In continuous development
A SunWALK: a model of what it is to be human –
for use in ‘thinking’ in the professions or for personal development
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions – presented as extended interviews.
NB – SunWALK applied to education is Page 2b on this site.
Dr Roger Prentice EMAIL: rogerprenticeATbigfoot.com (replace AT with @)
The diagram-logo-mandala of the SunWALK model of holistic education
The 3 primary ‘colours’ of the human spirit represented as Arts & Creativity –
yellow; Science & Criticality – blue; Humanities & Caring – red.
a model of being human for personal and professional development
Why do we need a ‘model’ of what it is to be human?
There are many reasons including;
To help us think clearly.
To stop us being all head or all heart
To stop us being duped by our own culture
To stop us failing to see all the good stuff in our own culture
To help us see the most important c.f. the simply important
To generate creativity by bringing together head and heart
For personal development – to live our values more fully as well as thinking more clearly – and have the two in dynamic balance
For lack of such a universal model the world is in the mess that its in – consider just starvation, fundamentalism, terrorism, child abuse, pollution, war
Below the there is a short summary followed by a more comprehensive list of FAQs.
At its shortest and simplest the SunWALK model says this:
Viewed from the ‘inside’ the human spirit is:
a) caring (or the lack of it) – feelings for self and for others and for things
b) being ‘critical’ – i.e. thinking which is learning the names of things and analysing situations etc., and
c) creativity which is expressing feeling and thoughts (heart-mind) in some way – from your point of view.
These 3 internal ‘voices’ or ways we engage with self, others or things – the ‘I’ voice of creativity, the IT voice of criticality and the WE voice of caring/morality are fed by stuff outside
Viewed from the ‘outside’ we shape, and are shaped by, those externalized expressions of the human spirit that we call the sciences, the arts and the humanities.
The internal 3Cs are experienced in the context of our own world-view. This context I call the fourth C Community – it includes relationships & culture
What does it matter?
We are failing ourselves, our fellow human beings especially our children through valuing material things too much, and through ‘chopping up life’ into bits – so as to control things and get richer.
Not excluding the material necessities, we need to shift our learning and development from concern for life as just bits of this and bits of that to a balanced concern for the flow and process of the human spirit including experience of the whole – accepting that this includes mystery and that it is in this infinity of not knowing that we are truly united!
In our personal lives we need the balanced ‘nutrition’ of arts-creativity, thinking-criticality and values-caring – all in some form of Community. Artists, philosophers and moral teachers are equally important – and we need a balance in the culture we take in as well as in the dynamics of our interior, our heart-mind or consciousness. If we are one-sided we become unbalanced……..
Learning in professions or schools and universities are not really organized around balanced Caring, Criticality and Creativity and the fourth C, Community.
They are organized around ‘private banks’, private banks of information that are jealously guarded by special interest groups called ‘subject specialists and subject examiners’. Notice, the focus, the valuable stuff, is thought of as stuff/information not the children, and teachers, as people. Yet what do you remember most from school – not the stuff of information but the teachers that you loved, and the ones you hated.
The SunWALK model suggests we organize our personal development, and the learning of those for whom we are responsible, around the flow of the human spirit with balanced concern for Caring, Creativity and Criticality.
Is there an even shorter version?
Yup – it goes like this;
‘We need to WALK the path of life with friends/mentors/fellow-learners (we are all learners and teachers) in dialogue and in the light of our ‘Sun’ of higher-order values (or virtues) – this is the secret for gaining true development and happiness.’
We”ll come back to WALK – it stands for Wise & Willing, Acting, Loving and Knowing!
What do the bits of The SunWALK design-logo-’mandala’ mean?
The three inner circles are our three voices of caring, creativity & criticality. The outer circle corresponds – it is Community, the relationship network in which we live – and the culture of Arts, Science & Humanities.
The dot at the centre is the infinite mystery that is a) at the centre of all of us and b) beyond all that we know about the external ‘universe/s
The diagram can be used to plan your own personal development activities. Obviously the 3Cs are intellectual-spiritual and the body-physical dimension is the supreme agency of expression whether that is line dancing, rock-climbing or tiddly-winks!
Is the model just for personal development?
No – it can (should) also be used to think about how you are developing doctors, lawyers – or your own family.
Don’t forget that the diagram is to be looked at and used with the metaphor that sees our life and development as a journey – in dialogue with mentor-friends-teachers (+stops for creative expression!)
The ‘Sun’ bit is the values that light up the path and what we do as we journey along.
The WALK bit – Willing, and Wise, Action through Loving and Knowing – is a general goal for developing people – people who have the Caring, Criticality and Creativity sides of their human nature developed in a balanced way, who can use their abilities for the good of the Community, as well as for themselves.
Your ‘Sun’ or mine = the spiritual sources (philosophers, religious leaders, poets, family) that energise us to act in the world with others in Caring, Critical and Creative ways.
What is the spiritual?
The answer I like is;
The spiritual is the source of the will to act morally – or courageously or lovingly or honorably etc.
Does balanced development of the ‘3 voices’ produce 3 different kinds of knowing?
Yes – in developing ourselves, and those for whom we are responsible, we need to nurture the balanced growth of abilities in the three ‘voices’ in which civilized humans express themselves;
the WE voice of Caring – ‘other-centredness’/morality
– gives us social knowing
(culturally called ‘the Humanities’),
the IT voice of Criticality – naming/sorting/analysing
etc – gives us objective knowing
(culturally called ‘The Sciences’) and
the I voice of Creativity – expressing personal
experience – gives us subjective knowing
(culturally called ‘The Arts’)
Do these 3 ways of knowing all give us in-sight into reality?
Yes – all three Cs are seen as ways to reality if used in conjunction with each other. This emphasizes the need for balance between the 4Cs.
Do the 3 ways of knowing involve 3 different kinds of dialogue?
Yes – we come to know via dialogue – through internal dialogue (meditation) or external dialogue (consultation) – or creatively through dialogue between the inspiration and the material and the self.
What’s wrong with the personal and professional models education that we’ve got?
The assumptions are hidden and are dubious – as to what it means to be human – are we to consider our selves to be like a computer, or be like an animal or what?
Too materialistic etc.
Does SunWALK combine ancient & modern, East & West to get the wisest, most balanced approach?
Yes – the aims of the model derived from 25 major criteria (defining characteristics SEE PhD thesis on this site)’
It combines elements of Western approaches – parts – whole – individualism v individuality and
‘Eastern’ approaches – whole – parts – harmony and complementarity – West & East as two wings.
Is SunWALK both a mnemonic and a VERY short version of the model?
Sun =metaphor for the source of the individual’s higher-order values
WALK = Wise and Willing Action through Loving and Knowing
SunWALK embodies the idea of education as a life-journey in the dialogic company of our teachers/mentors/friends
Does SunWALK accommodate a range of sub-models?
The model’s many sub-models include;
a) An ‘interior’ model of the human spirit – in relation to ‘the world’.
b) A model for re-positioning personal and professional development within being & becoming human – in the world with others.
c) A general model of curricula – for primary, secondary and higher education.
d) A framework for the analysis and evaluation of personal and professional episodes or projects.
e) A model of personal and professional development that makes spiritual education and moral education intrinsic.
….and many other sub-models – SEE PhD on this site.
Does it make sense to distinguish in the model between our inner and outer worlds?
Some spiritual teachers say the two are one, but for most of us – except in experiences of unity – it is useful to distinguish between the two =- it prevents us walking into walls or off of cliffs!
Consequently the inner part of the SunWALK diagram represents interiority – I call it heart-mind – and the outer circle the external world.
The outer ring of the SunWALK logo combines two dimensions:
1 ‘Community’ i.e. the social, interpersonal dimension of interaction with other individuals or groups.
2 ‘Cultural sources’ including such dimensions as traditions, the political & the legal.
The three major divisions of the arts, sciences and humanities are here thought of as the stored, yet dynamic, accumulation of knowledge and beliefs and procedures – everything from galleries to written laws of physics that the individual can draw upon or be influenced by. This is the ‘stuff out there’ rather than the interiority of consciousness. It is the nest of contexts but also is the source of texts. And it shapes us as we take it in to our heart-mind. If we are very influential we mind shape a bit of it – a new invention, a new understanding; Einstein, Ghandi etc
Why do you call everything inside the outer circles heart-mind?
Because I think our interior selves are a unity. We don’t have a separate thing’ called feelings and another thing called thinking. Most feelings leads to thoughts and vice versa.
Because I think the atomised or little-box thinking of modernism has led us into problems. Psychology tends to make us think of faculties as non-physical organs. I prefer to see the human spirit as the flow of energy that splits into the 3 kinds of knowing according to need ‘I’ knowing, IT knowing and WE knowing. We switch rapidly between these. So that;
In SunWALK everything within the inner circle = a representation of;
‘interiority’, i.e. human consciousness or heart-mind – the ultimate expression of the human spirit – presented intra-personally as
3 ‘voices’ – 3 modes of being & of engaging with
reality to develop
BUT The 3 modes/voices emanate from the singleness of
metaphorically the 3 modes/voices are presented as the ‘primary colours’ of Creativity (the yellow of inspiration), Criticality (the blue of reason) & Caring (the red warmth of love)
Heart-mind at rest – as in meditation – doesn’t arise as one of the Cs, it is the common-sense that is the common cause of all three.
Are the three voices of ‘I’ knowing, WE knowing and IT knowing linked to particular virtues?
Yes! Creativity is the ‘I’ voice of subjective engagement via an artistic medium – it is particularly related to the core virtue ‘beauty’ and to ‘the Arts’ as the subjective way to insight into reality.
Criticality is the ‘IT’ voice of objective engagement which enables progress in the Sciences (& Math, Philosophy & ‘critical’ studies) – concerned with objective knowing – related particularly to the core virtue ‘truth as the objective way to insight into reality’
Caring is the ‘WE’ voice which enables moral engagement – for progress in the moral domain and in service of others. It is concerned with social knowing – related particularly to the core virtue ‘goodness’ & to ‘the Humanities’ as the moral-relational way to insight into reality’.
What are the other dimensions of the model and diagram?
Each individual develops her/his I, WE and IT voices, the 3Cs, via socialization, starting in the family, the local community and then later in formal education.
Justice is the chief virtue – internally as well as externally. A sense of justice is seen as paramount intra-personally as well as interpersonally i.e. it enables us to engage with that which is beautiful, good or true with balance, clarity & due weight i.e. With reality.
What about process?
The essential process in all 4Cs is multi-level dialogue. In the case of the individual dialogue is seen as meditation, reflection and inner-talk. In the case of groups it is dialectical process via consultation.
What about the ‘Celtic’ knot that surrounds the central shield?
The ‘Celtic’ knot that surrounds the central shield indicates that the 3Cs are simply aspects of the one human spirit – the flow of ‘heart-mind’. They interface and affect each other dynamically as in emotion leads to thought and vice versa.
And the ‘white shield’?
The white ‘shield’ at the centre represents the meditative state in which there is no ‘focused’ engagement via one of the 3Cs – and in which there is relatively little of the ‘white noise’ interference that we experience in the unquiet mind. This can enable us to ‘go beyond ourselves’, i.e. transcend our normal knowing – any of the 3Cs (I, WE or IT modes) can be a pathway to the transcendent and to subsequent improved insight into reality.
Tell me more about the black dot at the centre of the diagram
The black dot at the centre is the ‘well-spring’ of consciousness. For artists (and great scientists) it is the Muse. For religionists it is the voice of God within (albeit distorted by the dust of self). For non-religionists it is the inner source of spirit as energy & inspiration – the little bits of realization and insight that come to us for which we don’t make an effort.
As parents or mentors or leaders how does the model see learning and teaching?
Whether personally, professionally or in the family educating the human spirit is seen as nurturing the life-force which culminates in the developed human who, through higher-order consciousness, realizes abilities from within Caring, Creative or Critical engagements.
Teaching whether personally, professionally or in the family is seen as nurturing and cultivating what is normally present, almost from birth (conception?), & certainly by the time we go to school – namely the flow of spirit expressed in nascent forms of Caring, Creativity, and Criticality – in Community with others.
Learning whether personally, professionally or in the family holistically takes place when the learner uses Creativity, Criticality and Caring – in Community – inspired by higher-order values – in dynamic combinations such as Creativity providing texts for criticality – which then, via dialogue, produce the spirit for more creativity.
What about the spiritual dimension in the model?
Spirituality is intrinsic in the model not a ‘bolt-on extra’. It is not a dimension; it is the model as a whole.
In SunWALK moral development is not a dimension – they are one and the same.
The SunWALK logo can also be seen as a mandala, or even as a plan drawing for a fountain or an ‘arts centre of light’!
How big a shift does SunWALK represent?
SunWALK is a major shift to a process view of the world, of being human and of developing ourselves and others. It rejects a world-view that is limited to the mechanistic, the ‘human-as-computer, the fragmentary and the materialistic; seeking instead modelling that is based on flow/process, holism and the spiritual.
The shift – in the self or organization or family – requires a number of pre-requisites including;
1 Re-cognition that; “Spirituality is the source of the will to act morally.”
2 A partnership must exist between owners & shareholders, employees, parents, children, staff and wider community – i.e. all stake-holders.
3 Periodic consultations involving all stake-holders. They should only be concerned with setting broad policy which should then be left (accountably) to the ‘officers’ and ’staff’. From these agreements the ‘Board’ & the staff draw their authority, and responsibilities.
4 Respect for the many ways that people are nourished spiritually – but values are what really matter – pre-eminently justice, truth, beauty & goodness plus such other values, good manners etc., as are decided upon in stake-holder meetings.
5 The morale and responsiveness of the led depend on the quality of messages (including the spiritual and moral) that are communicated to by the leaders through a variety of means including;
how the leaders treat each other, and the led, ‘actions speak louder than words’. However the quality and clarity of principles and policies also matter a great deal.
In summary what is the model and the process in one ‘sentence’?
– the SunWALK model of spiritualizing pedagogy sees human personal and professional development as
the storied development of meaning,
which derives from ‘texts’, constructed, and de-constructed,
physically, mentally and spiritually, through
Knowing – developed in
Community, through the
‘Dialectical Spiritualization’ of
Criticality processes, all undertaken in
The light of the ‘Sun’ of chosen higher – order values and beliefs, using best available, appropriate content.
Don’t forget concepts can’t satisfy deep down – to feel truly united we need a sense of the mysterious whole in front of which we are amazed;
“Concepts are delicious snacks with which we try to alleviate our amazement”
A. J. Heschel, Man Is Not Alone p.7
NB Introduction – the key to this booklet
Everyone has a model of ‘what it is to be human’ in them. If you answer the questions found on my sites you will go a long way to articulating your own model – to compare & contrast with my answers.
The FAQs are questions that I have been asked in classes or conversations – or questions that help articulate what is meant within the SunWALK model of education. The booklet is occasionally revised with new questions added.
I have given my answers but for many readers the questions will prove at least as useful as what I have to say.
Eventually I hope that all key terms will be linked to a) a supporting article or academic paper, and b) a ‘primary author’ i.e. a practitioner or writer who contributed in a major way to a particular aspect of our understanding.
I have attempted to present the answer here in reasonably everyday language to make the ideas as accessible as possible. Many of the issues are dealt with in greater depth in other content elsewhere.
Please send additional questions or alternative answers to rogerprenticeATbigfoot.com replace AT with @
Some Key Inspirations – for RP
“Concepts are delicious snacks with which we try to alleviate our amazement.”
A. J. Heschel, Man Is Not Alone p.7
“The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of mystery.” Anon
“Education is what is left after you’ve forgotten everything you’ve learned.” B.F. Skinner
“A teacher should teach what is new by resurrecting what is old.” Confucius
“We should never be ashamed to approve truth or acquire it, no matter what its source might be, even if it might have come from foreign peoples and alien nations far removed from us. To him who seeks the truth, no other object is higher in value”. Rasa’il-Kindi (810-873) Arab philosopher & physician.