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Learning Theories and Methodologies:

Buddhist Pedagogy, the Transformative Learning Approach of Rudolf Steiner

and other Contemporary Learning Theories

Learning  Therories and Methodologies_Abiding Heart Education.jpeg

Module details


30 October - 3 November 2024, 

6 November - 10 November 2024

& 20 November - 24 November 2024

Duration: 3 weeks

Time: 16.45 – 19.30 Nepal time 

Format: Live streaming

Lecturers: Khenpo Sonam TsewangDr Meyrav Mor and Dr Robin Bacchus

Manjushri Meditation: Khenpo Sherab Tenzin

Fee: US$400

Course description

This learning theories and methodologies course has three components: 

1.    Buddhist learning and teaching methodologies 

2.    Steinerian learning and teaching approaches

3.    Contemporary learning theories and methodologies. 

In this course we explore three main views of learning theories and methodologies, starting with the Buddha’s three-fold qualities of wisdom, compassion and action and head, heart and doing; the methodology of Buddhist view, meditation and application; and the three prajnas of hearing, contemplating and meditating. Taken together, they form a way for deepening our experience and making it more direct. Within this, we weave Steiner's transformational learning, and other contemporary learning theories, such as, John Dewey, the progressive education which encompasses experiential, integrated, and cooperative learning, and Howard Gardener’s multiple intelligences.

Who this is for?

This course will be of particular interest to those involved in teaching and teacher training (kindergarten, primary, middle school, special and inclusive education); children’s social care, child and adult welfare; children’s health care, psychology and therapy; students and researchers of the mentioned disciplines; parents; Buddhist schools around the world; Buddhist monastic schools; Buddhist centres with a children’s programme. 

About the Course

We begin by studying the scholarly Buddhist learning methodology as originally practised in the Nalanda tradition and these days in monastic Shedras. At the heart of the Buddhist learning approach are the three aspects of:

  • View (gaining conceptual understanding)

  • Meditation (gaining experiential understanding) 

  • Application (implementing knowledge gained and experienced in our everyday life).  

Interlinked with these learning approaches are the three learning stages: 

  • ground (linked with view)

  • path (related to meditation) 

  • fruition (accomplishment, which also manifests in the way we conduct ourselves).

We also explore the different teaching styles in Buddhism, that is, the Buddha style of teaching, and the the arhat and pandita styles of teaching. Understanding the Buddhist learning and teaching approach would be incomplete without studying Patrul Rinpoche’s guidance as to what makes a good teacher, and what makes a good student and we will also examine this. 

The second component of this course is the Steinerian transformational learning approach. We study in detail Steiner/Waldorf learning and teaching approaches for kindergarten and primary education. This includes Steiner’s insights into the child’s changing consciousness and how this knowledge is translated into pedagogy and used to nurture the child’s inner development. This is interlinked with Steiner’s threefold, fourfold and ninefold conceptions of the human being which are translated into a children’s pedagogy towards inner freedom. 

The third component of the course is the contemporary learning theories that have formed the progressive education approach. We begin by studying the early innovators in education, such as Pestalozzi, Rousseau and Froebel and continue exploring the different contemporary theories that influence education today. 

We continue by examining the complementary contemporary learning theories that came into being around the same time as the Steinerian approach: John Dewey, whose work forms one of the main pillars for progressive education, experiential learning, and integrated learning; Maria Montessori, who was also a contemporary of Steiner, brought innovation to early childhood learning approaches. Vygotsky, another contemporary of Steiner, looked at the zone of proximal development or the gap between what the students can do on their own, and what they can accomplish with the support of someone more knowledgeable about the activity. 
We study Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs theory which is widely referred to in education; Gregory Bateson’s levels of learning; Albert Bandura‘s social learning theory, transformative learning theory; and Stephen Sterling‘s sustainable education theory. Even though Howard Gardener’s Multiple Intelligences is not considered a learning theory, it has greatly informed education practices and we therefore include this theory. More recently, Barbara Rogoff’s learning theory focuses on the social and collaborative nature of learning and the various ways adults can guide children. We will focus on her work particularly relating to how children learn in traditional societies. Included in this section is also an overview of some of India’s holistic education approaches. Education in South Asia has also been home to education innovators, such as Krishnamurti and Gandhi. 
Once we have anchored ourselves in these three distinct learning styles (Buddhist, Steinerian and Contemporary), we focus on how the Buddhist learning and teaching styles may relate to and translate into the Steinerian learning pedagogy of early and middle childhood. Having investigated the intersections between the Buddhist and Steinerian learning methodologies and objectives, we then turn to the other contemporary learning theories and look for meeting points with the former methodologies. The Buddhist learning approach was designed for adults engaging in philosophical training. Steiner’s learning approach is aimed at educating the child towards inner freedom and his pedagogy rests on his spiritual path of inner development. Most contemporary learning approaches presented here, however progressive and wholesome they are, still rest on a materialist paradigm. This creates tension between the aim of the Buddhist path to enlightenment and the materialist view which informs most education theories and practices.


In striving to answer the question of the purpose of educating children we may arrive at three broad answers: 

  • to produce workers that can compete in the market place, and develop a specialisation in a field of work; 

  • to educate children to grow up and act to make the world a better place through learning good citizenship, being able to question, enquire and think creatively, have social and ecological consciousness and act accordingly; 

  • self-transformation towards liberation. 

Furthermore, in line with Buddhism, the intention in the manner in which we teach children in Abiding Heart Education is to nurture the development of compassion, wisdom and enlightened activities. Therefore, the aim of this course is to offer students a broader understanding of learning theories as well as to enquire into the motivation behind each learning theory – what is the aspiration and motivation of the creator in designing such a learning approach? We examine how each learning theory can support or hinder the development of the child’s consciousness towards inner freedom. 

In the last section of this engaging course, we bring together the three pedagogical streams that form the Abiding Heart Education™ experiential and transformational learning and teaching approach. This synthesis is the process of translating and interpreting the Buddhist learning methodology into children’s pedagogy through using the Steiner Waldorf transformative education approach and aspects of progressive education. Abiding Heart’s experiential Buddhist learning style can be described as a nested system that includes skills, enquiry and reflection, and self-transformation.


The practical application of Abiding Heart Learning Approach is in our teacher training courses and kindergarten to class 8 curriculum content as follow:

  • Learning to be: Experiential Buddhist Foundation studies; teacher’s inner development, view, meditation, application/conduct

  • Learning to know: Human Development from Buddhist, Steiner, developmental science, developmental psychology and developmental neuroscience perspectives; Learning theories and approaches from Buddhist, Steinerian and other contemporary theories.

  • Learning to learn: Abiding Heart Education curriculum for kindergarten and primary education (class 1-8).

  • Learning to live together: artistic disciplines, professional, organisational and social aspects of being an Abiding Heart’s experiential Buddhism teacher for children

  • Learning to do: Bringing together handwork, craft, woodwork, metal work, stone carving with awareness meditation. Also, practical competencies, such as teaching practice and practicum.

Important information: sessions will be streamed live and recordings will not be made available. Abiding Heart Education cannot refund fees and we have no cancellation policy.

Regional Teacher Trainees: please note that the Learning Theories and Methodologies course forms part of the Regional part-time kindergarten and Regional part-time primary teacher training which is offered on a donation basis. Himalayan and other regional nationals who wish to join the Learning Theories and Methodologies course will need to register for the part-time Regional training and follow the requirements for the Winter Training 2021. Please contact Admissions for more information: 

Diploma students: Please note that students intending to apply for Abiding Heart’s kindergarten or primary teacher training Diploma course in 2023 are welcome to attend but they will still have to take this course in their second semester and attendance is mandatory. 

Daily Schedule

The daily schedule consists of  recitation of the Manjushri Prayer and a short meditation, and 2 hours of lectures including discussion, with 15 minutes break in between sessions. 

Please read our Terms and Conditions for more information.

If you have any queries, please contact us at or complete an admissions inquiry form.

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