinking

We will be able to observe the student’s growth in this area in the harmony and effectiveness of their interactions with others.

Subjects that foster growth in Cooperation:

The study of human cooperation in the contexts of history, science, literature, economics, the arts, business, etc. Supportive leadership
Listening skills Etiquette
World language and culture  

6. Wholeness

We achieve an inner sense of wholeness when we can bring our five Tools of Maturity into a harmonious balance of body, heart, will, mind, and soul.

This area of study focuses on how the separate curriculum areas blend and overlap each other, and how each enhances the others. For the individual student, Wholeness reflects how their experience of Education for Life has helped them become a well-integrated, mature young person.

Lessons in Wholeness foster these positive qualities:

When we’re facing challenges, Wholeness helps us draw on a diverse range of personal qualities and identify external resources to solve the issues at hand.

Wholeness increases a child’s ability to face each situation by looking at it from a variety of perspectives and discerning which is/are the most appropriate to the present circumstance.

Wholeness is reflected in our ability to look past the small, separate details of a situation or a person and see the big picture.

We can monitor children’s growth in this area by observing their actions and their results. When interacting with others, or when facing challenges, are they able to respond in ways that bring about positive change? Do they habitually apply the skills most appropriate for the people and situations before them? Do they demonstrate a commitment to living by their highest ideals?

Subjects that foster growth in Wholeness:

The following academic subjects influence the students in ways that cross domains. They will frequently expand the student’s awareness by helping them be more energetic, creative, insightful, sensitively aware, and happy.

Music Meditation and other centering practices
Art Literature
Philosophy Religion
Nature studies  


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.