is much discussion in education and psychology about the need
the whole child." But what exactly does that mean? In order
to answer that question one needs to have some view of the nature of a human
being and the purpose
of this life. The concept of "Becoming a Brilliant Star" is
designed to address this issue as a guide to developing home-
and school-based educational curricula for parents, educators,
and others responsible for developing the qualities of children
and youth. The basic philosophy stems from dynamical systems theory
and the approach has been labeled "holistic formative education"
to emphasize the need to focus more on the formative processes
in each of the multiple domains of human development.
Brilliant Star graphics shown below focus attention on three critical
issues facing young people today: vision, character and competence.
Vision has to do with dreams and goals of what is possible and
desirable to do. Character deals with the habits or patterns of
thinking, feeling, willing, and behaving that relate to right
and wrong, to justice and equity, and to morality and ethics.
Competence concerns the knowledge, values, attitudes, and skills
that link to successful performance. All three issues are
intertwined and difficult to isolate, although our experience
suggests these can be observed separately in people.
Brilliant Star is comprised of two core elements and ten domains.
The two core elements are character and style and are foundational
to development in the ten domains.. Style involves
all of the personality, temperament, learning style, and other
ways that help us define our uniqueness. Character refers
to the underlying qualities of a person's moral or ethical knowledge,
attitudes, values, and commitments that are systematically displayed
in one's behavior. Character is associated with the quality of
one's life, especially in terms of moral and ethical decisions
and actions. The major distinction of character is that it is
seen in one's behavior. One cannot rely exclusively on surveys
or interviews, especially those related to hypothetical situations,
to make statements about character. Data must come from actual
behavior or, at a minimum, reports of actual behavior.
the ten domains, five are in essence more internal in that they
relate to intrapersonal aspects of ourselves:
(soul, connection with the divine, the unknowns of the universe,
the ultimate purpose(s) of life);
(physical, relation to nature) and
faculties of mind traditionally
identified in psychology
(thinking, reasoning, rational intelligence),
(emotions, values, emotional intelligence) and
(will, volition, self-regulation).
of the domains are more external in that they relate to more interpersonal
aspects of human development:
(mate selection, spousal relationships, parenting),
(peer groups, interpersonal relations),
and career (arts and professions),
and finances (material wealth, sources of income, stewardship),
(involvement with social/cultural issues such
world peace, unity of humankind, gender and racial equality,
is in these ten domains that one is expected to develop competence.
As previously stated, character and personal style are central
(as indicated by their placement in the middle of the star) in
that they influence learning and development in all domains. Vision
relates to all ten domains and the two core elements in that one's
ideas about possibilities and desires leads one to set goals and
strive for excellence in each area.
synonyms for Brilliant Star as discussed here might be champion, spiritual or celestial
leader, or even giraffe
(one who is willing to stick his or her neck out.) This is the
opposite of someone who accepts being average or mediocre or sees
himself or herself as a failure or loser.
is important to acknowledge that the more internal domains of
spiritual, physical, cognitive, affective and conative development
are actualized in interaction with the more external domains of
family, friends, career, finances, and social. For example, in
early childhood one's understanding of family
and the other external domains is heavily influenced by one's
cognitive and emotional development. The reverse is also
true; as one's development in the more external areas become more complex this can
impact one's problem solving strategies and values system.
Brilliant Star model also recognizes that the domains and core
elements are developed in interaction with the more overarching
influences (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). At the first level
is the family, the school, the religious organizations, and friends
or peer groups. At a more macro level, the influences include
the culture, international region (such as NAFTA), and the global
fundamental principles guide the development of the Brilliant
Star concept and the selection of materials shown below. First,
human beings are considered as spiritual beings,
a belief fundamental to all major world religions,
as well as many philosophers and scientists
(e.g. Templeton & Giniger, 1998). The sacred writings of the
different faiths are an important source that we can use to develop
the knowledge base for a vision of what excellence would look
like in each domain. Philosophers have been discussing issues
of spirituality from ancient times as exemplified
in the writings of Socrates and Plato. And history has
documented the success of many historical spiritual and religious
figures. An immense amount of wisdom from these sources
has been amassed over thousands of years of human history. Science
is a relative newcomer to this process in that the writings of
scientists span a little over a hundred years about what it means
to be human. Despite the attempt to justify a totally materialist
view of human beings by many scientists, important scientists
such as Einstein and Jung have rejected this view.
second, corollary principle is that no
single source of knowledge about what it means to develop human
potential should be used to define how to "Become A Brilliant
Star." Science, religion, philosophy, history,
literature, and the arts all
have different standards by which to judge truth or the validity
of concepts and principles. Each of these can provide standards
by which we can judge alternatives of how to develop human potential.
The small sampling of links to materials
shown below demonstrates the unity, as well as the diversity, among
different sources of information as it relates to human
growth and development.
the concept is being developed from a "systems" or "organismic"
perspective. From this viewpoint, the individual is seen as a
self-organizing system influencing and
being influenced by the natural, social, and cultural contexts
in which one lives. Bandura's (1986) concept of "reciprocal determinism"
and Bronfenbrenner's (1979) concept of "the ecology of development"
capture the idea that individuals both influence and are influenced
by their environments. Sternberg's (1994) view that intelligence
(or the capacity to learn) is shown when the individual is influenced
by environment, when influencing the environment, or when selecting
a more appropriate environment to meet one's needs or desires
makes this same point. The systems view is compatible with
the most modern of scientific paradigms (e.g., Capra, 1996) as
well as several divine philosophies (e.g., De Chardin, 1989; Savi,
fourth principle is that success in any venture is the result
of first developing a vision of what is possible, developing
written goals to achieve that desired outcome, taking action
and measuring results, and finally, reflecting and making adjustments
until desired results are achieved. The concept of W.Y.M.I.W.Y.G.
(What You Measure Is What You Get; Hummel & Huitt, 1994) is
central to this process. What you focus on through assessment
and measurement becomes the end result you achieve, whether you
had previously stated it or not or even if you had set some other
result as a goal. Stated another way, we grow towards what we
focus on. It is absolutely critical that we systematically assess our progress in assisting young people in their multidimensional
growth process; otherwise we will simply continue to put energy
into a single dimension such as academic achievement in basic
skills as measured by standardized test scores. While this single
measure might be important it does not capture the full-extent
of what it means to be human or to fully develop one's capacities.
are a variety of materials on this site related to developing
vision and competence in each of these domains and core elements
as well as on the conditions for that development. Selecting the
appropriate term below will link to materials from religious scripture,
philosophical discourse, individuals in history who have demonstrated
excellence in a particular area, or writings from a perspective
can begin to work on "Becoming A Brilliant Star" right away. Download
the Brilliant Star graphic
(pdf format) and assess yourself. The terms provided will help
you identify where you are now in each dimension. A description of
how I use this in a classroom setting (pdf format) is available.
you have drawn and colored your star ask yourself the following
does my star look like now?
would I like it to look like?
where you are now and where you would like to be in each of these
areas. Then select one or two areas for concentrated attention.
might want to develop a mission statement
as one way to help you think about your priorities. In addition,
Waitley (1996) advises imagining what your life would be like
if time and money were not an object in your life. That is, what
would you do this week, this month, next month, if you had all
the money and time you needed and were secure that both would
be available again next year.
set some one year goals and some
goals and write them down. Take some action everyday as you
work to complete your goals. Develop an affirmation statement
that you can repeat daily to help you stay on track. Make a checklist, start a journal, dialogue regularly with a mentor, or do something
similar to hold yourself accountable to
achieving your goals. You might also start each day with
for the Day" exercise that will help you focus on the qualities
necessary to become a Brilliant Star.
we start a new century, there is wide-spread belief that we must
alter the schooling and education of our children and youth (Huitt,
1999). A variety of educational programs have been developed
to address the important concerns of vision, character, and competence.
One problem with most educational programs is that they focus
on only one goal (e.g., high academic test scores
or character development) to the exclusion of other important
(e.g., emotional stability or self-regulation).
Additionally, the foundation of the majority of these programs
has been based on principles identified through philosophy or
science. Unfortunately, many of these programs have been
a disappointment to their founders. One
reason may be that the programs were not founded on the best information
provided through scientific investigation and research. However,
another reason may be that the programs were founded ONLY on the
principles of science. Fundamental truths offered by spiritual
or religious teachings of the major world religions,
philosophers, historical figures,
authors, artists, or other important sources were perhaps
ignored or not utilized. Since vision and morality are
fundamental to all religious teachings, the omission of insights
from religious scripture is likely significant. However, since
science has discovered many principles related to learning and
development that are not intuitively obvious (see Slavin, 2003),
using only an alternative source such as religious
scripture or philosophy and not using
the scientific method to develop educational programs is equally
difficult to justify.
purpose of the materials at this site is to begin to remedy this
deficiency. The materials are intended to be used to develop
courses and programs of study that will allow the knowledge base
developed through science
(e.g., see Educational
Psychology Interactive), religion, philosophy, and history to guide the holistic
development of the education and training of young people.
A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social-cognitive
theory. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press.
F. (1996). The web of life: A new understanding of living
systems. New York: Doubleday.
Chardin, P. T. (1989). Divine milieu. New York: HarperCollins.
D. (Ed.). (1990). Archetypal process: Self and divine in
Whitehead, Jung, and Hillman. Chicago: Northwestern University
W. (1999). Implementing effective school achievement reform:
Four principles. Paper presented at the School Counseling
Summit, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA, April 20.
Retrieved: May 1999. [http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/files/school_reform.html]
J., & Huitt, W. (1994, February). What you measure is what
you get. GaASCD Newsletter: The Reporter, 10-11. Retrieved: May 1999. [http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/files/wymiwyg.html]
J. (1989). The eternal quest for God: An introduction to
the divine philosophy of Abdu'l-Bahá. Oxford: George
R. (1997). Educational psychology: Theory and practice
(7th ed.). Boston: Allyn-Bacon.
R. (1994). In search of the human mind. New York: Harcourt
J., and Giniger, K. (Eds.). (1998). Spiritual evolution:
Scientists discuss their beliefs. Radnor, PA: Templeton
D. (1996). The new dynamics of goal setting: Flextactics
for a fast-changing world. New York: William Morrow.