Education in a holistic way

Posted online: Monday, Mar 24, 2014 at 0000 hrs
In the present state of the world, there is a need to combine eastern and western education methodologies. The spiritual and emotional values of the east and the pragmatism and efficiency of the west is the perfect combination to bring the best out of every child.

A new ethical approach to education which unites the human family, recognizes that there is truth in every religion and brings out the inherent brilliance in every child needs to put at the heart of education through the creation of what the Dalai Lama calls "schools of warm-heartedness".

To be happy is not a right but a duty and by creating these schools of warm-heartness, every child can be given the chance to experience this. These life skills are what every employer, especially on the international stage, is looking for. With seven out of the ten jobs for the future not yet invented, education needs to take this fully holistic approach, which aims at developing young people’s spiritual and emotional qualities, not just their mental and physical ones.

Schools of warm-heartedness are not going to appear without Principals and teachers being given the chance to connect with their own emotional intelligence. Core to teacher development needs to be encouragement for every educator to gain a new vision of the children in their care. Every child is brilliant – at something. Every child is capable of being useful to the world and finding and sharing happiness. The schooling system needs to evolve to cope with a rapidly changing world where values are once again becoming very important. Education which does not reach into the depths of human understanding will fail to deliver to the jobs market of the future the young men and women the world needs .

Just pursuing academic skills alone will not be sufficient to guarantee a job, let alone success in it. Youngsters need speaking skills, other leadership skills, emotional intelligence capabilities and, above all, a commitment to honesty and integrity in all activities of life. The political climate is dogged by the smell of corruption, but society will not be relieved of this until an education system teaches and shows that life can be happy and prosperous by sticking to truth.

In my view, the new world predicted by the futurologists is going to be best served by young people who have this blend of spiritual, moral, social and academic abilities or ‘intelligences’.

Education must start to give real "meaning" to the life of the child. To achieve meaning, our schools are going to have to offer time for reflection and depth, not just superficial learning. In my experience, building times into the school day for quiet meditation, reflection and contemplation pay dividends in creating young adults of depth, sincerity and understanding.They become bright because their minds are sharp and their hearts are open to all around them.They are simply better citizens.

Every child learns differently and at a different speed. The school of the future is going to need to not just accommodate this but create an environment where each youngster can prosper through discovering much more about themselves and each other as human beings. Competition has been the mantra for decades; the new world, however, needs co-operation.

Such education prepares students to deal with the challenges of living as well as academics. The educator who is involved in holistic education needs to be a friend, mentor, facilitator and travelling companion on life's journey.

By David Boddy, Principal Partner, ASIS