Studying reality holistically doesn't mean abandoning the Western, science-based "take-it-apart" approach and replacing it with meditation or some New Age strategy. What needs to be abandoned is the assumption that the traditional disciplines segment reality in the most useful way possible.

Fortunately, an alternative way of organizing knowledge doesn't have to be invented. It's already in place and in constant use by all of us—may, in fact, already be "hard-wired" in our brains. All we need to do is make this implicitly known system explicit and formally adopt it as the "meta-organizer" of the general education curriculum.

Educating, finally, is about understanding—making sense of experience. When we isolate some part of experience in order to describe or analyze it, we seek just five kinds of information:

  1. Its physical milieu
  2. Its location in time
  3. The identity of the participating actors or objects
  4. The nature of the action
  5. The states of mind accompanying the action.

In short, we want to know who, what, when, where, why. These five categories, not the familiar disciplines, are the optimum conceptual organizers of general study. They are the "raw material" from which we construct all thought, all language.

Our "natural" conceptual framework for organizing knowledge could be represented graphically like this:

Think of the five elements as separate disciplines, but as disciplines so interrelated they must be studied with all five being taken constantly into account.

The traditional disciplines and other specialized studies "fit inside" this mega-discipline, elaborating certain parts of it, neglecting other parts.

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