Mariam Sambe

Researcher - Health Education,

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Does Holistic Education prepare students for today’s world?

Holistic education is based on the principle that students find identity and purpose in life by connecting to the community, nature, and humanitarian values. The purpose of holistic education is not only to prepare students for academic success, but to also enable them to learn the challenges of living as a whole (learning about themselves, about healthy relationships, about social responsibility, compassion, etc).
Although this type of education appears noble, some argue that it is difficult to implement; and if implemented, it is not necessarily needed in today’s competitive world. Critics find that holistic education lacks academic rigor and does not create future leaders (but only collaborators). Hence, students graduating from holistic institutions may have a hard time adjusting to university or future employment. It is also argued that holistic education is costly (it requires more skilled teachers, numerous extra-curricular activities, lots of open space, etc…)

What is your take on this?

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    Aug 10 2011: What we call here holistic education as a new trend or way in learning accord with our times is really a vey old tecnhique that was used in diverse cultures in history. India in the ancient period of Dravidian Era has it and is the oldest example of the holistic approach. In the western culture the first universities in Europe design the TRIVIUM and QUADRIVIUM as an holistic way to comprehend the universe, among others techiques or methods. In the ancient mexican culture the mayans, mexicas and the zapotecas and purehpechas has their own ways to an education in universe perspectives. We in the Jesuit order used to see the universe as a whole thing and the holistic approach is within us in education (our main task) from the very foundation since XVI century.
    Today we rediscover it and really I hope to see the day when the holistic education could be used spreadly.
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    Aug 10 2011: indeed!!!
    holistic education is the right approach to prepare students for the upcoming future.....
    According to Swami Vivekananda:Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.

    What is education? Is it book-learning? No. Is it diverse knowledge? Not even that.
    The training by which the current and expression of will are brought under control and
    become fruitful is called education. Now consider, is that education as a result of which
    the will, being continuously choked by force through generations, is now well-nigh killed
    out;is that education which is slowly making man a machine?
    n. Now, the moral this story is meant to teach is that true education is
    gained by living in constant communion with Nature.
    so holistic education which refers not only to the academic succes but also to create social awareness,relationship,innovation and creativity,responsibillities...and it requires highly skilled educators,perfect learning environment and open field to recognise and proof indegenous talents.....

    thank you
    Banani Acharya
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      Aug 10 2011: Yes!! Sparkling insight-foresight.

      And I believe to get it faster going, we need to show the logic in a good way.

      Somewhere else on TEDc it was mentioned the word 'school' means 'creative leisure'.

      I believe it is 50% looking inside, what you need, what you want. And 50% outside, what the community need and want. Always keep sharp what is needed (survival) and wanted (luxury). For both personal paths holistic learning is needed.

      The holistic thought resonates also very much with the "empathic civilization' and the 'global tribe' awareness.

      Currently talking a lot about indigenous wisdom proliferation in the 'materialized' world.
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      Aug 10 2011: I completely agree with you Banani and Paul. Having adequate social awareness, being comfortable with one-self and others, learning about compassion, responsibilities, etc. is essential. However, don’t you think that the cost of implementing a holistic school over-shadows the benefit? Added to the fact that it is difficult to find skilled teachers who can carry-on this system, it seems that it is complicated to have a holistic education system that works well.
      I am reading and hearing about unsuccessful holistic schools because of the clash between graduates and “real life”. Some holistic schools are criticized for preparing students with weak academic achievement (but necessary life-skills), which is unfortunate because the plan is to send students to university, right? Wouldn’t it be regrettable that students graduating from holistic schools have a hard time academically competing with other students? Or is it possible to have a holistic education system that has high academic standards?
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        Aug 11 2011: Understanding the challenge;

        'Whole'- We Culture :
        At the moment we are at the heights of seeing the body and mind separate. We did this to get a better understanding of both. We figured out the body (the easy part, it is measurable). We figured out the mind (difficult to convince the masses as there is no measurable proof).

        Currently body and mind stretched so far as an individual, tribe, society, planet we start to realize we do not function anymore. There is a natural urge to bring mind and body together again. Many people will work on this quest to get the elastic tension away.

        We will look at best practice for growing body and mind. We understand both so we can knit them together.

        Pragmatics for education, we need to understand the essence of essence :

        Rational : Finding segments/parts. Standard education is preparing to work : Primary school to university, very rational, learning how to chop and distribute. This can be carrots or text. Factorylines and Officelines. Goal ; to keep the material system going.

        Emotional : Finding relations between segments/parts. Standard holistic education does this, but gives to little attention to defining the parts/segments. This is in disconnect with keeping society running, as in essence we need to shop and distribute food, water and housing. To much wellbeing, little well having in holistic education.

        The intention of Montessori is great. Though it has to compete with the efficient chop and distribute line of standard education. With the same money from the state. In order to keep the Montessori spirit up, rational chopping, finding segments ability is left behind. focus is safeguarding immaterial bindings. unity consciousness.

        Montessori has the balance in original writing. Now our challenge to take the best of standard and holistic education;

        Rational education can be almost free because of technology and digital quests. Holistic education needs to bond with the right parts/segments.

        Just what I believe.
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      Aug 10 2011: Banani depp and truly words from a master. Swami Vivekananda is one of the most appreciated masters that we study. Thanks for express his wisdom.
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      Aug 18 2011: It seems that we all agree on the benefits of Holistic Education... The question is, why don't governments see it too and transform (or re-transform) education to meet the needs. Price? Time? Knowledge?
  • Aug 10 2011: Holistic education is for the complete development of the personality and cultivation of human potential and so 'yes' it is needed in today's competitive world. The problems of today result from lack of moral intelligence resulting from emphasis on destructive competition. Intelligent collaboration is the way to solve our human problems.
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    E G

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    Aug 28 2011: According to your definition/sayings from above : you don't talk about education , education don't mean learning .
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      Aug 10 2011: Hey Ed,
      Could you elaborate on that please?
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          Aug 11 2011: Thanks for your reply.
          Yes, I totally agree with “The culture has to be the foundation of education not the education system being the foundation of education”… Except that unfortunately, that’s not the case in today’s world. That’s actually why I thought this conversation would be interesting. Also, because holistic education has a variety of characteristics—depending on how and who contributed to the principles of ‘holism’ (Rousseau, Emerson, Ron Miller, Montessori, Forbes, etc…) it was impossible for me to write down a complete definition in the introductory paragraph.
          To answer your question: “are you referring to such systems as Montessori?” Yes, but also more. As I said above, there are many contributors to holistic education, hence, several different approaches. My hope is that this conversation will provide ideas and information about all that.