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Holistic Education

Page history last edited by Stephanie Knox 13 years, 11 months ago

Holistic Education

Holistic world views in general are characterized by comprehension of the parts of something (individuals, individual learning experiences) as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole (the greater world).  Holistic education is based in relationships and connections.  Holists believe that both interpersonal and intrapersonal aspects of education are incredibly important. 


Holistic education is key to peace education since it looks at the relationships between all aspects of life.  Peace does not and cannot exist ina vacuum and therefore, individual aspects of peace cannot be isolated.  Holistic approaches to education recognize this and work to incorporate all aspects of peace.  For holists the term "relationships" refers to one's relationship with one's self, other human beings, animals, nature and ideas. 


Since relationships are key, students need to form a relationship with their curriculum and what they learn in school.  To achieve this relationship holists believe in promoting connections between the curriculum and the lives of students.   Due to the centrality of these two ideas, relationships and connections, holists believe that everything is interconnected.  Therefore, students must learn how to see connections between everything they learn in school and out of school.  


Holistic educators and philosophers are largely critical of the contempoary education system throughout the world.  One of their biggest critiques is that the current system does not incorporate the entire student.  Holists believe that education today only focuses on the mind, while a true education must focus on the mind, body and spirit since all of these aspects are connected and influence each other. 


One model of holism in practice is seen in the Waldorf Educational System (Mitchell, n.d.).  Waldorf education was developed by Rudolph Steiner in 1919 and has the goal of engaging the head , the hands and the heart of children in a developmentally appropriate manner.  Waldorf schools believe that the physical environment is important for learning and therefore decorate their schools in a colorful and pleasing manner. Teachers also evaluate students using haikus that express each student's strengthes and weaknesses which may or may not have anything to do with traditional academic areas.   Holists use experiential education through the creation of environments for experimentation (see Maria Montessori, another well known Holist) as well as through lots of time spent in nature. 


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