John Heron was the Founder and Director of the Human Potential Research Project (now Human Potential Research Group) at the University of Surrey, and since 2000 he has been Director of the South Pacific Centre for Human Inquiry in Auckland, New Zealand. In March 1991 he gave a keynote presentation at the SEAL Conference at the University of Reading, at which he described his most fascinating model of holistic learning. Having attended this presentation and an associated workshop run by Heron, I subsequently drew on his ideas for use in my own Brainware workshops. Heron explores his holistic learning and related ideas in the book Feeling and Personhood.
John Heron - Key Elements
Some of the elements of Heron's thinking which I have found particularly interesting and useful are as follows:
- Critical analysis of traditional higher education
Heron has drawn attention to the underlying Aristotelian basis of much of higher education: male-oriented, hierarchical controlling and with intellectual competence prized to the exclusion of all others (emotional competence, interpersonal competence, intuitive competence, etc.). He sees a vital need for student participation at all stages in the educational process, together with remedial affective education for academic staff.
- Model of holistic learning
This is a multi-modal up-hierarchy model, based on four modes of psychological being: practical, conceptual, imaginal and affective. Most significantly, according to this model human learning is firmly grounded in feeling, rather than thinking. (See Holistic Learning for brief details of how I adapted this model for my own workshops.)
- Eight states of personhood
Heron is concerned with the processes of human self-development, and he has mapped out 'eight states of personhood' through which individuals may move as they grow. These are: primal person, spontaneous person, compulsive person, conventional person, creative person, self-creating person, self-transfiguring person and charismatic person.
For further information about John Heron and his ideas and initiatives see:
- Free from copyright. No rights reserved. A new kind of book by John Heron 2006.
Google's 'John Heron' page
John Heron: Brief CV and Publications