Monday, August 10, 2015

What is Holistic Education?

Throughout the course many of us have been exploring the true meaning of Holistic Education. I thought I would devote a post to the idea of Holistic Education, what it is, why it is important and the research behind it. Here is a topline summary of the important facts about Holistic Education!

What is Holistic Education?

Sandra Poindexter, 2010 illustrates the need for holistic education through this one inspiring quote: 

"Effective use of teaching and learning innovations still has a long way to go. And it is far less likely that any one approach will prove better than a holistic approach that looks at teaching and learning from an integrated perspective."

Holistic education today is looking at teaching through an integrated perspective - one that values the whole student, the whole classroom, the whole brain and of course all resources available that include technology. 

Technology is key especially when working with the generation of students who have grown up with technology - keeping ourselves as educators up to date and mainstream allows us to capture the imagination, attention and connect with our students. 

Why is it important?

Poindexter, 2010 states that "adding small increments of innovation and using multiple strategies to capitalize on their synergy surely offers the greatest potential for impact." In the end, is it not the goal of all educators to make an impact? Therefore, why stick to one way when there are multiple tools, strategies and concepts that could make an impact. This impact should be felt not only at the student level, but new teachers and veteran teachers should feel the impact on their learning when they stretch and try something new. As our course has taught me branching out and learning something new - authoring a website, working collaboratively purely through a digital interface stretches my comfort level and makes me a better student and therefore a better teacher. 

Academics behind Holistic Education

Lovat, 2011 suggests that holistic education does the following: 

  1. a classroom that focuses on solely academics sees a rise in behaviour issues, and a classroom that focuses on behaviour has poor academic results. A modelling teacher that addresses both has the greatest impact
  2. values education that teaches the whole being has a large impact on education including academics
Bieler & Fink, 2013

  1. Holistic mentoring relationships can serve as a space of sustenance in which teachers can cultivate agentive visions for their work in the world-not only their own, but their colleagues' and their students' as well.
  2. Holistic mentoring practice involves reciprocal teaching and learning and emphasizes individual autonomy thus, it disrupts the banking model  as it occurs in teacher preparation programs that position student teachers primarily as receptacles for knowledge about teaching.
  3. There is an astonishing 50% drop out rate for new teachers within the first five years of teaching, but when we seek to integrate the different aspects of our identities, we strengthen our ability to be agentive as teachers and learners and a holistic mentoring practice can assist in this practice. 


Bieler, D., & Fink, L. S., R.W.T. (2013). Strengthening new teacher agency through holistic mentoring. English Journal, 102(3), 23-32. Retrieved from

Lovat, T. (2011). Values education and holistic learning: Updated research perspectives. International Journal of Educational Research, 50(3), 148-152

Poindexter, S. (2010). The Case Holistic Learning: Sandra Poindexter. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 24-30. 

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