Holistic Development in School Education: Creating Progressive Thinkers

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“Education is the process of living and is not meant to be the preparation of future living”
_ (Dewey, 1897)

The above statement is the reflection of what education must be. When its focus is on process of living, that indicates learning begins at birth where the child gains knowledge unconsciously and primarily through touch and feel and then gradually acquiring knowledge through exploring and experiencing. Hence, it is necessary that education has two layers which are psychological at the base and the sociological. School education ought to help children be more aware of their abilities and teach life skills that are often foundational to true learning and helping them form self-identities and create self- awareness. When we say holistic education, it must prepare children for their future and help them tackle any of life’s uncertainties. The School is the only place where this type of holistic education can be inculcated. The lack of holistic education is the major reason why students are not able to face failures or rejections which may lead to engaging in antisocial activities, choosing destructive behaviours out of guilt and anger, or taking the ultimate step of ending their life, etc. Education fails, if it doesn’t prepare the child for community living.

Training children to use their kinesthetic(body) tools like ears, eyes, legs and hands and learning to use their discretion to make decisions in adverse conditions is the primary objective of the education system. Teachers and school management are instrumental in making this happen. As we all know, knowledge is a social condition and imparting knowledge in children via right pedagogical structure is the core responsibility of any education system. Education must focus the child as a whole -which means, the pedagogy caters to the physical, emotional, social and cognitive development of children. This in turn creates progressive thinkers. Change is inevitable. Progressive thinkers are those who can handle change using positive ways and means using the traits such as flexibility and adaptability. Holistic education must help the child to develop and nurture 21st century skills like active learning, out of box thinking, critical thinking, effective communication, collaboration, technological skills, knowledge on life skills and career personality, etc. These are some of the core attributes of progressive thinkers.

We cannot deny the fact that each student must be good at the content of the core academic subjects, but teaching essential skills that are required for personal growth and successful living is what makes students confident and progressive thinkers. Each child learns best by using predominant learning style by constructing his/her own understanding based on natural instincts, knowledge gained and life experiences and not mere testing or consuming knowledge through normative standardized practices. Hence, adopting an integrated curriculum using experiential and expeditionary learning that has elements of problem solving, critical thinking, scope to develop leadership skills emphasizing team spirit and collaborative work is the need of the hour. Children must be given a chance to achieve individual goals through highly personalized learning and at the same time contribute towards the upliftment of the community and commit to social responsibility. This ought to be the essence of education, which, in turn, will create progressive thinkers and eventually fulfill the goal of school education.

About the author:

Dr. Vasuki Mathivanan, founder of Explore Counselling-a company with a motto “hopeless to hopeful” , has obtained her Ph.D degree in Psychology from Madras University. She has exposure in the field of teaching, counseling, training, research guidance and psychological assessment for about 20 years in diversified work environments. Currently, she is the President of Chennai Counselors’ Foundation-A forum for Mental Health Professionals. She is one of the advisory board members of GT ALOHA Vidya Mandir group of Institutions, Chennai.

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