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Original Contribution, Spirals - a Living-archive

Data Collection Method

Spirals - what gave rise to Spirals, what it is about, why it was created

Spirals was developed by Joy Mounter with children in her class, in her role as a primary school teacher. Together they co-created, 'a space we could hold open for our learning and reflections: a space for reflection and reflexivity over time: a space to generate our own understandings and self-identity, giving us the energy of motivation'. Spirals is intended to help us to discover, explore and improve our selves with respect to what gives meaning and purpose to each of our lives. As a living archive it can be in a form of personal choice.  One of the oldest geometric shapes, the spiral, is fundamental in nature, design and religion'   (Mounter,2012).

One of the oldest geometric shapes the spiral is fundamental in nature, design and religion. Combining Carl Jung’s description of a spiral as a cosmic force and the sacred meaning of the spiral representing growth and the journey of life; birth, phases of life, death and (reincarnation), it is the perfect symbol for the integration of the journey of personal learning, academic learning and life learning leading to living wisdom and ultimately living phronesis (action of values).

"It is a perfect symbol for integrating the journey of personal, academic and life-learning into practical wisdom and good judgement. Spirals has become a method suitable for people of all ages wishing to pursue individual or collaborative inquiries into topics of personal interest, or more formal research," (Pound, Adlerian Research Group, 2019). 

Following is a short video clip from the Adlerian Research Group, where Joy explains what Spirals is and why it was created https://youtu.be/0ZndMWaggXQ.

Biesta (2006, p.27) discusses that education should be about, ‘individuality, subjectivity and personhood’, and not just the transmission of knowledge, skills and values. Spirals enables a place for these reflections and learning of self and self as part of the world. As the spiral represents the cosmic energy of learning and the journey of growth, ‘Spirals’ is evolving and changing, as our understandings are developing. The diagram below shows the four main sections. It also highlights the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes explored within each section. The fifth column incorporates the social context of Spirals, ‘in community’ and the difference we can make contributing to the flourishing of humanity (Whitehead, 1989). Each section is explored in more depth below.

Spirals: – My Living Archive


Dear Me                       Prism/              Living Archive            MeSearch (learn from                           Rainbow of Skills                                               experiences)                                                          

Self-awareness              Life Skills                                             Reflective Creativity Double H (Happy, Hope) Life Habits       Living Archive store          Living Wisdom  Emotional Resilience      Learning Habits  Reflection/ Wisdom      Living Phronesis 


‘In Community’ M.A.D- Make a Difference            

I ~ We ~ Us                                                                



Nurturing Responsiveness (Mounter, 2012)

Critical Friend

spirals, my living-archive

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