Education for Life Philosophy

Education for Life is a Holistic “Whole-Person” System of Learning 

Holistic View, Holistic Learning, Holistic Education in action with children acting in a spiritual play

Living Wisdom School is based on Education for Life, a holistic educational model that seeks to bring out the best in each child through a balanced and individualized curriculum, within a joyful, heart-centered learning environment. The seminal book, Education for Life was written by J. Donald Walters, also known as Swami Kriyananda.

Our philosophy is rooted in the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, the great Indian teacher who introduced yogic principles to America. Yogananda is best known for authoring one of the spiritual classics of our time, Autobiography of a Yogi.

The goal of education is the same as the goal of life: to help children become, on every level—heart, mind, body, and spirit—more balanced, mature, effective, harmonious, and happy. Underlying all of our academic efforts is the understanding that relaxed, joyful children make the best learners. EFL educators see the destination for each student is maturity, the ability to relate appropriately to other realities than one’s own.

One of the core principles of Education for Life is the understanding that there are four Tools of Maturity we have within us to explore, learn, grow, and experience the world. The tools are developed and used in a balanced, harmonious way. Each is drawn on more strongly during different periods of childhood development and within each individual child.

We work to cultivate these four tools in each child:

  • Physical: healthy habits, body awareness, energy control, composure through breath, balance and movement; relating to life through the body.
  • Feeling nature: developing self-expression, creativity, and interrelationships between self and the rest of the world by cultivating emotional calmness and expansiveness: the ability to harness and channel turbulent emotions and to be in touch with one’s own calm, sensitive feeling as an invaluable tool of understanding; relating to life by feeling harmony, enjoying friendship, and expressing through the arts and music.
  • Dynamic and Persistent Will Power: focusing one’s energies towards overcoming obstacles and achieving success; relating to life by changing the outcome of events, mastering challenges, and accomplishing goals.
  • Clear, Practical Intellect: cultivating clarity of thought; relating to life through thinking, learning, and understanding.

Another core concept in Education for Life is Progressive Development. This describes a spectrum of attitudes and behaviors that lead us to the best version of ourselves. Each person has a natural level of consciousness that influences his or her relationship to the world around them. The less we are self-centered, the greater our happiness and wellbeing. As children advance along the Progressive Development scale, they experience a gradual expansion of consciousness, that in Education for Life is defined as “Maturity”, or “the ability to relate appropriately to other realities than one’s own.” 

40 Years of Education for Life

Education for Life has been used as the model for Living Wisdom Schools for over 40 years. Every school uniquely expresses the same proven principles. LWS was established in Portland in 1997 and is part of a global network of schools and associations. Since the first school opened in 1972, there have been schools and programs established in Oregon, Washington, California, Slovenia, Italy, Germany, and India, in both public and private settings.

LWS supports teachers, parents, children, and the community to engage in Education for Life principles, through the school, activities, events and adult classes.