Soil Salinization

With rainfed crops, salinization is not a problem because the salts are naturally flushed away. But when irrigation water is applied to crops and returns to the atmosphere via plant transpiration and evaporation, dissolved salts concentrate in the soil where they inhibit plant growth. The practice of applying about 10 million liters of irrigation water per hectare each year, results in approximately 5 t/ha of salts being added to the soil. The salt deposits can be flushed away with added fresh water but at a significant cost. Worldwide, approximately half of all existing irrigated soils are adversely affected by salinization. Each year the amount of world agricultural land destroyed by salinized soil is estimated to be 10 million hectares.

Drainage Water

In addition, drainage water from irrigated cropland contains large quantities of salt. For instance, as the Colorado River flows through Grand Valley, Colorado, it picks up 580,000 tons of salts per year. Based on the drainage area of 20,000 ha, the water returned to the Colorado River contains an estimated 30 t/ha of salts per year. In Arizona, the Salt River and Colorado River deliver a total of 1.6 million tons of salt into south-central Arizona each year.


Waterlogging is another problem associated with irrigation. Over time, seepage from irrigation canals and irrigated fields cause water to accumulate in the upper soil levels. Due to water losses during pumping and transport, approximately 60% of the water intended for crop irrigation never reaches the crop (Wallace, 2000). In the absence of adequate drainage, water tables rise in the upper soil levels, including the plant root zone, and crop growth is impaired. Such irrigated fields are sometimes referred to as “wet deserts” because they are rendered unproductive. For example in India, waterlogging adversely affects 8.5 million hectares of cropland and results in the loss of as much as 2 million tons of grain every year. To prevent both salinization and waterlogging, sufficient water along with adequate soil drainage must be available to ensure salts and excess water are drained from the soil.

Water Loss

Because more than 99% of world food supply comes from the land, an adequate world food supply depends on the continued availability of productive soils. Erosion adversely affects crop productivity by reducing the availability of water, diminishing soil nutrients, soil biota, and soil organic matter, and also decreasing soil depth. The reduction in the amount of water available to the growing plants is considered the most harmful effect of erosion, because eroded soil absorbs 87% less water by infiltration than uneroded soils. Soybean and oat plantings intercept approximately 10% of the rainfall, whereas tree canopies intercept 15% to 35%. Thus, deforestation increases water runoff and reduces water availability.

Water Runoff Rate Compared to Rainfall Rate

A water runoff rate of about 30% of total rainfall of 800 mm/yr causes significant water shortages for growing crops, like corn, and ultimately lowering crop yields. In addition, water runoff, which carries sediments, nutrients, and pesticides from agricultural fields, into surface and ground waters, is the leading cause of non-point source pollution in the U.S. Thus, soil erosion is a self-degrading cycle on agricultural land. As erosion removes topsoil and organic matter, water runoff is intensified and crop yields decrease. The cycle is repeated again with even greater intensity during subsequent rains.

Soil Organic

Increasing soil organic matter by applying manure or similar materials can improve the water infiltration rate by as much as 150%. In addition, using vegetative cover, such as inter-cropping and grass strips, helps slow both water runoff and erosion. For example, when silage corn is inter-planted with red clover, water runoff can be reduced by as much as 87% and soil loss can be reduced by 78%. Reducing water runoff in these and other ways is an important step in increasing water availability to crops, conserving water resources, decreasing non-point source pollution, and ultimately decreasing water shortages.


Planting trees to serve as shelter belts between fields reduces evaporate transpiration from the crop ecosystem by up to 20% during the growing season, thereby reducing non-point source pollution, and increases some crop yields, such as potatoes and peanuts. If soil and water conservation measures are not implemented, the loss of water for crops via soil erosion can amount to as much as 5 million liters per hectare per year.

Water Use Livestock Production

The production of animal protein requires significantly more water than the production of plant protein. Although U.S. livestock directly use only 2% of the total water used in agriculture, the water inputs for livestock production are substantial because water is required for the forage and grain crops.

US livestock to Worldwide

Each year the total of 253 million tons of grain are fed to U.S. livestock requiring a total of about 250 x 1012 liters of water. Worldwide grain production specifically for livestock requires nearly 3 times the amount of grain that is fed U.S. livestock and 3 times the amount of water used in the U.S. to produce the grain feed.

Animal Products

Animal products vary in the amounts of water required for their production. For example, producing 1 kg of chicken requires 3,500 liters of water while producing 1 kg of sheep requires approximately 51,000 liters of water in order to produce the required 21 kg of grain and 30 kg of forage to feed these animals. For open rang-eland, from 120 kg to 200 kg of forage are required to produce 1 kg of beef. This amount of forage requires 120,000 liters to 200,000 liters of water per kilogram of beef. Beef cattle can be produced on rang-eland, but a minimum of 200 mm per year of rainfall are needed.

Agricultural Production

U.S. agricultural production is projected to expand in order to meet the increased food needs of a U.S. population that is projected to double in the next 70 years. The food situation is expected to be more serious in developing countries, such as Egypt and Kenya, because of rapidly growing populations. Increasing crop yields necessitates a parallel increase in freshwater utilization in agriculture. Therefore, increased crop and livestock production during the next 5 to 7 decades will significantly increase the demand on all water resources, especially in the western, southern, and central United States, as well as in many regions of the world with low rainfall.


Water from different resources is withdrawn both for use and consumption in diverse human activities. The term use refers to all human activities for which some of the withdrawn water is returned for reuse, e.g., cooking water, wash water, and waste water. In contrast, consumption means that the withdrawn water is non-recoverable. For example, transportation of water from plants is released into the atmosphere and is considered non-recoverable.

Human Water Usage

The water content of living organisms ranges from 60% to 95%; humans are about 60% water. To sustain health, humans should drink from 1.5 to 2.5 liters of water/person/day. In addition to drinking water, Americans use about 400 liters water/person/day for cooking, washing, disposing of wastes, and other personal uses. Compare this amount to the 83 other countries that report an average below 100 liters/person/day of water for personal use.

In the US to The World

Currently the U.S. freshwater withdrawals, including that from irrigation, total about 1,600 billion liters/day or about 5,700 liters of water/person/day. Of this amount about 80% comes from surface water and 20% is withdrawn from groundwater resources. Worldwide, the average withdrawal is 1,970 liters/person/day for all purposes. Approximately 70% of the water withdrawn is consumed and is non-recoverable worldwide.


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Water in Crop Production

Plants require water for photosynthesis, growth, and reproduction. Water used by plants is non-recoverable, because some water becomes a part of the plant chemically and remainder is released into the atmosphere. The processes of carbon dioxide fixation and temperature control require plants to transpire enormous amounts of water. Various crops transpire water at rates between 600 to 2000 liters of water per kilogram of dry matter of crops produced. The average global transfer of water into the atmosphere from the terrestrial ecosystems by vegetation transpiration is estimated to be about 64% of all precipitation that falls to Earth.


The minimum soil moisture essential for crop growth varies. For instance, U.S. potatoes require 25% to 50%, alfalfa 30% to 50%, and corn 50% to 70%, while rice in China is reported to require at least 80% soil moisture. Rainfall patterns, temperature, vegetative cover, high levels of soil organic matter, active soil bio ta, and water runoff all effect the percolation of rainfall into the soil where it will be used by plants.

Water Required

The water required by food and forage crops ranges from 600 to 3,000 liters of water per kilogram (dry) of crop yield. For instance, a hectare of U.S. corn, with a yield of approximately 9,000 kg/ha, transpires about 6 million liters per hectare of water during the growing season, while an additional 1 to 2.5 million liters/ha of soil moisture evaporate into the atmosphere. This means that about 800 mm (8 million liters/ha) of rainfall are required during the growing season for corn production. Even with 800 to 1,000 mm of annual rainfall in the U.S. Corn-Belt region, corn frequently suffers from insufficient water during the critical summer growing period.

Hectares’s Required Water

A hectare of high yielding rice requires approximately 11 million liters/ha of water for an average yield of 7 t/ha (metric tons per hectare) (Snyder, 2000). On average, soybeans require about 5.8 million liters/ha of water for a yield of 3 t/ha. In contrast, wheat that produces less plant biomass than either corn or rice, requires only about 2.4 million liters/ha of water for a yield of 2.7 t/ha. Note, under semi-arid conditions, yields of non-irrigated crops, such as corn, are low (1 to 2.5 t/ha) even when ample amounts of fertilizers are applied.

Irrigated Crop

World agriculture consumes approximately 70% of freshwater withdrawn per year. Approximately 17% of the world’s cropland is irrigated but produces 40% of the world’s food. Worldwide, the amount of irrigated land is slowly expanding, even though initialization, water logging, and situation continue to decrease its productivity. Despite a small annual increase in total irrigated areas, the per capital irrigated area has been declining since 1990, due to rapid population growth. Specifically, global irrigation per capital has declined nearly 10% during the past decade, while in the U.S. irrigated land per capital has remained constant at about 0.08 ha.

Irrigated Crop in The US

Irrigated U.S. agricultural production accounts for about 40% of freshwater withdrawn, and more than 80% of the water consumed. California agriculture accounts for 3% of the state’s economic production, but consumes 85% of the water withdrawn.

Energy Use in Irrigation

Irrigation requires a significant expenditure of fossil energy both for pumping and delivering water to crops. Annually in the U.S., we estimate that 15% of the total energy expended for all crop production is used to pump irrigation water. Overall the amount of energy consumed in irrigated crop production is substantially greater than that expended for rained crops. For example, irrigated wheat requires the expenditure of more than 3 times more energy than rainfed wheat. Specifically, about 4.2 million kcal/ha/yr are the required energy input for rained wheat.On the other hand, irrigated wheat requires 14.3 million kcal/ha/yr to apply an average of 5.5 million liters of water.


Delivering the 10 million liters of irrigation water needed by a hectare of irrigated corn from surface water sources. It requires the expenditure of about 880 kWh/ha of fossil fuel. In contrast, irrigation water must be pumped from a depth of 100 m. It leads to the energy cost increases up to 28,500 kWh/ha. In other word, it is more than 32 times the cost of surface water.

Cost of Irrigation

The costs of irrigation for energy and capital are significant. The average cost to develop irrigated land ranges from $3,800/ha to $7,700/ha. Thus, farmers must not only evaluate the dollar cost of developing irrigated land. Moreover, they must also consider the annual costs of irrigation pumping. For example, delivering 7 to 10 million liters/ha of water costs from $750 to $1,000. About 150,000 ha of agricultural land have already been abandoned in the U.S. due to high pumping costs.

The Large Quantity

The large quantities of energy required to pump irrigation water are significant considerations. The causes both from the standpoint of energy and water resource management. For example, approximately 8 million kcal of fossil energy are expended. It is all for machinery, fuel, fertilizers, pesticides, and partial (15%) irrigation. This figure also to produce one hectare of rained U.S. corn. In contrast, if the corn crop were fully irrigated, the total energy inputs would rise to nearly 25 million kcal/ha (2,500 liters of oil equivalents). In the future, this energy dependency will influence the overall economics of irrigated crops. Similarly, they will also be the selection of specific crops worth irrigating. While a low value crop, like alfalfa, may be uneconomical, other crops might use less water plus have a higher market value.

The Efficiency Varies

The efficiency varies with irrigation technologies. The most common irrigation methods, flood irrigation and sprinkler irrigation, frequently waste water. In contrast, the use of more focused application methods. For instance, such as “drip” or “micro-irrigation” have found favor because of their increased water efficiency. Drip irrigation delivers water to individual plants by plastic tubes and uses from 30% to 50% less water than surface irrigation. In addition to conserving water, drip irrigation reduces the problems of initialization and water-logging. Although drip systems achieve up to 95% water efficiency, they are expensive. Moreover, they may be energy intensive, and require clean water to prevent the clogging of the fine delivery tubes.

Hydro-logic Cycle

Of the estimated 1.4 x 10 18 m 3 of water on the Earth, more than 97% is in the oceans. Approximately 35 x 1015 m3 of the Earth’s water is freshwater, of which about 0.3% is held in rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. The remainder of freshwater is stored in glaciers, permanent snow, and groundwater aquifers. The earth’s atmosphere contains about 13 x 1012 m 3 of water, and is the source of all the rain that falls on earth.

Quantity of Evaporation

Yearly, about 151,000 quads (quad = 1015 BTU) of solar energy cause evaporation and move about 577 x 1012 m3 of water from the earth’s surface into the atmosphere. Of this evaporation, 86% is from oceans. Although only 14% of the water evaporation is from land, about 20% (115 x 1012 m3 per year) of the world’s precipitation falls on land with the surplus water returning to the oceans via rivers. Thus, each year solar energy transfers a significant portion of water from oceans to land areas. This aspect of the hydro-logic cycle is vital not only to agriculture but also to human life and natural ecosystems.

Availability of Water

Although water is considered a renewable resource because it depends on rainfall, its availability is finite in terms of the amount available per unit time in any one region. The average precipitation for most continents is about 700 mm/yr (7 million liters/ha/yr), but varies among and within them. In general, a nation is considered water scarce when the availability of water drops below 1,000,000 liters/capita/yr. Thus Africa, despite having an average of 640 mm/yr of rainfall, is relatively arid since its high temperatures and winds that foster rapid evaporation.

Region Effects

Regions that receive low rainfall (less than 500 mm/yr), experience serious water shortages and inadequate crop yields. For example, 9 of the 14 Middle Eastern countries (including Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia) have insufficient rainfall.

Other Sources

Substantial withdrawals from lakes, rivers, groundwater, and reservoirs used to meet the needs of individuals, cities, farms, and industries already stresses the availability of water in some parts of the U.S. When managing water resources, the total agricultural, societal, and environmental system must be considered. Legislation is sometimes required to ensure a fair allocation of water. For example, laws determine the amount of water that must be left in the Pecos River in New Mexico to ensure sufficient water flows into Texas.

Ground Water Resources

Approximately 30% (11 x 1015 m 3) of all freshwater on Earth is stored as groundwater. The amount of water held as groundwater is more than 100 times the amount collected in rivers and lakes. Most groundwater has accumulated over millions of years in vast aquifers located below the surface of the earth. Aquifers are replenished slowly by rainfall, with an average recharge rate that ranges from 0.1% to 3% per year. Assuming an average of 1% recharge rate, only 110 x 1012 m3 of water per year are available for sustainable use worldwide. At present, world groundwater aquifers provide approximately 23% of all water used throughout the world. Irrigation for U.S. agriculture relies heavily upon groundwater, with 65% of irrigation water being pumped from aquifers.

The Amount

Population growth, increased irrigated agriculture, and other water uses are mining groundwater resources. Specifically, the uncontrolled rate of water withdrawal from aquifers is significantly faster than the natural rate of recharge, causing water tables to fall by more than 30 m in some U.S. regions. The overdraft of global groundwater is estimated to be about 200 x 10 9 m 3 or nearly twice the average recharge rate. For example, the capacity of the U.S. Ogallala aquifer, which underlies parts of Nebraska, S. Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas, has decreased 33% since about 1950. Withdrawal from the Ogalla is 3 times faster than its recharge rate. Aquifers are being withdrawn more than 10 times faster than the recharge rate aquifers in parts of Arizona.


Similar Problems

Similar problems exist throughout the world. For example, in the agriculturally productive Chenaran Plain in northeastern Iran, the water table has been declining by 2.8 m/year since the late 1990s. Withdrawal in Guanajuato, Mexico, have caused the water table to fall by as much as 3.3 m per year. The rapid depletion of groundwater poses a serious threat to water supplies in world agricultural regions especially for irrigation. Furthermore, when aquifers are mined, the surface soil area is prone to collapse, resulting in an aquifer that cannot be refilled.

Stored Water Resources

In the U.S., many dams were built during the early 20th century in arid regions in an effort to increase the available quantities of water. Although the era of constructing large dams and associated conveyance systems to meet water demand has slowed down in the U.S, dam construction continues in many developing countries worldwide.

The Future

Given that the expected life of a dam is 50 years, 85% of U.S. dams will be more than 50 years old by 2020. Prospects for the construction of new dams in the U.S. do not appear encouraging. Over time, the capacity of all dams is reduced as silt accumulates behind them. Estimates are that 1% of the storage capacity of the world’s dams is lost due to silt each year.


We conducted classroom observations from October to April, observing a total of 55 classes one or two times each. In addition, we observed lunchrooms and hallways at two sites. These observations lasted between 30 and 90 minutes, for a total of about 73 hours of observation data collected. We followed a non intrusive, hands-­off, eyes-­on approach and generally did not participate in classroom activities. We took field notes during observations to describe the classroom environment; classroom procedures; the teachers’ instruction; learning activities; materials used; and interactive patterns among students and between students and teachers.

Part of Research

Moreover, we also took note of interactions between teachers, since teachers co-­taught some of the integrated classes common in the NT model. We wrote as much as possible of what we saw and heard during observations and included some of our own reflections or interpretations as memos written during or shortly after observations. We also met weekly to share our notes and memos so that all team members had a more complete view of what was happening at each school.


We conducted formal interviews with 16 teachers and 7 directors (i.e., principals). We recruited teachers for interviews through snowball sampling, whereby we asked directors to provide the names of two or three teachers they thought should be interviewed. Directors did not always suggest teachers they expected to say complimentary things about the model or who were implementing the model with high fidelity.

More Data

Instead, most were interested in learning from teachers they believed had not bought into the model or were not implementing the model fully. Because the data was collected in the context of an evaluation, the directors had an interest in learning how they might modify their practice and/or provide further supports and professional development to better meet teachers’ implementation needs.

How we do it?

We then invited the teacher’s directors recommended to participate in an interview, although not all consented. Therefore, the directors did not know exactly who participated among those they suggested. Next, we asked all the teachers that the directors had recommended for an interview to provide the names of additional teachers they thought we should speak with in order to gain an understanding of implementation at that school. The teachers who participated in interviews represented a sample of different content areas: two science teachers, five English teachers, four mathematics teachers, three modern languages teachers, and two business teachers. Almost half of the teachers we interviewed were mathematics or modern languages teachers, which was the result of a focused recruitment effort in response to specific partner needs as described above.

The Number

The number of interviews conducted was also limited by the time frame and budget for the evaluation. We interviewed two to three teachers from each school over the phone or at school. Each interview lasted approximately 30 to 45 minutes, for a total of about 10 hours of interview data. We followed a semi-structured protocol that enabled the evaluation team to compare similarities and differences between stakeholder expectations of the NT model and their experiences in it. Sample interview items included “Describe teacher collaboration at your school” and “Describe the leadership structure at your school.” We audio-­recorded the interviews and transcribed them verbatim.


In order to analyze the data that we had collected for the New Tech implementation evaluation, we gathered all of the data documents, including observation field notes and interview transcripts. We read through all of these in order to obtain an overall understanding of what we had collected. After this preliminary reading, we reviewed the Degrees of Democracy Framework and began creating a list of possible codes, including the code examples.

More Analysis

Next, we utilized the NVivo data analysis software program to assign specific codes to data excerpts within the observation field notes and interview transcripts. After completing initial coding, we pulled the data we assigned to each code, and read through it, comparing the data to the descriptions of holistic democracy embedded in the Degrees of Democracy Framework. Once this reading was complete, we recorded some data in order to refine our analysis.


To check the validity of our analysis, we shared the analysis documents with the evaluation team members for peer editing because they were most familiar with the NT model, the data collection methods, the school sites, and the participants. We also shared my analysis with Philip Woods, one of the authors of the Degrees of Democracy Framework, for peer editing.


The eight NT high schools included in this study represent a convenience sample, as they were all implementing the NT model in the state where the evaluation was conducted. The schools were at different stages of implementation, however, because the model had typically been implemented one grade level at a time, starting with the 9th grade and adding another grade level each year. As such, at the time of this study, three schools had implemented the model in grades 9 through 12, three had implemented in grades 9 through 11, and two had implemented in grades 9 and 10. Although a convenience sample, the schools were located in a variety of locales across the state.


According to state-­assigned locale designations, two schools were located in large cities, one in a small town, two in midsize cities, two in rural areas, and one in the urban fringe of a midsize city.

New tech Model School Attribute

As described above, the eight schools implemented the NT model in one of three ways: whole school implementation, autonomous school implementation, and small learning community implementation. Three schools implemented NT across their whole school. They are smaller high schools; two are located in rural communities and one is in a small town. Two schools in this study were established as autonomous schools; they are both located in midsize cities. The NT model at three schools was implemented as a small learning community housed within a large district school; two are located in large cities and one in the urban fringe of a midsize city.


The participant schools enrolled between 178 and 539 students. Students were mostly White, although one school’s population included 71.6% students of color. Around 10% of students were identified as having special educational needs, except for those in one school, whose population of students with special needs consisted of almost 21% of enrolled students. Most schools included between 25 and 45% of students who qualified for free or reduced-­price meals, with the exception of two, which served almost 82% and a little more than 70% of this group of students. Finally, most schools had few English Language Learners (ELL), although two schools included 12.6% and 8.5% ELLs. The two schools whose student population was most diverse were also the two schools located in urban areas.


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Democracy was defined as a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. This description embedded the concept of democracy within social life. However, it was recognized that broad diversity across society makes it challenging to create a sense of connection to any particular ideal. Therefore, democratic societies must have a type of education which gives individuals a personal interest in social relationships and control, and the habits of mind which secure social changes without introducing disorder.


It is believed that education could bring about common values and that the role of the school is to provide students with opportunities for collaborative communication and investigation. These opportunities characterize the way that students engage in “democratic living” and develop common goals and understandings, as well as the behaviors needed to pursue justice, equity, and social change. It was said that students working together on common problems, establishing the rules by which their classrooms will be governed, testing and evaluating ideas for the improvement of classroom life and learning, and participating in the construction of objectives for their own learning.

Social Life Applied in School

Researchers also insisted that measures be developed and utilized to determine the value of various models of social life when applied in schools. He noted that there are both positive and negative models of social living, and suggested two standards for considering the value of these. First, we must examine the number and variety of shared interests within the example. Second, we should assess the interactions within and beyond the model. It was warned against creating ideal models without applying them to actual societies, or schools when we are using metrics to examine models of democratic education. In other words, we cannot create democratic school models that are impractical or impossible. At the same time, we need ways to measure school models in order to define and describe exactly what distinguishes them from other types of schooling.

The First New Tech High School

The first New Tech high school was founded in 1996 with the goal of preparing students more effectively for post secondary education and careers. Within a few years, interest in the high school led to the founding of the New Tech Network (NTN), an organization responsible for scaling up the school model. In order to facilitate school development, NTN utilizes a Learning Organization Framework, which incorporates the use of data to inform short-­term decision-­making with the creation of aligned learning structures, shared and emerging leadership, and progressive school culture to inform long-­term decision-­making. NTN provides support to districts and schools during the implementation process through onsite instructional coaching and leadership development, as well as ongoing professional development institutes.

Three Design Features of New Tech School

The NT school model consists of three design features engaging teaching via project-­based learning (PBL) as the primary instructional approach, empowering and egalitarian school culture, and integrated technology. NT schools utilize a project-­based learning instructional approach with an emphasis on rigorous and relevant projects, and links to the schools’ local community. In addition, NT schools develop an empowering culture of trust, respect, and responsibility where students and teachers have exceptional ownership of the learning experience and their school environment. Finally, NT schools use integrated technology, including a one-­to-­one computing ratio, internet access, and a learning management system, which allow all students to be self-­directed learners and all teachers to be effective facilitators of learning.


Within the state where this study was conducted, districts sought the NT model as a response to perceptions of declining economic opportunity within rural and urban communities and small towns, as well as out of the desire to offer a more innovative education to students across the state. The state legislature facilitated growth of the model by offering grants to cover the cost of adoption and implementation. Although the NT model had originally been conceived to accommodate about 400 students per school, expansion to this state challenged NTN to broaden its implementation guidelines. For instance, rural schools often had enrollment between 400 and 600 students so that adopting the model for the whole school made more sense than implementing it with two-­thirds of students.


All in all, the NT high schools in this state implemented the model in one of three ways: whole school, autonomous school, and small learning community. Autonomous schools operate like magnet programs that draw students from across their school districts to a campus separate from the local high schools, and small learning communities function as specialized programs located within the walls of a district high school. As described above, whole-­school implementations typically include around 600 students, or the entire student body, while autonomous schools and small learning communities serve about 400 students, or 100 per grade level. As usual, please check out the circular saw, the best drill bits and the best Router Tools if you intend to work with wood or other material at the same condition, thank you.


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Power Sharing

Power sharing includes three variables: authority structure, spaces for participation, and scope of participation.

Authority Structures

First, authority structures describe the school’s leadership approach. Holistic democracy (HD) school leaders distribute decision making and share responsibility, while rational bureaucratic hierarchy (RBH) leaders implement top-­down approaches that place themselves clearly as the authority. HD structures require mutual accountability for all members of the school community including administrators, counselors, teachers, students, and parents. This might perpetuate within an HD school as student-­or teacher-­led decision-­making groups that hold themselves accountable for reaching goals and completing tasks.

Spaces of Participation

Second, spaces for participation describes the openness of decision-­making structures. Exclusive spaces limit participation to only a few stakeholders, such as administrators, and make the decision-­making process secretive. Conversely, inclusive spaces allow for transparency through communal participation of all school members. RBH schools utilize exclusive spaces whereas HD schools create inclusive spaces for participation.

Scope of Participation

Third, scope of participation describes the actual topics that are discussed collectively within the school. Although teachers and students may be invited to participate in making some decisions at an RBH school, administrators at such schools would limit teacher and student participation to more trivial topics. For instance, a principal may ask students what menus they enjoy eating from in the school cafeteria but would not ask students to help create the school’s strategic plan. An HD school would focus participation beyond operational matters and toward the mission and vision of the school. In other words, all school community members would be invited to contribute to discussions determining the overall direction of the school toward academic improvement for all students and the development of equitable policies and practices.

Transforming Dialogue

Transforming dialogue also includes three variables: communication flows, key purpose of dialogue, and engagement.

Communication Flows

First, the communication flows variable identifies the direction of communication. On the one hand, within RHB schools, stakeholders focus more on telling instead of listening. In addition, who does the telling is limited to a small group of stakeholders such as administrators and department chairs. On the other hand, in HD schools, communication flows in numerous directions where all stakeholders are welcome to contribute in an environment of trust and respect. In other words, all members of the school community, including administrators, teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders, are not only invited to share their perspectives and ideas openly but also are willing to genuinely listen to each other so that communication flows between and among all members.

Key Purpose of Dialogue

Second, the key purpose of dialogue in HD schools is the sharing of diverse viewpoints, epidemiological, and research with the goal of moving groups toward innovative and communal ideas that transform thinking. This purpose contrasts with that of RHB schools, where dialogue is mainly situational and focused on communicating information. When the purpose of dialogue is holistic, new ideas can be rigorously explored; stakeholders examine problems and explore multiple solutions with the goal of growth for the whole school community.


Third, engagement describes the value that the school places on specific types of personal participation. RHB schools value participation that advantages specific individuals who are motivated to act on balance of rewards they will receive. Conversely, HD schools engage all members as complete individuals who each bring special talents, skills, motivations, and desires to the logical process. This allows individuals to be their genuine selves in the context of interactions. They may share not only knowledge or skills but also beliefs and feelings.

Holistic well-being

Holistic well-being includes three variables: community, personal, and mindset. Community well-­being embodies the focus of relationships within the school.


First, community distinguishes the ways that members of the school community connect with each other. Interactions within RHB schools are characterized by selfish or self-­centered objectives, where common purposes are addressed only superficially. However, community within HD schools embodies a sense of harmony where members are valued as individuals and compassionate relationships are cultivated. This occurs in schools when teachers and students demonstrate that they care about each other as individuals. Such care might be embodied in teachers showing interest in students’ lives outside of school or noticing when students are unhappy and asking them how they can help.


Second, personal well-being signifies how the school develops and supports each member’s sense of connection to the school. At RHB schools, various stakeholders may feel alienated or separated from the school. However, HD schools nurture harmony with oneself, one another, the global community, and the ultimate reality. Schools can nurture personal harmony by providing students and teachers opportunities for personal reflection within the school day.


Finally, mindset describes the way of thinking valued by the school. RHB schools privilege compliance, whereas HD schools desire democratic consciousness. When stakeholders are democratically conscious, they collaborate as autonomous, thinking individuals united through the common goals of seeking reality and working for social justice. This could manifest in schools via service learning projects, community partnerships, or social activism.


I utilized Degrees of Democracy Framework (DDF) to examine the extent to which the NT school model embodies characteristics and practices related to demo-cratic education in general and holistic democracy in particular.

Holistic Democracy

Woods and Woods (2012) defined holistic democracy as a collab-orative process through which each person develops more fully when in spiritual and ecological communion with others. Holistic democracy enables individuals to find their purpose and seek “truth in an open-­hearted, open-­minded way” while extending their individual capacities (p. 708). Further, it entails all members of the school community to act in inclusive, egalitarian, and peaceful ways when collectively making decisions, solving problems, and resolving conflict.

Further Explanation

Holistic democracy includes four “ways of being and acting:” holistic meaning, power sharing, transforming dialogue, and holistic well-­being. Holistic meaning describes our consciousness of what it means to be human, and how we pursue our human nature as spiritual, moral, intellectual, emotional, artistic, and physical beings. Power sharing identifies the ways that we ought to interact with each other through structures that distribute decision-­ making and include all stakeholders. Transforming dialogue defines an atmosphere where individuals may share ideas openly and disagree respectfully with the intention of reaching under-standing of self and others, personal growth, and community good. and utilitarian ends. Finally, holistic well-­being embodies a sense of connection among individuals through “democratic participant-ton and a sense of agency”


The DDF explores holistic democracy through 13 variables whereby schools are examined along a continuum from a “rational bureaucratic hierarchy” (RBH) to a holistic democracy (HD). Holistic meaning is measured by organizational purpose, the goals of learning, teaching pedagogues, and approaches to learning. Levels of power sharing are identified based on the structure of authority, as well as spaces for and scope of participation. Transforming dialogue is examined via the direction of communications, dialog purposes, and overall engagement in dialogue. Finally, holistic well-­being is evaluated based on the nature and quality of relationships within the school, the personal sense of belonging to the school, and the way(s) of thinking encouraged and supported by the school.

More detailed

A more detailed description of each variable will contribute to a better understanding of the DDF. As describe above, holistic meaning includes four variables: principal organizational purpose, knowledge goal, method of teaching and creating knowledge, and mode of learning.

Principal Organizational

Firstly, principal organizational purpose refers to the school’s mission, which is gauged through the most valued measures of success, as well as the overarching principles that drive teaching and learning. RBH schools might focus on measures such as standardized test scores and grade point averages. These compare students or schools to each other, creating a competitive rather than collaborative environment. Conversely, HD schools prioritize principles such as equity, care, and parity so that students may learn to balance their own growth with the growth of others.

Knowledge Goal

Second, knowledge goal describes the types of student and teacher knowledge that are valued and pursued within the school. RBH schools emphasize the types of knowledge traditionally measured through standardized tests. However, HD schools are more likely to teach and measure 21st-­century learning such as collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, technol-ogy integration, and communication. These learning goals embody not just traditional academic performance, but also interpersonal and interpersonal learning and growth.

Method of Teaching

Third, method of teaching and creating knowledge includes a school’s organizational structures and understanding of knowledge. RBH schools would utilize departmental structures whereby content is taught in isolation demonstrating delimited instruction. But HD schools approach knowledge as interdisciplinary and co-created by students and teachers alike. Additionally, instructional approaches such as inquiry or project-­based learning offer students ways to master skills-­based knowledge beyond the learning objectives defined within lists of content standards.

Mode of Learning

Finally, mode of learning describes the emphasis placed on specific types of learning. While RBH schools emphasize cognitive learning, HD schools move toward inclusive learning that incorporates not only cognitive learning, but also emotional, anesthetic, artistic, transcendent, and instinctual learning. In practice, HD schools might emphasize students’ social and emotional development as equally important to learning content standards.


The evidence provided in the above sections builds towards the conclusion that we are healthier, happier, and more productive when connected with nature. Unfortunately, we live and work in built environments with Canadians spending 88% of their lives indoors. If this connection to nature is truly restorative, then we need to take every practical opportunity to bring natural elements into our indoor environments. By the way, take a look at the level and the Best Woodworking Books to support us

Lower Stress

In the small but growing volume of research on wood and health, the results that are emerging mirror results we have seen from exposure to other natural elements, such as views and plants. Lower stress reactivity in the autonomic nervous system is found when wood, plant, or nature views are present. Lower sympathetic activation and higher parasympathetic activation result in measurably lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, lower skin conductivity, and higher heart rate variability. These results have been linked to exposure to wood.

The Other Side

However, lower stress activation due to views and plants have also been shown to increase the ability to concentrate, lower pain perception, and speed recovery times. Though these benefits have not been identified for wood, they are tied to the same autonomic responses to nature seen with wood. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that future research on wood will find many of these same results.

Natural Materials and Views to Health

In healthcare environments, natural materials and views are associated with better patient outcomes with respect to recovery times, lower pain perception, and positive dispositions. This alone is reason  for including more wood in in these buildings.

Healthcare Facilities

However, healthcare facilities are populated not only by patients, but also by their visiting families and the practitioners that treat them. These people also benefit from the pro health effects of nature. Their health, in turn, benefits the patient. Visiting or accompanying family members with lower stress levels and more positive moods likely affect patient stress level and mood. Further, the link between natural elements and the ability to focus attention cannot be ignored for healthcare practitioners who work all hours and often do not have access to the benefits of natural light. For these workers, wood can bring many pro health benefits in the absence of a connection to outdoors and day lighting.


Wood can bring nature into hospitals and care facilities in very practical ways. First, wood use in buildings is not reliant on windows with views and natural light. Wood can be employed in windowless or non-day lit areas of a building to bring about the benefits of exposure to nature. Further, unlike other natural elements, wood can be used both in a visual and a mechanical role, for example, as an exposed structural material or furniture. Of course, good judgment must be used when employing  wood surfaces. Design for durability and cleanability are key considerations when wood is used. However, recent wood-forward hospital construction and renovations in Canada and abroad have successfully employed the material to critical acclaim and high user satisfaction. The shift towards greater use of wood in healthcare environments is an important and practical step in reconnecting patients, families, and practitioners with the pro health benefits of exposure to nature.


Prior to the current focus on psychophysiological measurements of wood and health there were several studies of the self-report or cognitive response type. Self-report is the most common type of study in  the field of environmental psychology. By the way, take a look on the Best Wood Chisels and Makita Drill of us.


They execute these studies through surveys, interviews, and activities such as sorting photographs of environments. They capture cognitive experience, expectations or beliefs, rather than pre-cognitive physiological reactions. In choosing a material to promote heath both types of studies are valid. It is important that a material such as wood promotes health at a pre-cognitive level, but also that people have the expectation that the material is healthy and desirable.

Health Description

In a 2004 UBC study respondents sorted architectural finishing photographs according to various health descriptions. Though this study did not measure actual health outcomes it found that respondents had an expectation that wooden surfaces contribute to human health and well- being.

Inside Background Effects

Nearly 50 photos from home decorating magazines and catalogues were shown to study participants after the proportion of surfaces in each image covered by wood were calculated. Spaces were seen as warm (i.e., pleasantly relaxed) places to be as the proportion of wooden surfaces increased up to a level of 43% wood, and fell after that proportion of wooden surfaces reached that level. Researchers determined that living rooms using 0% or 100% wood were classified as most novel, and rooms with other percentages of wood in use being classified as less novel.

Outside Background Effects

Researchers learned that “weathered wood and wood shingle are seen  as warmer, more emotional, weaker, more tender, more feminine, and more delicate than are brick, concrete block or flagstone.” These effects may, at least in part, result from the fact that “Emotionality, tenderness, and femininity are semantically related to warmth, and may derive from the relative perceptual qualities of wood and stone. Similarly, the relative weakness and tenderness ascribed to wood may be related to the physical characteristics of wood and stone.”


Two studies published by Ridoutt and colleagues in 2002, shed light on the nonverbal messages sent by wood used in interior design. Study participants were shown images of office lobbies, some of whose finishes were wood, and lobbies in which other materials were used. Firms with wooden finishes in their reception areas were seen as more prestigious than those using other materials, as well as more energetic, innovative, and comfortable. Firms using wood materials in their lobbies were felt to be more desirable organizations to work.