Depending on the state and condition of each student, a counselor will draw upon a variety of techniques and teaching styles in order to draw up a unique curriculum for each student. The foundations of these different approaches are articulated here.
HELPING STUDENTS REACH THEIR POTENTIAL
How It Works
Understand Our Audience
Student needs can be grouped into five distinct categories: Spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, as well as personal integration. As we cultivate each area of a student's development, the other areas will be assisted or bolstered.
The four initial elements of a person have been created, designed, and intended to be interconnected and integrated, acting together as a single unit. Dysfunction in life can be distilled down to either a problem in one of these four areas, but then manifests as a lack of integration between the distinctive parts. Our goal is to address both.
Know Our Goal
We help to address the problems that students encounter by applying principles of truth in theory and and in application. We first assess the needs of students and discover what motivates them from within. We then make sure that students have access to the tools that can help them strengthen their spiritual, physical, intellectual and emotional selves and then provide means to help them integrate those parts of themselves within. As they integrate themselves, students naturally then seek to integrate into the changing world around them.
Our goal is to provide the conditions under which students might, if they choose, to become capable, connected, and whole; in other words, we want to help them to become the powerful actors they have been born to become so that they might, according to their desires, act upon the world for good.
Certain Rules Apply to Everyone
There are certain qualities, circumstances, and boundaries that counselors must be mindful of in order to protect and maintain the needs and resources of the institute, including current and future enrollees. These qualities include the following. These standards are applicable to the preparatory standard. The standards are as follows:
No coercing. This means no physical abuse, no intellectual abuse, and no emotional abuse.
In other words, no use of physical violence to enforce your desires. Also, there is no lying, no stealing, no bullying, no shaming, no using guilt to pillory, no belittling, and no illegal drug use. And the acceptance and reflection through behavior the idea that the purpose of sexual behavior is to best and adequately express a profound and lasting connection between two people.
These standards are a threshold on which our higher lessons are based. Without conformity and comprehension of the wisdom implicit in these standards, students who have not yet mastered them have no hope to proceed.
Sometimes these boundaries are crossed. The way we hand this is through assess whether someone displays hope or signs of change and conformity. This is seen through apology and demonstrable attempts to conform to the established standard. There may also be prescribed behaviors associated with each transgressor to help the individual more fully demonstrate to the counselor their desire to conform to the standards.
Students who demonstrate an inadequate understanding of these principles and an unwillingness to seek to understand them will be invited to withdraw from the institute.
Live By Our Own Standards
We hold ourselves to the same standards that we hold our students. The way the organization and its staff live is the greatest visual aid the students will ever have access to.
As the various needs of students are addressed and sufficiently met while respecting and honoring the stewardships of the students, their capacity to act for themselves will increase. Our job is not to change the student or impose curriculum, but to understand, recognize, offer, suggest, and empower them within the proper boundaries. At no point is it our job to coerce in any way. Our job is to discern and fulfill our distinctive and proper stewardships as facilitators, understanding the nature of students' situations and potentials, and then providing the conditions under which students might discover for themselves their own deep source of motivation, and take advantage of the knowledge and resources we make available to them.
Meeting Spiritual Needs
We directly encourage students to cultivate a connection to their purpose in life. We do this through point them to their own religious tradition, or in finding one.
In developing one's religious tradition, we are trying to help them recognize the ultimate and highest sources of joy and peace, as well as encouraging them to pursue those practices and ideals that will lead to the student's greatest personal purpose and life fulfillment.
Addressing Physical Needs
Supporting Physical Needs
We help students provide for their own financial obligations by assisting them in connecting to work opportunities. Whether connecting them to local work opportunities or offering employment through the school, we help the students grow in personal accountability and self-reliance. As the students learn to take care of their individual needs, they will grow in freedom to act independently.
Connecting to Real Opportunities
We advocate, promote, and seek to provide access for students to a network of integrated opportunities whereby they can learn through doing to pursue the various subjects they desire. This participation allows them to participate immediately as they learn and grow in their ability to function in these fields, mediums, and industries.
Bolstering Intellectual Needs
We provide ideas and principles to students to increase their ability to navigate mentally the structures and processes of the world. By increasing their comprehension of these ideas, the students gain the tools to better plan for themselves and to be more adequately adaptable to a changing world.
We do this through a class that dwells on the mechanics of what makes the world tick. In this class, we are preoccupied with the principles and interplay of truth and the ways it interacts with the world, as well as the individual student's relationship to it.
Basically the class is designed to help them distill out the truths of the world so that they can learn to apply it more fully in their lives.
Supporting Emotional Needs
Positive Mental Health
We provide means and methods to help students develop and maintain positive mental health. We provide counseling and therapy as an integrated part of our system.
We provide opportunities for students to actively cultivate curiosity and play in their daily lives. We facilitate opportunities for exploration of subjects they are naturally inclined towards and have a knack for.
We Teach The Whole Student
No need of a student is completely isolated from the others. As we address one, we address the others. In our teaching and cultivating students, we never just address one area of their development. Each area is connected to the whole; we attempt to teach the whole student.
Adapt to the Needs and Desires of the Student
We believe that each individual is born with unique desires, interests, purpose, and/or preoccupations. A student's counselor's first priority is to help the student discover and cultivate those topics, trades, interests and skills that most closely connect to and resonate with their deepest self. Our methods in discovering these priorities will depend on the ability and preparedness of the student to act for themselves, and the counselor's ability to discern what the student needs.
Sometimes this process takes time. We will devote whatever time and resources are required to help students to find an area that resonates and interests their attention.
Each student is at a different developmental place. We have a way in order to assess and adapt the use of our resources in order to provide for the immediate needs of each student. Where on this spectrum the student is will determine how the way that certain subjects are harnessed in the curriculum the counselor prescribes. Where each student falls on this spectrum is a reflection of the state that each student in in order to be prepared to independently act for themselves.
Help Students to Learn to Act for Themselves
A counselor's next goal is to assess developmental needs of each student, and to place them on a spectrum. This spectrum is a reflection of their ability to independently act for themselves.
Once the student is assessed, the counselor prescribes a curriculum.
This prescription may not seem to related directly to the desirable subjects expressed by the student, but the purpose is to provide the necessary undergirding structure with pursuit of those subjects in mind.
The four categories are as follows, in descending order:
Everyone Has Some Ability to Act For Themselves
Every student has some ability to act independently. As the student demonstrates aptitude and capacity, counselors are encouraged to make the related and relevant resources of the institute openly available to these prepared and seeking participants.
However, if the counselor senses that there are lacking elements or improvements to be made in certain areas of the student's life, the counselor's job is to assess and prescribe the necessary elements to provide for that important learning to occur.
One of the resources we offer and encourage all students to participate in is our creativity development course. This course is accessible to students of all levels of capacity and engagement, and is not restricted in any way to any interested student.
Many Students Have Been Trained to Rely On Certain Structures
Some students are accustomed to structures that imply or control the students in ways that impede the student's ability to truly act for themselves. These limitations may be in their lack of purpose or meaning, physical limitations, theoretical knowledge, or emotional struggles.
The counselor's job is to make relevant suggestions to address any and all of these needs, and then to account for each student's progress and use of these resources.
Our curriculum is designed to adequately match the previous educational systems students are accustomed to while weaning them off those ideas that undermine their potential to act for themselves.
Some Students Need More Fundamental Help With Routines and Transitions
Some times students have not received adequate exposure and opportunity to learn fundamental skills and habits. These students often struggle with issues surrounding neglect, addiction, self control, personal hygiene, and social skills. We have designed a system to assist students who lack abilities in these areas in order to help them get from where they are to where they wish to be.
Severe Neglect or Abuse Can Create Issues That Students Cannot Overcome Alone
Many students have experienced trauma or abuse that prevents them from regulating their emotions. We provide resources within our curriculum to help those who wish for it to be able to overcome deep and difficult emotional struggles.
Once the counselor has assessed the desires and goals of the student, as well as the placement of the student on the spectrum described above, the counselor will draw up a personalized curriculum for each student. Each enrollee's schedule may look a bit different, but it will be catered to the specific needs of that student.
Each student will be enrolled in an appropriate level of engagement with the relevant skill, trade, or art, determined or influenced by the desires and interests of the student. The level of participation will be directly tied to the assessment made by the counselor and accounting for the professional opinion of the master craftsperson who will instruct the student.
As the student engages in their desired art, craft, skill, or industry in conjunction with the other elements of their personalized curriculum, he or she will grow in ability and confidence. As the student demonstrates a fuller capacity to act for themselves, the curriculum will adapt to their growing abilities, and prescriptions will give way to their unique, independent, and distinctive desires.
COMMUNITY IS KEY
The network surrounding the Thirdofeight Institute is an important part of what makes it function. Each participant contributes an invaluable perspective, and each student has needs that no single person can provide.
Each contributor works with the respective gifts he or she has in order to assist those students who wish to grow.
Whether it be in helping tap imagination, demonstrating appropriate routines, coaching with transitions, or helping an individual navigate personal healing, we recognize the unique roles needed to help each unique member of our community.
MENTORS ARE A LIFELINE
At the start of their path, students are assigned a counselor who helps students find a mentor. Many mentors will play a role in their longterm development. Community members fill a role as mentors, whether teachers, counselors, or professionals.
WHATEVER IT TAKES
Whether it be in discovering one's spiritual tradition, connecting to reliable employment, exploring subjects of interest, overcoming emotional difficulties, or expanding personal skills and abilities, each student receives requisite individualized attention wherever they are at.
No matter the state of the student, through our system, we provide exactly what the student needs by way of opportunities, teaching, autonomy, counseling, therapy, or principles in order to help them discover, pursue, and become their best selves.
A HIGHER LAW: ACTING FOR YOURSELF
Empowering Students to Pursue Their Deepest Purpose
Our highest aim as an institution is to help students take a more active responsibility and role in the pursuit of the things they seek. We create and maintain an environment in which we carefully encourage them to discover and pursue those things that awaken personal curiosity and joy. We do this through encouraging careful mentoring relationships. These are wholly at the disposal and direction of the student.
Understanding the Nature of Creativity
Creativity isn't just a general or theoretical state of being, but an ability or capacity to apply oneself effectively towards solving or seeking a particular end in order to achieve a desired result. In other words, creativity is the expression of skills in pursuit of some defined purpose.
Help Them Discover Their Inclinations
When a student comes to us, we work with them to help them articulate and determine their inclinations and natural gifts. We also help them find their natural interests, skills, abilities, and subjects that they are already inclined towards, and which they are more likely to excel in.
Help Them Gain Access To Resources
We help the students get access to these topics and areas of study on the level they are currently prepared to engage in. As a student learns about the particular subjects in greater detail, the mentor has the role of keeping track of the student's progress. He helps the student by assessing the student's progress. The mentor also keeps in touch with the teachers in order to maintain awareness of the progress of the student. In this way, the teachers and mentors can remain aware of the needs of the student without imposing arbitrary rules, standards, and regulations on the student. They let the student develop and be motivated at their own pace. And if the student loses interest in the subject, the mentor can help the student find a new subject to pursue. Or perhaps the student needs to return to the basics in exploring the foundations of what makes them tick
PREPARATORY TRAINING: ACTING FOR ONESELF WITH GUIDANCE
Meeting Students Where They Are At
Some students are young and/or are accustomed to training structures where they are accustomed to being told what to do. We may assign these kids a handful of structured classes they are invited to attend. This preparatory structure will help them become more accustomed to taking control of decisions that in the best case scenario, are theirs to make.
Counselor Assigned to Each Student
Upon enrollment, each student is assigned a counselor. This counselor's primary jobs are to assess the student and set each one on the best path possible in order for them to discover what classes line up with their purpose and related passions. The other role to help each student secure a good match of a mentor through directly building relationships and facilitating discussions with students.
Helping Students Explore Individual Interests
Based on the work of well-known psychologist Carl Jung, we use the Myers-Briggs personality typing system in order to help us discern and approximate the likely interests of students. While not the only source of insight, this system can help counselors approximate potentially unknown interests of students in a very helpful way.
We also discuss past and potential interests students might recall or desire in order to help us determine the most potent subjects available to help awaken the inherent motivation in the student.
Students are given the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of different mediums, industries, arts, mediums, and processes. Depending on the assessments of their counselor, students might be grouped with other similarly motivated students in order to more efficiently spend time in pursuit of their potentially respective interests.
As a part of these discovery experiences, students might be enlisted in class projects that help them to further explore the field of study on a scale catered to their abilities and knowledge. This may include field trips to help illuminate the minds of students and provide insights as to exactly what each industry might be like on the inside.
We also hold recurring immersive creative experiences with the goal of awakening curiosity and wonder through imagination, whilst probing the depths of the desires of the students. The experiences and environments are meant to inspire latent motivation within the student, and help them consider what awakens them from within.
Individual Religious Training
Students are encouraged to enroll in formal training in their unique religious tradition. The purpose in this is to cultivate the pursuit of the "why" of life, and to help inspire change in the hearts of the students, and incline them more towards the most joyful and meaningful ends that life has to offer.
Principles and Patterns Class
This class follows the typical classroom structure of desks and a teacher. It covers on a repeating schedule the principles of reality and truth that undergird and animate all things. The manual can be downloaded here.
We connect students to employment resources at our disposal. These might include apprenticeships with working professionals, temporary employment agencies, or smart phone applications like Bacon.
Incorporating Integrative Experiences
Immersive Creative Experiences
We host a variety of events, gatherings, and venues that serve the purpose to provide context for students to apply and integrate the knowledge they have been learning.
These experiences are staffed by mentors, counselors, teachers, and staff, as well as local professionals in the fields represented in the events. They are also filled with students who have progressed in their study of certain topics in order to begin interfacing with the public through selling products they have created.
Music Lessons and Ensembles
Each student is encouraged to choose and instrument and to take lessons. As a part of these lessons, each student will be encouraged to participate in group ensembles where they will learn to cooperate with others.
Mentor Matching and Measuring
Cultivating A Wide Pool of Mentors
Counselors also encouraged to foster relationships with professions in a variety of fields in order to utilize them for student mentorships. They are also encouraged to get to know the teachers and staff in order to incorporate as many valued mentors as possible.
Parameters on Students Managed By Mentors
Counselors keep track of the relationships, and inquire individually with each mentor to keep track of the progress and development of each student. Motivation, engagement, reliability, work ethic, comprehension are all parameters discussed and reported on by the mentors to the counselors.
ESTABLISHING PERSONAL PATTERNS: BEGINNING TO LEARN TO ACT FOR YOURSELF
Sometimes students struggle to be able act independently in the day to day world. This might be due to a lack of structure or skills. It also may have to do with the the lack of healthy intra or interpersonal skills. In order to help students reach their potential, counselors may prescribe our system where we help students identify and develop the necessary life-skill abilities that will allow them to develop those skills that provide a foundation on which they will later be able to reach their fullest state of being.
We seek to move students from the isolation of strict ideas and theoretical principles to a world of practicality, functionality, application, and relevance.
Ideas are only as good as they look when manifest in the real world. We seek to help students test their theoretical knowledge in the light of application. We do this by helping them establish practical and workable routines that are designed to assist them in the achievement of the goals they have set out for themselves.
Often this takes the shape of routines that teach self-reliance, whether spiritual, physical, intellectual, or emotional. We advocate means of integrating oneself into society without undermining the individual's self-directed and self-fulfilling purpose, identity, motivation, or independence.
Assess the Student's Objectives
When we meet with the student initially, we help them establish a standard for what it is they wish to become. Sometimes the student already has an idea of some of what they wish to develop or change about themselves. We help them articulate and expand on this in a way that helps both them and us to better wrap our heads around exactly what our assistance might look like.
We then prescribe a varied curricular approach that includes both theory and application. Trainings, classes, and performance oriented experiences all conspire to help the student find the tools to fulfill their goals.
Establishing Valuable Routines
Trainings fall within four categories: Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, and Emotional.
"Spiritual" trainings are based around those activities that cultivate positive spiritual habits to help clarify and align the governing motivations within the student. The routines or behaviors we teach are designed to help them question, recognize, and cultivate their inner motivations so that they might find reliable inner strength and purpose, and therefore greater self-respect, love, and peace.
Physical trainings include everything from exercise to employment to hygiene to cooking to personal style to caring for one's personal space. We help students build habits that are woven into the social fabric in order to help them feel more integrated and normalized to the culture they wish to be a part of. While each culture does things a little differently, we try to adapt these routines to the local customs, always taking into account the desires established in the beginning by the student.
Intellectual trainings take on the appearance of a class in which students learn the fundamental principles of life and everything. We hold a class discussing these ideas once a week for an hour and a half. They are described in greater detail below under the heading, "Principles and Patterns Discussions."
Emotional trainings might take on the look of moral support and appear as surrogacies of sorts for those who have lacked certain positive role models in their development. Surrogate fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters are the most common moral support structure we provide.
Helping With Transitions
We not only help students with establishing positive routines, but we assist them by helping them recognize what to expect through the many transitions that might occur as they make these changes. We also help them by assisting them when necessary through difficult life transitions they might experience. Helping establish realistic and predictable expectations surrounding transitions helps them to adjust to these changes and maintain the positive characteristics and results of the new routines they are seeking to integrate.
TRAUMA RECOVERY: OVERCOMING UNHEALTHY PATTERNS OF BEING ACTED UPON
Sometimes self-actualization is impeded by difficult or traumatic experiences that cloud our judgment and block our feelings. This prevents us from being able to act for ourselves. In order to allow our creativity to flow, we may need extra help to overcome these difficulties.
We believe that we are all children of God who are individually infinitely valuable. We teach that as such, each divine child is a creator after the pattern of the One who created us.
Trauma can convince us of a variety of false beliefs that get in the way of this truth, and require special help in overcoming. Much like a massage therapist working on knots in our body, we seek to help individuals dislodge false ideas that have calcified within us, and then help them learn how to prevent them again from forming. As we root out the embodied trauma and work within ourselves to prevent the causes, we can find personal power and peace.
Our program provides self-help and one-on-one counseling sessions centered around practicing good mental habits, healing emotional wounds, teaching the fundamental principles of choice, accountability, and stewardship, and how applying these reinforces a default state of inner peace.
Where needed, we may make recommendations to individuals to seek professional help. While we have resources that can provide considerable assistance, some cases may be beyond our abilities and means.
AN INTEGRATIVE APPROACH TO LEARNING TO ACT INDEPENDENTLY
CREATIVITY THROUGH STORYTELLING
At the Thirdofeight Institute for Creativity, we see the ultimate state of self-actualization as being in a state of capable creativity. We are more prepared to act on our desires as we expand our awareness of various creative methods, industries, and processes.
We see creativity itself as story-making on the most fundamental level. We train students to use the lens of story in divining and developing their unique and original ideas. We find that narrative provides an intuitive and relatable framework within which all students can thrive. That's because each student has experiences and is living a life of their own.
We simply point each student to their individual experiences and encourage them to attempt to reflect that story into their own creations. In this way, no two stories are the same, and each student will be overflowing with subject matter and personal relevance. This is how we help students find their own identity and creative voice, all in a supportive and inspiring environment of truth and light.
In the beginning, each student is sorted into one of three groups distinguished by an assessment of the student's strongest personal story-making inclinations. Students are by no means limited by this construct, but it's a way to hasten initial participation and success by beginning with what they are best at or most inclined to pursue.
Students will be put into one of three groups: performance artists, crafts people, or world builders.
Performing artists tend to be occupied with the internal feeling or expression of the immediacy of the moment. Dancers, actors, and musicians fall into this category. These story makers are drawn to express their creativity through the feeling within the moment. They often rely on live audiences and incorporate their bodies in the expression of the feelings they seek to convey.
Crafts people often are preoccupied with the externalization and contextualization of story through objects, spaces, or environments. These are usually expressed outside of and beyond the physical body. Set design, costume creation, wood working, handicrafts, and prop creation all would be subcategories of this group.
Authors, stage directors, film producers and directors, and dungeon masters would fall within a category of creativity that could encompass performing artists and craftsmen, but also incorporates a broader scope of a larger macro narrative; rather than preoccupying oneself with the nitty gritty of an individual character motivations or the look of a space, these creators are primarily drawn to the widest and grandest scope and scale of story. They deal with themes and overarching messages by trafficking in laws and principles and fundamentals of the world.
Once a student and mentor determine a student's dominant medium of story creation, he or she is invited to enroll in one of our exploratory classes. Each class is designed to explore and expand the student's existing capacities and to provide them with knowledge of other similar mediums that they might be good at, but due to ignorance or lack of experience may have never had the chance to explore thus far in their lives.
Once a student gets perspective on the types and forms his stories might take, and he determines where he'd like to begin to invest his time, the mentor will help the student connect to a specialist in that field. Students will then be enrolled in the appropriate lessons.
We currently offer a variety of specialized skills, classes and lessons listed here.
Each of these hands-on classes can last anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours in length, and generally happen once a week. Length and frequency depend largely on the subject, the number of students attending per class, and the current level of expertise of those participants.
Field trips and other applied learning experiences are an integral part of learning to tell good stories, and we incorporate them often.
On certain occasions, special experiences, skills, and/or tools may require costs in addition to the price of general enrollment. Specialized shoes, clothing, musical instruments, uncommon construction materials, and ticketed access are some examples of these extra financial requirements. In this event, costs will be made clear to parents and students before students engage in the particular activity.
Principles and Patterns Discussions
Each Wednesday we devote one meeting for an hour and a half to discuss the foundational principles of the nature of the world. These are the principles which define us and govern all processes. They are the principles upon which our instruction on creativity is based. A deeper understanding of these principles will assist students in comprehending and gaining competence in their goals or objective.
These virtual classes are more like open discussions where students can learn at their own speed from a mentor who adapts the ideas to the level of understanding of the group. These principles are listed and explained in detail, and can be read and studied ahead of time in our manual, which can be downloaded here.
Once a week when appropriate, we may hold informal video conference calls for each specific area of study and preoccupation. They are typically on Sundays, and are made up of both students and mentors. After introductions, it becomes an open forum where participants can ask questions, make specific requests, volunteer information and resources, and/or just seek guidance from their peers.
We also hold in-person gatherings with the same purpose in mind.
Immersive Creativity Experiences
Each semester, we provide opportunities for developing students to be able to share and engage with the public in order to get feedback and perspective on the skills they are developing. This environment takes on the look of a story-based fantasy marketplace.