HOLISTIC 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 young people an intrinsic reverence for life and a passionate love for learning.
The art of holistic education lies in its responsiveness to the diverse learning styles and needs of evolving human beings.
Following the evolving makeup of the student population and their needs, a new demand has emerged for the holistic education experience that is highly personalised, adaptive and relevant.
Students today are used to personalisation — from Amazon to Netflix — and the higher education experience should be no different.
Students are juggling jobs and college, they need tech solutions that make their lives easier and what they need is a seamless engaging experience.
By helping students feel part of the wholeness of the universe, learning will naturally be enchanted and inviting.
There is no one best way to accomplish this goal as there are many paths of learning.
The World Economic Forum had reported that 65 per cent of people entering college this year will ultimately be working in jobs that don’t currently exist.
It’s hard to imagine what tomorrow’s jobs will need, but what we do know is that different skills, ways of thinking and analysing will be required.
We need to rethink how we are preparing the future workforce by viewing students as lifelong learners, not just test takers, and equipping them with future work skills.
The future employee will need to be a well-rounded individual with not only trade or degree-relevant skills, but with both hard and soft skills that will allow them to shift careers to keep up with the evolving economy.
Equally important to the future of work is exposure to new technologies.
Maya Georgieva, a futurist and the digital director at The New School says, “One thing new technologies do excel at is getting the attention of the next generation”.
Innovations involving augmented reality and virtual reality can fulfil young students’ desires for deeper experiences, while preparing them to use and develop such technologies in the classroom and the workplace.
The current conundrum however with regard to implementing a holistic approach towards teaching is that when high-performing students face unprecedented challenges or setbacks, they often do not possess the strategies and coping mechanisms to overcome those unexpected obstacles.
We know that in order to promote resilience and optimism in students, students must develop their own growth mindset, and learn to view their failures as inspiration and groundwork for future success.
How the growth mindset transforms teaching is that it expands beyond the concentration on “what” to achieve and moves us to also look at “how” students learn.
This shift has been dramatic as students are taught to value process and progress, right along with the educational mainstays of performance and product.
As students are trained to focus on the learning process itself, teachers can provide students with a variety of dependable learning strategies, study and organisational skills and attitudes of perseverance that will assist them in making incremental progress. This way, challenge and mistakes become a natural part of personal growth.
To truly complete the notion of the whole child, we do indeed require an additional learning mindset. The benefit mindset adds the development of empathy and altruism to the social, emotional, soulful and intellectual needs of students.
When children are encouraged and specifically taught to leverage their talents and personal interests, they begin to feel integrated with— and integral to — an inclusive learning experience that benefits all.
Let’s face it: whether we’re kids or adults, we’re going to stumble. We’ll fall short, we’ll be denied, and we’ll take a step or two back on what Paul McCartney called “the long and winding road”.
Facing these setbacks with a growth mindset helps us remember that, even though we are not there yet, we are well on the way. In the end, much of our lives are spent focusing on what we learn and what mistakes we make.
It’s inherent in our academic careers, our working lives and relationships of every definition.
Unfortunately, we’re often conditioned to believe that it’s our errors more than anything else that define us.
In essence, it is a way of saying that life and learning are both a journey, and they are meant to be experienced to the fullest.
Teaching students how to learn, relearn and unlearn will set them up with the skills to thrive in the workforce of the future.
Ultimately, it is about providing the students with the skills and qualities that prepare them for an unpredictable future — for which straight A’s are not the only prerequisite.
The writer is senior lecturer, Faculty of University Foundation Studies, HELP Matriculation Centre