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Intentions shape outcomes

Intention is the starting point to arriving at any destination. There are other factors involved, of course. Intention needs to be combined with focus or commitment. Focus itself has to be turned into action; in other words, focus is given the time and attention it requires. Without focus and attention, intentions will not be realised.

However, without intention in the first place, there is no destination. The importance of intention is made clear in the difference in outcomes between the subject-based approach and the life-based approach to learning, as illustrated below.

Intention + Focus + Attention = Results

Michael Mac

The subject-based arrangement for learning has a different intention to that of life-based learning. Different intentions lead to different outcomes.

As an example of the subject-based approach to learning, the National Curriculum in England involves a hierarchy of subjects. English, mathematics and science are ‘core’ subjects, with an even greater emphasis on assessment and progress in the first two of these.

The other subjects are ‘foundation’ subjects. There are also the add-ons of PSHE, covering personal, social, health and economic education — and also environmental education.

The subject-based approach to learning, as demonstrated by the emphasis on a core of three subjects, has the main aim of preparation for the life of work.

In the life-based approach, on the other hand, there are three areas of learning and nine learning domains. All have equal priority, though equal priority does not mean spending the same amount of time on each:

  • Self: body; emotions; mind
  • Society: communication; relationships; community
  • World: plants; animals; physical

The intention of the life-based approach is to directly teach children preparation for life and to better manage the challenges of modern-day living, including preparation for work.


What are the benefits of adopting a life-based approach to learning?