is active discourse and experimentation in holistic models of education that
has much to offer international education. In international development, holistic generally refers to
the integration of various facets of life such as economics, livelihood skills,
health education and nutrition into education. Holistic education also attempts to nurture the development
of the whole person - this includes the intellectual, emotional, physical,
social, aesthetic and spiritual (J. Miller 2005). The aim of holistic teaching
is to facilitate a more fully integrated learning experience rather than the
fractured and alienated learning experience and consequent life experience
produced by much modern Western pedagogy (Orr 2005). Both here in the US and in other countries such as India,
educational thinkers have stressed the necessity to gear education to the whole
child. This thinking tends to be outside of the mainstream of educational
thinking. Yet looking at the whole
of a child’s life is necessary when education is being used as a tool of
transformation, empowerment and change.
looking at what education could be,
we need to look beyond seeing education as a tool to train the mind or prepare
for a job. Education can teach us how
to use our mind, how to respond peacefully, how to find and follow our passions. This type of education comes not just
from learning about these
things but from experiencing them in the classroom. Simply teaching a new set of ideas is not enough unless the
emotional, behavioral and spiritual aspects of these ideas are addressed in the
student’s life. Classrooms could
be a place of caring, understanding and creativity rather than a place filled
with fear and conformity.
number of approaches to education are holistic in nature such as integral
education, transformative education, constructivist approaches, Gandhi’s Basic
Education, peace education, mindfulness education and values education. The aim of this section is to explore
these many views of education and broaden our scope of what education can mean.
from “A Brief
Introduction to Holistic Education” by Ron Miller
the 200-year history of public schooling, a widely scattered group of critics
have pointed out that the education of young human beings should involve much
more than simply molding them into future workers or citizens. The Swiss
Pestalozzi, the American Transcendentalists, Thoreau,
the founders of "progressive"
education - Francis Parker and John Dewey
-- and pioneers such as Maria Montessori
and Rudolf Steiner, among
others, all insisted that education should be understood as the art of
cultivating the moral, emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual
dimensions of the developing child. During the 1970s, an emerging body of
literature in science, philosophy and cultural history provided an overarching
concept to describe this way of understanding education -- a perspective known
as holism. A holistic way of thinking seeks to encompass and integrate multiple
layers of meaning and experience rather than defining human possibilities
narrowly. Every child is more than a future employee; every person's
intelligence and abilities are far more complex than his or her scores on
education is based on the premise that each person finds identity, meaning, and
purpose in life through connections to the community, to the natural world, and
to spiritual values such as compassion and peace. Holistic education aims to
call forth from people an intrinsic reverence for life and a passionate love of
learning. This is done, not through an academic "curriculum" that
condenses the world into instructional packages, but through direct engagement
with the environment. Holistic education nurtures a sense of wonder. Montessori, for example,
spoke of "cosmic" education: Help the person feel part of the
wholeness of the universe, and learning will naturally be enchanted and
inviting. There is no one best way to accomplish this goal, there are many
paths of learning and the holistic educator values them all; what is
appropriate for some children and adults, in some situations, in some
historical and social contexts, may not be best for others. The art of holistic
education lies in its responsiveness to the diverse learning styles and needs
of evolving human beings. Holistic education cannot be reduced to a set of
techniques or ideologies.
Ultimately holistic education rests in the hearts and minds of the
teachers and students.
intention of education must be the inner transformation and liberation of the
integrated human being who is free of fear. From only such people, society can be transformed into a
place of peace." – Krishnamurti
Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895
- 1986), spent his entire life talking about education as being the agent not
only of inner renewal but also of social change (Thapan 2001). For Krishnamurti
the purpose of education is not merely acquiring knowledge, gathering and
correlating facts; it is to see the significance of life as a whole
(Krishnamurti 1953). A constant
theme in Krishnamurti's declarations of the intentions of education is internal
freedom - the deeper freedom of the psyche and the spirit, the inner liberation
that he felt was both the means and the ends of education (Forbes 2005).
discomfort with the present world order stemmed from his understanding of the
human condition wherein no one is truly happy but ensnared within a
psychological world of sorrow, jealousy, pain, anger, envy and troubled
relationships. This inner turmoil, Krishnamurti understood, could not lead to
harmonious relationships or a good society. It could only create conflict and
contradictions that resulted in fragmentation and chaos. These conditions in
turn led to exploitation, oppression and war. This was the basis of
Krishnamurti’s search for a new or different kind of society that would result
in harmony and well-being among individuals or groups of individuals (Thapan
Krishnamurti has been
described as a ‘revolutionary teacher who worked tirelessly to awaken people—to
awaken their intelligence, to awaken their sense of responsibility, to awaken a
flame of discontent’ (Thapan 2001). He asks, “If you dominate a child, compel him to fit into a
pattern, however idealistic, will he be free at the end of it?” (1953). Merely
to stuff the child with a lot of information, making him pass examinations, is
the most unintelligent form of education. (Krishnamurti 1948). It is important that education should
in fact ‘awaken intelligence’ and not simply reproduce a programmed machine or
trained monkey, as Krishnamurti put it (Thapan 2001). He felt that most schools
emphasize preparing young people to succeed materially in the society that
exists (Forbes 2005). Krishnamurti
established nine schools – one in the US, one in the UK and seven in India.
Education – Steiner
“For it is essential
that we should develop an art of education which will lead us out of the social
chaos into which we have fallen during the last few years and decades. And the only way out of this social
chaos is to bring spirituality into the souls of men through education, so that
out of the spirit itself men may find the way to progress and the further
evolution of civilization.” - Rudolf Steiner
Steiner (1861-1925) sought to solve the double problem of society and education
by recommending imagination, inspiration and intuition (McDermott 1984:
293). He developed the Waldorf
School as an example of the kind of educational advance that is possible when
the teacher and educational philosophy are rooted in a spiritual awareness of
the child and the learning process.
He did not intend the Waldorf School movement to spread worldwide, or
become and enormous system, but rather he wanted his countless pedagogical and
curriculum indications to serve as a model for future experiments in
educational processes based on the true development of the child (McDermott
Education (adapted from Rudolf
education balances artistic, academic and practical work educating the whole
child, hand and heart as well as mind. Its innovative methodology and
developmentally-oriented curriculum, permeated with the arts, address the
child's changing consciousness as it unfolds, stage by stage. Imagination and
creativity are cultivated as well as cognitive growth and a sense of
responsibility for the earth and its inhabitants. Under the warm and active
instruction of their teachers, children are provided with a creative and
nurturing environment in which to develop, grow and learn.
its founding by Rudolf Steiner in 1919, the Waldorf school movement has grown
to over 800 schools throughout the world, over 150 of them in the United States
and Canada. Steiner's detailed psychology of child development has been
supported by modern research in education and neuropsychology. Through Waldorf
education, Steiner hoped that young people would develop the capacities of soul
and intellect and the strength of will that would prepare them to meet the
challenges of their own time and the future.
lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of
war." –Maria Montessori
Montessori (1870 – 1952) visualized a new world where children could grow up in
an atmosphere of peace and respect and extend that attitude into adult
life. She approached education as
a scientist by using the classroom as her laboratory for observing children and
finding ways to help them to achieve their full potential. The Montessori Method of education
combines a philosophy of freedom and self development for children within a
structured setting. Building upon children's intrinsic desire to learn,
Montessori created ideal environments full of opportunities for children to
experiment and initiate their own education. This learning environment is
continually adapted in order that the child may fulfill his greatest potential
- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The Montessori classroom
prepares its students for each successive developmental phase, allowing them to
take responsibility for their own education making choices, changing and
becoming unique human beings.
stressed the need to change our attitudes about children and their treatment.
The philosophy underpinning her work is one of respect and care for all
children: the ideal Montessori teacher is gentle, sympathetic and always
looking for the best in every child. Montessori saw the child as a motivated
doer, rather than an empty vessel. She observed that learning was enhanced when
people have a sense of control and interest over what they are learning
(Lillard 2005). This allows
children to enjoy learning and not learn for the sake of an extrinsic reward
such as a good mark (Lillard 2005).
schools can be found worldwide.
The world’s largest Montessori school is in Lucknow, India. City Montessori School educates 30,000
students from pre-primary through high school. CMS was honored with the UNESCO prize for peace education in
Dalai Lama Foundation
– Education for Ethics and Peace
Fabulous resource. Topics include: Peace Studies, Youth Peace Education
programs, Prevention of conflict & conflict resolution, Humanitarian Assistance &
Reconstruction, Database & Collections, Teaching Peace.
Dalai Lama Center for
Peace & Education
Dalai Lama’s Official
Holistic Education, Inc.
This online encyclopedia
is a rich sampling of key people, theories, and ideas that formed the roots of
many progressive and holistic educational practices.
This network as
established in 2001 by a group of educators who are students of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. The purpose of
the network is to facilitate communication among educators, parents, students
and any others interested in promoting contemplative practice (mindfulness) in
Paths of Learning
www.pathsoflearning.net – great resource on holistic education. Online library.
UNESCO: Non-Violence Education
UNESCO’s focus on non-violence education for 2001 - 2010
(2005). Jiddu Krishnamurti and
his insights into education. http://www.Holistic-Education.net/articles/articles.htm
Gallegos Nava, R. Holistic education: Pedagogy of universal love. Brandon, VT: Foundation for Educational Renewal.
Halstead, J. M. and Taylor, M. J. (eds) (1996). Values
in Education and Education in Values. London: Falmer Press.
Holzman, Lois (1997). Schools
for growth: radical alternatives to current educational models. Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum Assoc.
(1994). Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge Press.
Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1953). Education
and the significance of life.
London: Victor Gollancz Ltd.
Krishnamurti (1948) 5th Public
Talk, 26th September, at Poona.
Langford, Peter E. (2005). Vygotsky’s
developmental and educational philosophy.
New York: Psychology
Lillard, Angeline (2005). Montessori: The Science Behind the
Genius. New York: Oxford University Press.
McCarthy, Coleman (n.d.). Strength through peace: The ideas
and people of nonviolence. Washington, DC: The Center for Teaching Peace.
McDermott, Robert A. (Ed.). (1984). Essential Steiner: Basic Writings of Rudolf Steiner. San
Francisco: Harper & Row.
Miller, John P. (2006).
Educating for wisdom and compassion: creating conditions for timeless
learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Miller John P. et al. (Eds.). (2005).
Holistic learning and spirituality in education : breaking new
ground. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Miller, Ron (2000). Caring for a new life:
essays on holistic education. Brandon, VT: Foundation for Educational Renewal.
Miller, Ron (1990). What are schools for?:
Holistic education in American culture. Brandon, VT: Holistic Education Press.
Noddings, N. (1984). Caring, a feminine
approach to ethics and moral education.
Berkeley: University of
Stephenson, J. et al (Eds). (1998). Values in
Education. Routledge, London.
Tripp, Peggy and Muzzin, Linda (Eds.). (2005). Teaching as activism: equity meets environmentalism.
Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.
Wink, Joan and Putney, LeAnn G. (2002). A vision of Vygotsky. Boston: Allyn and