Dr. Maria M. Colavito

Education Course of Study

Maria M. Colavito


(Based on Habits of Mind, by Dr. Antonio T. de Nicolas)
Students are creatures of habit, with education serving primarily as an exercise to bring out (educere) these habits. A habit is defined as a manner of behavior or technology acquired through frequent repetition to the point of transparency. As such, habits are the technological lifeline of the human body. Through these technologies the human body stretches to reach the past and the future while sensitizing itself individually. What we call the objective world is shaped by these subjective structures of human knowing, and knowledge is impossible without them. They are also the sensual life of the body, and since the body abhors a vacuum, they must be kept in exercise at all times to maintain the integrity and dynamism of the organism. New habits can always be acquired by individuals, but old habits can only be changed by other habits, and the history of education is the best reminder of the struggle for certain habits to dominate over others, especially in the arena of habits of mind.

A habit of mind is not simply a physical technique, like the use of tools. A habit of mind should provide more than the ability to use a hammer. A habit of mind becomes embodied in the subject and, once acquired, affects all the operations of the subject while affecting also the configuration of the environment. A habit of mind is an embodied technique that through repetition becomes transparent to the subject. Reading, for example, is a learned technique that becomes transparent to the subjects once they start reading. They can only read if they forget the technique while reading. Software becomes hardware through repetition, and habits of mind form cultural loops that transform the culture and the individuals using them.

As a culture, we have several such habits of mind: deductive logic, inductive logic, transcendental method, dialectical thought, the borrowing of images, the constructing of images, the forming of opinions, the skills of fantasy. Through language-its materiality, its measures, its rhythms, its repeatability, its ordering of mental life-humans extend themselves as far, wide, and deeply as language allows them through the habits they have developed. In practice, habits of mind act as detachable organs in humans, and the abuse of one against the others sometimes can create individual and social paralysis. It is only through education that these seemingly competing tendencies in both the individual and society may be balanced to achieve harmonia (harmony) rather than pandemonium (crisis).

From an educational point of view, the history of pedagogy is the history of the formation and implementation of these habits of mind. BUT HABITS OF MIND ARE NOT ONLY THE FORMING OF IDEAS; THEY INCLUDE A WHOLE RANGE OF OPERATIONS THAT ACT THROUGH THE HUMAN BODY TO THE POINT OF TOTAL TRANSPARENCY TO THE SUBJECTS USING THEM. The philosophy of education in this program then, is primarily concerned with the formation of these habits in the student before it proceeds to any other projects. It is for this reason that a core curriculum based on habits of mind has been established as the foundation of the degree program in Education. The specific methodology we specialize in is the biocultural approach to education, which emphasizes the integration of curricula with the sociobiological development of the student, thereby assuring maximum results, socially and individually.

The outline and description of courses following this introduction is designed to prepare the student majoring in primary or secondary education with the necessary skills to fulfill education requirements for teacher certification as well as for specialization in biocultural counseling in education.


(based on, The Biocultural Paradigm by Dr. M. Colavito)
The logical point of origin for a study of the habits of mind that have shaped our world must begin with two basic questions: what ARE these habits of mind that have shaped our world, and how does one acquire such habits. Unfortunately, these questions are not as easily answered as they are posited. In fact, the history of education is precisely a narrative of the attempts made by various individuals at various times, at answering these two fundamental questions. If we were, however, to get at the root of this issue, perhaps it would be best to begin our exploration with two basic influences that all individuals must face regarding the origin of our human habits: evolution (our biological predispositions), and environment (our societal directives) . In popular jargon, this complex issue is affectionately known as the Nature/Nurture controversy.

The nature/nurture controversy has been historically determined by the operatives in the hard sciences on the one hand (the nature group) and the social sciences on the other (the nurture group). The results discovered in both of these disciplines have simultaneously affected the study of the Humanities, thereby creating what has been recently described as a "crisis in education." For example, recent discoveries of the neurobiological origins of certain functions in humans, ( like the relationship between the levels of specific neurotransmitters in the brain and certain human emotions), have led many to postulate about the veracity of our time honored humanistic beliefs in such qualities as free will or individuality. Alternatively, we are being bombarded daily with research study after research study from the social sciences seemingly attesting to the exact opposite: that the victory of the human animal owes itself precisely to the environmental adaptability it possesses as an organism.

In both of these approaches, the emphasis is on one side winning over the other, while the role of education, from its inception, was precisely the art of balancing these two tendencies to discover when is nature and what to nurture and when to nurture and what is nature.

The Biocultural Paradigm is offered as a model of education that transcends both camps, by recognizing the neuro-biological origins of human development AND by delineating exactly how sociological influences and when sociological influences can and cannot affect those neurobiological invariants.

Utilizing existing discoveries in evolutionary neuro-biology and Selection Theory, the scientific basis of the Biocultural Paradigm is established. This Paradigm is composed of five proto-cultural models ("biocultures") which correspond to the five epistemological habits of mind we each possess, which correspond to the five evolutionary centers of our neurological structures; our five "brains". They are:

This is the seat of ideological habits of mind.

Each bioculture, then, is formed by the cultural manifestation of the primacy of one of these neural function over the others. While, initially, it is through individual human development that choices are made as to the primacy of certain neurological traits over others; eventually,(through the habitual repetition of the primacy of certain neurological links at the expense of others, in other words, through EDUCATION), these individual traits become societal ones; thus forming the Socio-biological basis for the Biocultural Paradigm.

The sociological evidence for the Biocultural Paradigm is founded primarily upon Socio- linguistic grounds, by analyzing the relationships between the literary remnants of certain cultures and their corresponding social, psychological and scientific structures. The literary evidence is examined as it elucidates a neural map of cortical activity (thereby offering clues as to the biocultural slant of the group), while the social, psychological and scientific systems are examined for evidence of neurological predispositions that manifest externally as cultural substitution systems. To put it simply then, all cultures are in actuality BIOCULTURES first; and all BIOCULTURES are in actuality groups of individuals sharing common habits of mind first, which, through repetition, create the culture which then creates the individuals who subsequently are born into that culture. But the entire process begins with HABITS OF MIND. So at the root, then, it is education itself which determines BOTH NATURE AND NURTURE, for ifhumans would become unaware of these biocultural influences, then they would cease to be able to change them, and if they were unable to change them, then they could truly not call themselves educated. So what is education, if not the study of our own habits of mind in an effort to harmonize and keep all of our human potentials open and exercised?

Curiously enough, the study of the history of education reveals that the ancients were well aware of the necessity of keeping alive all human action through the study of harmonizing them into a complete whole. They even had a name for the study of this harmonizing force: philosophy. Philosophy was the study of all the possibilities of human action; its goal, wisdom, was the ability to balance these acts within the self and within society. For the ancients then, education, in the form of the Liberal Arts (astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, and music), served to train the individual in recognizing the narratives of both nature and nurture, while philosophy sought to establish the acts necessary to balance the two at any given time as the situation dictated.

Following the dictates of this ancient model, each aspect of the core curriculum has its place: philosophy describes the range of human acts, both cerebral as well as physical, and even spiritual; the Humanities, especially Literature, recalls the narratives of those acts and establishes archetypical patterns of behavior for individuals and groups to emulate; psychology determines the harmonious organization of the acts and qualities of the habits of the individual, while sociology describes and organizes the societal norms. Finally, science establishes the organization of the relationships between individuals, groups of individuals and their respective substitution systems. In this manner, our core curriculum is a microcosm of the habits of mind that each individual could possess through education, while the real test of education (what determines if an individual is really educated) is not the possession of these habits, but the ability to balance them in every decision the individual makes. For this ability is what truly separates the "educated" from the "merely informed." And it is this ability that shall be the primary criterion for the successful completion of the program of education.


In keeping with the tenets of the above stated philosophy, THE BIOCULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE has devised the following core curriculum for its Education majors:

  1. Courses required of all Education majors: (35 credits)
    1. Habits of Mind: The Philosophy of Education (4 credits)
      An historical survey of the philosophy/psychology of education with special emphasis on the development of curricula.
    2. Introduction to Biocultural Science: Testing (4 credits)
      A study of the methodology of biocultural science, including basic principles of educational testing and interpretation of testing instruments.
    3. Child Development (4 credits)
      Covers the principles of human growth and development from infancy to adulthood and theories of learning influencing education practices.
    4. Introduction to Biopsychology (4 credits)
      Introduction to the major paradigms of the mind and the most recent discoveries in brain/mind research.
    5. Practicum in Teaching (4 credits)
      A survey of the methods and techniques of instruction and classroom management with practice in lesson planning and presentation.
    6. Student Teaching (15 credits)
  2. Elementary Education (in addition to all courses in part A):
    • Methods Classes: (18 credits)
    In each of the following subject areas:
    1. Language Arts (3 credits)
    2. Reading (3 credits)
    3. Mathematics (3 credits)
    4. Sciences (3 credits)
    5. The Fine Arts (3 credits)
    6. Teaching the bilingual student (3 credits)
  3. Secondary Education (in addition to all courses in part A):
    • Methods classes (18 credits)
    In each of the following areas:
    1. Reading Diagnosis and Treatment
    2. English
    3. Mathematics
    4. Social Studies
    5. Science
    6. The Fine Arts
  4. Electives in Education: (7 credits: required of every student):
    1. Education of Exceptional Children (3 credits)
      A survey of the nature and needs of children with specific learning disabilities.
    2. Theories of Learning Disabilities (4 credits)
    3. Educating the Gifted Child (3 credits)
    4. Teaching Foreign Language (4 credits)
    5. Classroom Behavior Management (3 credits)
    6. Children's Literature (3 credits)


HABITS OF MIND: The Philosophy of Education

Course Description and Objectives

This course is an historical survey of the philosophy/psychology of education with a special emphasis on the development of curricula. Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to identify the major philosophical trends in history from the ancients to the moderns with an emphasis on delineating the particular mental habits that each major thinker has contributed to the discipline.



1.1 Education Today
  • The Critics of Education
  • The Roots of Our Crisis in Education
1.2 Our Philosophical Roots
  • An Open Mind
  • The Meaning of "University"
  • The Question of Curriculum
1.3 An Alternative Philosophy of Education
  • Habits of Mind as Used, and their History
  • Our Inherited Habits
  • The Education of Habits of Mind
1.4 The Experiment
  • Requirements for Teachers and Students


2.1 The Medieval Version Of Aristotle
2.2 Modernity with Galileo, Descartes and Newton
2.3 The Narratives: Locke, Rousseau, Marquis de Sade
2.4 The Critics: Vico, Voltaire
2.5 The Contemporary Mind: Dewey, Ortega y Gasset
2.6 Returning to the Origins: Plato and the Greeks


Caw, M. The Harper Collins World Reader.N.Y. Harper. 1994. 2 vols.
Copelston,F. A History of Philosophy. N.Y. Doubleday 6 vols.
de Nicolas, A. Habits of Mind. N.Y. Paragon House 1989, Authors Choice Press 2001.
Highet,G. The Classical Tradition. Oxford. Oxford UP. 1976
Stumpf, S. Philosophy: History and Problems.N.Y. McGraw Hill. 1989



This course is a study of the methodology of biocultural science, including the basic principles of educational testing and interpretation of testing instruments. Upon successful completion of this course the student will be able to design and evaluate quantitative tests to aid in the proper placement of students.



1.1 Setting up the Null Hypothesis
1.2 Collection of Data Samples
  • Descriptive vs. Sampling Statistics
  • Statistical Inference and Random Sampling
  • Parameter-Statistic Distinctions
  • Central Tendency
  • Variability
  • Correlation
1.3 Setting a Significant Level
1.4 Computation
1.5 Analysis of Data


  • puppetry
  • parents as drama
  • guided improvisation
  • the construction of a village
  • the election of toys
  • imitating adults at play
  • the language of images
  • general criteria for art therapy
  • finger painting
  • the "house" "tree" "person" test
  • the "little man" test
  • the family drawing
  • the individuality of writing
  • natural and artificial styles, harmony and discordants
  • speed, measure, clarity, and grace
  • writing and sickness


3.1 Rorschach
3.2 Szondi
3.3 Thematic Aperception Tests
3.4 Character
  • Bell
  • California Personality
  • Berger
3.5 Intelligence
  • Binet
  • Gille Mosaic
  • De Sanctis
  • Fay
  • Goodenough
3.6 Imagination
  • Imagination and Fantasy
  • Games and Hobbies
  • Imagination and Play
  • Hopes and Aspirations
3.7 Memory
  • Making Memory Chains
  • Remembering Words
  • Remembering Images
  • Geometric Figures of Lalaume
  • Measurement
  • Attention and Interest
  • Bourdon's Curve of Tiredness
  • Attention and Concentration


Aero, Rita and Eliot Weiner, Ph.D. The Mind Test. William Morrow Co. 1981.
---------The Brain Game. QUILL.
Armstrong, Thomas. 7 Kinds of Smart.PenguinBooks,1991.
Hamstra, Bruce. How Therapists Diagnose. ST. Martins,1994.
Hunt, M. The Story of Psychology.N.Y. Anchor. 1993
Vignola, Giovanni, Los Test Psicologicos. Editorial De Vecchi, S.A. 1993.



The subject matter of this course covers the principles of human growth and development from infancy to adulthood and theories of learning influencing education practice. Students completing this course will be able to identify the major contributors to the field of child development (Freud, Piaget, Erickson, etc.) and be conversant in their comparative approaches to child development.




2.1 prenatal
2.2 birth: adjustment to environment; reflexes and sensory capacities
2.3 first two years: motor development language development
  • prelinguistic
  • linguistic
      social and personality development
  • 2.4 preschool (3-5): mental development
      effect of environment on child
    2.5 school age (6-12): physical, mental, personality, and social development
    2.6 adolescence and puberty


3.1 Reflexes in the Newborn: Babinski, Moro, Babkin
3.2 Imprinting: Lorenz,Hess, Scott, Harlow
3.3 Berkeley Growth Studies
3.4 Early Childhood Development: White, Kagan, Gesell,Cattell, Bayley, Bandura, Sears, Gibson and Walk, Hebb, Thompson,
3.5 Stage Theories: Piaget, Kohlberg, Freud, Erickson, Gesell


Brewer, Chris And Don G. Campbell. Rhythms of Learning. Zepher Press
Coles, Robert.The Spiritual Life of Children.Houghton Mifflin
Pearce, Joseph Chilton. Evolution's End. Harper Collins.1994
----------Magical Child. Harper Collins. 1986



This course shall be an introduction to the major paradigms of the mind and the most recent discoveries in brain/mind research. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to identify the major cerebral components and discuss the contributions of the major authors to brain/mind research.


PART ONE: What is Biopsychology?

  1. the biological explanations of behavior
  2. mind/body-nature/nurture
  3. animal research and human behavior


  1. the nervous system
  2. Brain divisions and their functions
  3. Endocrine System
  4. The Sensory Systems
  5. brain lateralization
  6. regulation of body states
  7. the biology of emotions: fear conditioning
  8. the biology of learning and memory
  9. psychoneuroimmunology


  1. How cultural images of mind create the science of mind in that culture
    • historical overview of maps of the mind
  2. Mind/Body Science as cultural artifacts
  3. Towards an individualized approach to biopsychology


Churchland, Patricia Smith. Neurophilosophy. MIT Press.1986.
Colavito, Maria. The Heresy of Oedipus and the Mind/Mind/Split. The Edwin Mellen Press. 1995
Gazzaniga, M. Nature's Mind. N.Y. Basic Books.
Hampden-Turner, C. Maps of the Mind. N.Y. Collier. 1976
Restack, R. The Brain. N.Y. Bantam 1984