The Integration of Abilities and Learning About Learning solidified its significance through its wide-ranging and enduring influence. The core beliefs and concepts inspired a generation to incorporate its way of thinking into daily life and career development.
In these interview clips, Baylor Children's Theatre and Trinity University alumni Israel Anderson and Johnny Gutierrez explain the impact Jearnine Wagner, Paul Baker, and the philosophy of Integration of Abilities had on their lives.
These interviews were conducted for an uncoming documentary on Jearnine Wagner, Finding Your Unique Spark. The film is being directed and produced by Susie Monday and Linda Cuellar.
Envisioned by Jearnine Wagner, the Learning About Learning Foundation was a plan put into action by the core co-founders Cynthia Ridgeway Herbert, Julia Byrns Jarrell, Susie McAtee Monday, and Susan Russell Marcus.
While at Learning About Learning, Cynthia Herbert co-directed the lab school with Julia Jarrell. Herbert focused on curriculum development and created multitude of interactive books for children and guidebooks and teaching tools for adults. During the early 1980s she pursued and received her Master’s and Doctoral degrees in developmental psychology at the University of Houston, where she focused on the development in metacognition through imaginative play.
After LAL, Herbert followed Wagner to Houston and developed programs with the Houston Independent School District at the request of Superindendent Billy Reagan. The video below shows a segment on one of those programs from a KUHT public television in Houston broadcast. In conversation, Herbert expressed her disatisfaction with the way this segment portrayed the program, as it seemed to have a "white-savior" bent.
Later in her career, Herbert served as Director of Education for the Texas Alliance of Education and Arts developing curriculum plans and teacher trainings. Over time Herber began to feel disenchanted with the demands to meet standardized testing requirements. She never felt that one test could capture the true understanding, knowledge, and skills of a child. After years of working with school districts and organizations that had to teach to the tests, she re-entered partnerships with colleagues from the days of LAL.
Future/Past, Los Pastores, Lab School - Following her time at LAL, LJB Heritage NPS, Alamo College Maestros - Jarrell has been working on a manuscript for approaching program development using the creative process, to serve children, educators, parents, and communities to draw out the talents of everybody!
Monday's philosophy was to give children the tools to understand their own learning styles, nurturing their individual strengths so that each child could grow as a whole. As she once said, “At Learning about Learning, our philosophy is that all children have gifts and talents. The secret is to give a child tools of knowing how they work and learn as an individual, it’s a way of looking at children — not at their personality but at the way they create things [....] You see their individual strengths and you work from those by feeding them.”
After LAL’s closure in 1986, Monday remained dedicated to education and the arts. She worked as a writer for both the San Antonio Light and Our Kids Magazine before becoming the Director of Exhibits and Programs at the San Antonio Children's Museum from 1993 until 1998. Today, Monday is a renowned artist and teacher, continually on a personal journey of growth. As she once said, “all of us [staff at LAL] were on personal journeys and we still are.” She resides in Texas, participating in exhibitions and offering online and in-person workshops.
Marcus and the other founders created and sustained an innovative educational movement that changed the lives of children, teachers, and parents. Marcus collaborated on a number of Learning about Learning initiatives, including the “Imagination Works” program, the creation of activity kits, professional development for teachers, and books about education.
After Learning about Learning shut down in 1986, Marcus and the other co-founders continued to build upon the legacy of the program. Marcus went on to work as a museum education consultant, a children’s program designer, founder of a non-profit organization, and a co-author of multiple education books. It is evident that the core beliefs and ideas live on in Marcus’s later work, which underscores the lasting importance and contributions of Wagner and Learning about Learning.