Thursday, July 18, 2013

SMUMN - Achieving Holonomy

Cross-Post for St. Mary's University Master's Program:

Original article: Cognitive Coaching - by Arthur Costa and Robert Garmson; Christopher-Gordon Publishing, 1994

Holonomy is a concept that essentially can be defined as the idea that someone can, and should, act as their own unique individual while at the same time participating in, and contributing to, the greater good of the group. According to Costa and Garsmton, there are five key components to a truly holonomous person - five states of mind - and all must be present. They are: flexibility, consciousness  interdependence, craftsmanship, and efficacy.  Though "consciousness" has been deemed by some as the most valuable of the five, all must be present in a a meaningful capacity for one to truly achieve holonomy. As it is not possible for one to achieve true holonomy without all five states of mind, no one state of mind is more important than the other. All must be present, and in relative balance.

In terms of what this means for our work with St. Mary's, there is a very clear overlap. On the most basic level, all of us are operating at an individual level - we have our own unique settings, skills, goals, and we are all working on bettering ourselves as individual teachers. However, in doing all of this we are not operating in an vacuum in this program. Rather, we realize that as we grow we can (we must!) contribute to the growth of our peers within the program, and even contribute to our peers outside of the program. Simply put, all of us are hoping to better our abilities as teachers - we are all working at this on an individual level regardless of our other goals - and we are all working to better the abilities of each other as teachers.

  • Efficacy - this state of mind means that you believe that your actions and your efforts will make a difference - you are in control of your situation. This applies to my teaching as I truly feel that my actions in my classroom, school, and community can and do make a difference.
  • Flexibility - this state of mind means that you have the ability to step outside yourself and examine various situations from multiple perspectives. This applies to my teaching as I often need to look at a situation from the point of view of my peers, administrators, and most importantly from the lens of my students.
  • Craftsmanship - this state of mind means that you not only take pride in the work that you do, but you are constantly trying to improve. This absolutely applies, as though I often take pride in my work I also know that my work is far from perfect and I need to continue my efforts to improve.
  • Consciousness - this state of mind refers the ability to monitor and understand what is happening internally as well as externally around you. It is important that I monitor my internal thoughts and feelings and compare those to what is going on in the classroom, and in the larger school community.
  • Interdependence - this state of mind is about giving of yourself to others, contributing the common good and relying on others to achieve group goals. In my teaching this is also key and very much applies, as no matter what student is in front of me, my job our job is to help that student achieve, as that is the common goal we all share.


  1. First off, thank you for siting your sources. Second off, what's up with such a short post. You normally give us at least 3 pages...Ryan Canton, is married life taking up more of your time.

    Although you believe in four legged tripods, I tend to side with efficacy being the most important. If you leave your students feeling they make difference, mission accomplished. Also, building efficacy requires the educator to know/model the other 3 extremely well.

    Cool thoughts!

  2. **citing, not "siting" ... :)

    Also, I think you raise a good point about efficacy as being the most important - the feeling that you can change something and make it better. However, just as the world don't run on sunshine and rainbows I don't think that belief alone that you can change things will actually change things. You really need all of them.