Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

P. Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Paul Michalec

Third Advisor

Sarah Pessin

Fourth Advisor

Martin Tombari

Fifth Advisor

Janette Klinger


Character education, Freedom, Krishnamurti, Love, Self-awareness, Well-being


The purpose of this dissertation is to consider the role of well-being in schooling. Recent advances in the fields of psychology, psychiatry, and medicine have led to a reexamination of the role of well-being in society. There is a growing body of educational theory on the subject of well-being in schools that draws on these advances (Cohen, 2006; Noddings, 2003, 2006; Ruyter, 2004; Spring, 2007). The few serious treatments on the role of well-being in education consider it from a theoretical perspective. Few if any empirical research studies in the fields of Curriculum or Educational Psychology have been conducted that explore well-being in schools. This dissertation will use the Science of Well-Being (C. R. Cloninger, 2004), an emerging theory unifying many fields of science, to take a new look at alternative education to explore how schools can attend to the well-being of children and society. Specifically, this dissertation will investigate Krishnamurti Education using an arts-based qualitative research method: Educational Criticism and Connoisseurship (Eisner, 1998).

I conducted research for roughly one month each at two Krishnamurti schools: the Oak Grove School in Ojai, California, and Brockwood Park in Hampshire, England. I made long-term observations of 9 teachers at these two schools. All told, this dissertation draws from 150 hours of observations and interviews with parents, teachers, administrators, and former students. By studying these two schools, I answer the following research questions: 1) How is well-being related to schooling? 2) In two schools dedicated to the ideas of well-being and self-awareness, what specific strategies and pedagogies are used to help students cultivate self-awareness and well-being? 3) What is the significance of theories and practices aimed at increasing well-being for public schools in general?

In an attempt to compare the educational approaches of the two schools, five underlying principles or dimensions emerged, which both schools share. These five dimensions are: 1) Safety, Security, and Trust, 2) Order, Structure, and Activity, 3) Care, Affection, and Attention, 4) Intellect, Reasoning, and Meaning, and 5) The Sacred, Spirituality, and Religiosity. These five dimensions of schooling are essential to consider in the development of well-being. Krishnamurti schools, by attending to all of these dimensions, seek to reinvigorate communities of learning. Instead of relying exclusively on techniques, ideology, and methods, they seek to create relationships within a community.

The three themes that emerged from this study inform this dimensional framework by helping us to see how well-being can be encouraged in each of these five dimensions. The three themes of love, freedom, and awareness emerged from the observations and interviews; they also appear frequently in Krishnamurti's writings and correspond with research from the Science of Well-Being on the practices that lead to greater well-being and the development of character. The implications of this research for public education and teacher education are explored.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Kevin M. Cloninger


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

462 p.


Curriculum development