You might be familiar with the word holistic education in recent times due to its growing popularity. People have started to realize that running behind in marks and grades is not going to help students in the long run. It is time to move beyond core academics and start educating students as a whole. In this article, let’s discuss the importance of holistic education, understanding its characteristics, and the pros and cons of this education methodology.
Holistic education also called holistic learning theory is an education methodology that aims for the overall development of the student rather than focusing only on core academics. It nurtures all aspects of a personality including the mind, body, and spirit.
Holistic education originated from the concept of instruction in ancient Greece and indigenous cultures. The term holistic education was first coined by a South African military leader, scholar, and philosopher, Field Marshal General Jan Christiaan Smuts. This theory was proposed based on the concept ‘Whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
The actual development of holistic education happened during the 1980s. Many states have started incorporating this learning method into their curriculum. This trend of holistic education is encouraged by the Every Students Succeed Act (ESSA) According to Education Council, more schools are moving towards this trend and are integrating non-academic aspects with the academic aspects of their education system.
Further advancement in this learning method is the introduction of ‘imaginative teaching’. Imagination is the ability to think of what might be possible. It takes learning and teaching beyond the limits of reality. This kind of teaching can unleash the full creative potential of students.
Role of a Teacher in Holistic Education
Teachers should not be seen as a person of authority. Instead, they need to be seen as a good companion. Commonly, we don’t share some things with parents or teachers as easily as with our friends. Hence to get a real bond with the student, a teacher has to achieve a friendly relationship with the student.
- Good Communication
Communication is the key to solving most of the problems that exist in the contemporary world. The same applies to an educational institution. Every student must feel free to communicate with the mentor. Once a good way of communication is established between the students and teachers, the teachers can easily identify blocking states that exist among students and eventually draft a plan to solve them.
- Mutual Understanding
A teacher should have a better understanding of each student. In the same way, every student should also understand the motives and character of a teacher. When a student understands the genuine motive of a mentor, he/she gets to know about the real value of the mentor. This will be followed by the realization part where students will start following the guidelines of the mentor, not by force, but through mutual understanding.
- Cooperation Over Competition
A teacher willing to promote holistic education should give more value to cooperation rather than competition among students. It is a matter of fact that healthy competition among students is beneficial. But my point is, competition should not be overemphasized.
A good teacher should promote team spirit among students. In this way, they will become ready to face the problems in society as a unified community.
- Less Focus on Grades and Rewards
The race for grades and rewards has to be eliminated if you care about the holistic development of your student. Each student will have a different set of talents. Thus, it is not wise to compare these different sets of talents and assess them based on grade points.
Further, the real world has nothing to do with grades. Understanding the underlying concept of the subject and considering the non-academic parts of education as well is the key to achieving holistic development.
- Encourage Self-Confidence
Self-confidence is an essential attribute of every student which will help a student to realize their full potential. Some students cannot improve in various criteria not just because they do not have enough skills. They may be lacking the required level of self-confidence.
It is the role of a teacher to encourage students to showcase their skills and express themselves in front of other students. For instance, a teacher can insist students give a short talk about a topic in which they are interested, once a week, in front of their classmates.
Unique Features of Holistic Education
- Educating the Whole Student
Think of the student as a whole. When you do so, it will become clear that academics are only a part of the student but not everything. Hence it is important to nurture other parts too.
- Caring Classroom Culture
Holistic education spreads positivity in the classroom. Instead of comparing and competing, students are taught to work and grow as a team. This method will create bright students who will not only be intellectual but also will become good members of the global or local community.
- Education Through Experience
Instead of blindly believing everything that is taught to them. Students are encouraged to experiment with new things and start learning by themselves.
- Consideration of Social Needs
Every student is going to become a member of society at one point or the other in the future. Thus, it is crucial to incorporate social skills into the curriculum.
- Incorporation of Moral Values
A student who is strong in fundamental moral values will travel in the correct direction throughout his/her life. Knowledge without adherence to basic moral values will go in vain.
- Depreciation of the Reward System
Holistic education depreciates the reward system which may include grades and credits. The goal is to become the better version of yourself but not become better than someone else.
- Promotion of Equality
A sense of equality is everything that is required to promote peace and harmony in the learning environment. Students with different capabilities are treated in the same way, provided, each one excels in one way or the other.
Equality also exists between students and faculty. Both teachers and students show respect to each other.
Teaching Strategies for Holistic Education
- Transformative Approach
It contradicts the usual method of transmitting information from teacher to student. A teacher should teach a student how to think critically. Thus, students are taught to find solutions to different problems.
- Place-based Approach
This approach focuses on teaching their students based on their local environment. For example, a student can be taught how to keep his/her locality free from air pollution.
- Inquiry-Based Learning
Students are encouraged to ask as many questions as possible. The investigation is an essential skill for every student. This will lead to the discovery of new ideas and is better than passive learning.
Self-learning is an essential part of every human being. Teachers can only guide, it is up to students to hold to the right path and keep moving forward.
Benefits of Holistic Education
The benefits of holistic education are countless. It is better than the traditional system of transferring information. Let’s see some of the important benefits here.
- Holistic education will lead to the development of well-rounded adults, which means people who are suitable to live in the real world are made through this education system.
- This education methodology is well suited for the modern era. The twenty-first century is a digital book where people can easily forget about real human feelings. Hence this trend of holistic education is the need of the current era.
- Learning is indeed an everlasting process in a human’s life and this education method emphasizes this fact.
- This system motivates the students to reach higher levels. Since the classroom is filled with positive energy and happiness, spread as a result of an understanding between each other, students can be easily kept motivated all the time.
- Holistic education assists in the creation of cohesive communities. A cohesive community in which people have a strong connection with each other is the need of the hour.
- Studies have shown that holistic education could considerably increase the problem-solving capacity of students. It prepares students to face real-world problems.
- This education system enhances the mental stability and emotional well-being of students. The academic strength of students cannot help them without these critical traits.
Disadvantages of Holistic Education
Even the perfectly built structure comes with its disadvantages and holistic education is not an exception. Let me share the major disadvantages of this education system.
- This system may underemphasize core academics. ‘Too much of anything is good for nothing. As per this statement, when a student gets engaged in improving his non-academic aspects all the time, things may go in the wrong direction. Hence, a good balance is required.
- Everything comes with a price and the same goes for holistic education which takes time and money as the price. Holistic education is more complicated than traditional education systems and thus requires parents to spend some extra money.
- It is hard to convince parents. Some parents want their wards to be better than others. They may create disputes for overemphasizing social-emotional learning, arts, and sports.
I have discussed the important aspects of a trending education methodology, holistic education, in this article. In my opinion, this is a powerful education system, if implemented in the right way since humanity and intelligence are an integral part of a man’s life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Can holistic education be followed in all schools?
No, it requires infrastructure and trained staff to implement the system.
- Why is this system becoming a trend these days?
In this modern era, people are suffering from stress and are lacking actual human interaction. Hence, this education system became the need of the hour.
- How can I become a part of holistic education?
You can either be a student or a teacher who gives equal importance to your body, mind, and spirit.