The Key Scholars Behind 4MAT

The Liminal Scholars who form the foundation of the 4MAT Learning Cycle

liminal |ˈlimənl|

1 of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.  2 occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

Kurt Lewin: 1890-1946KurtLewin

Founder of American Social Psychology. The integration of theory and practice. Discovered that learning is best facilitated in an environment where there is a dialectic tension and conflict between immediate, concrete experience and analytic detachment. There is dialectic tension throughout 4MAT.


John Dewey: 1859-1952JohnDewey.png

The continuity of experience is a powerful truth of human existence, central to the theory of learning. Every experience both takes up something from those which have gone before and modifies in some way the quality of those which come after.


Carl Jung: 1875-1961CarlJung

Jung was one of the first people to define introversion and extraversion in a psychological context, i.e., the 4MAT process dimension. The Myers-Briggs Typology was developed from Jung’s theory of Psychological Types and was one of the instruments used to norm the 4MAT Learning Type Measure. (LTM)


Jean Piaget 1896-1980Piaget.png

The learning process as a dialectic between assimilating experience into concepts and accommodating concepts to experience, the 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock movement. In addition, his work on epistemology, the relationship between the structure of knowledge and how it is learned, by ordering

It, moving from feeling to thinking, and then using it, in both old and new ways–Constructivism.

David Kolb 1939—DavidKolb.png

 Developed the Experiential Learning Model composed of four elements:

  • concrete experience,
  • observation of and reflection on that experience,
  • formation of abstract concepts based upon the reflection,
  • testing the new concepts,

These four elements are the essence of a spiral of learning that can begin with any one of the four elements, but typically begins with a concrete experience.

Kolb’s Learning Styles Indicator (LSI) was one of the instruments used to Norm the 4MAT Learning Type Measure. (LTM)

Paulo Freire: 1921-1997  PauloFreire.png

The educational system is primarily an agent of social control. We must change this by instilling critical consciousness, the active exploration of personal experiential meaning of abstract concepts through dialogue.


William James: 1842-1910  WiliamJames

Knowledge is continuously derived from and tested out in the experiences of the learner. Feelings are the germ and starting point of cognition. To know means that we have become wiling to turn away from “precious possessions” in behalf of a grasp of understandings we do not yet own.

Mary Parker Follett: 1868-1983

A management consultant, philosopher, and pioneer in the field of group dynamics. She believed in the necessity of participatory, integrative democracy. She believed the boundaries of a person’s identities are effected by the society around them, and that society in turn is effected by the identities of the people within it. Thus the self and the society, according to Parker, are in a cycle in which they constantly help to create one another.

Carl Rogers: 1902-1987

One of the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology. People react to the continually changing world of experience. It is their reality. The best vantage point for understanding behavior is from the internal frame of reference of the individual.

Lev Vygotsky: 1896-1934LevVygotsky

(The Zone of Proximal Development)

Learning is a social process, and the process is shaped by social development, in collaboration with more capable peers, that is where learning occurs, with interactions with others, stretching to transform reactions—the dialectical approach, that is, admitting the influence of nature on man while asserting that man in turn affects nature.