Wikipedia defines holistic education as one “concerned with the development of every person’s intellectual, emotional, social, physical, artistic, creative and spiritual potentials.” This definition is consistent with the views on the aims of education of the following critics of the public education system: the Swiss humanitarian Johann Pestalozzi, the American Transcendentalists, Thoreau, Emerson and Alcott, the founders of “progressive” education – Francis Parker and John Dewey – and pioneers such as Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner, among others (Miller, 2000). Holistic education began to take shape as an identifiable area of study and practice in the mid-1980s in North America.
Holistic Education is a methodology that focuses on preparing students to meet any challenges they may face in life and in their academic careers. It seeks to enable one to learn about oneself, develop healthy relationships and positive social behaviors, undergo social and emotional growth, have resilience, and acquire the ability to see beauty, have awe, experience transcendence, and appreciate some sense of “truths” (Teachnology, n.d.).
Holistic education believes that children need to not only develop academically but also develop the ability to survive in the modern world. They need to be able to rise up to successfully address the challenges they will face in life going ahead, while at the same time contributing to the world in which they live. Children need to develop self-esteem, acknowledge their self-worth, and recognize their talents and abilities while they figure out what they want in life. This ties into the way they build, treat and honor their relationships with their friends and family as well as at school and in the community at large. Social development, health, and intellectual development are given importance. Children must be taught to face difficulties in life and overcome them, and thereby cultivate resilience. Children are also inspired to observe natural beauty and contemplate the truth and the meaning of life. Thus, it seeks to create “well-rounded” individuals who are balanced not only in their outlook on life but also in their personal understanding of themselves in relation to the world (Teachnology, n.d.).
Holistic education seeks to endow people with a passion for learning and reverence for life while acquiring knowledge through experiential learning and paying attention to human values in the learning environment. For instance, in holistic education, the teacher is expected to be less authoritarian, in that they do not control and lead in a rigid fashion, and be more of “a friend, a mentor, a facilitator, or an experienced traveling companion” so that they can motivate the children to alter their behavior and outlook on life for the best.
When it comes to students, holistic education allows children to study and learn at their own pace. It provides children with a pace consonant with their individual needs so as to avoid frustration, boredom, or loss of interest. Thus, the art of holistic education lies in its responsiveness to the diverse learning styles and needs of evolving human beings. Holistic education strongly believes that every child is more than a future employee; every person’s intelligence and abilities are far more complex than his or her scores on standardized tests (Miller, 2000).
By fostering collaboration rather than competition in classrooms, teachers help students feel connected. Teachers kindle the love of learning by using real-life experiences, current events, the dramatic arts and other lively sources of knowledge as supplements to textbook information. Passive memorization of “facts” is de-emphasized, while reflection and questioning are encouraged. This keeps alive the “flame of intelligence” in the students, which is so much more important to be instilled in them than mere problem-solving skills. By accommodating differences and refusing to label children, like say, “learning disabled” or “hyperactive,” teachers let flower the unique gifts contained within each child’s spirit (Miller, 2000).
Call to Action:
You will find it very fruitful to get in touch with us at Butterfly Fields because we facilitate holistic education through our educational models and inputs since we strive to:
• Emphasize learning by doing and provide hands-on projects and opportunities
• Design integrated curriculum focused on thematic units
• Help students learn to develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
• Provide regular opportunities for group work and the development of social skills
• Facilitate understanding and action as the goals of learning as opposed to rote knowledge
• Emphasize collaboration and cooperation rather than competition
• Supplement the use of textbooks with varied learning resources
• Create life-long learners
• Assess by evaluation of children’s projects, goals and learning experiences
• Help students understand and respect their learning styles (School Around Us, n.d.)
Having won the 2019 IDA Corporate Award for STEM Experiential Learning for the category Integration of Holistic Development in Education, Butterfly Fields knows a thing or two when it comes to holistic education. Trust us and profit.
Miller, R., 2000. A brief introduction to holistic education. [Online]
Available at: http://infed.org/mobi/a-brief-introduction-to-holistic-education/
[Accessed 24 Oct 2019].
School Around Us, n.d. Holistic Education. [Online]
Available at: http://www.schoolaroundus.org/holisticeducation
[Accessed 24 Oct 2019].
Teachnology, n.d. What is Holistic Education?. [Online]
Available at: http://www.teach-nology.com/teachers/methods/holistic/
[Accessed 24 Oct 2019].