A New And Creative Approach To An Ideal Education For Life And Global Leadership
Education must shift from a purely academic focus to a whole child approach in which not only cognitive, but also physical, social, emotional, and civic learning and health is targeted and developed.
Today, there is a longing in the hearts of all those people who are truly concerned about the future of all our children and the humankind at large, for an educational pedagogy and philosophy that is capable of providing an education that is truly progressive, creative, holistic, relevant and practical in content and nature – that is the whole child education.
In my opinion, this new and creative approach to whole child education is all about making sure that every child in our homes, every learner in our schools is motivated, engaged, supported, encouraged, challenged, accepted, respected, educated, enlightened and empowered at every moment of his/her life. This new and different approach to education is one of the very basic yet imminent demands of the 21st century. I, along with all the progressive educators and educationists, am greatly convinced that this progressive system of education will definitely be able to prepare all our young learners for the numerous opportunities that life will present before them and endless challenges they may have to face in every day and every moment of their lives. I firmly believe that preparing these young learners for tomorrow is the shared responsibility and duty of the parents, educators, families, schools and the society in which they live. It is indeed a great challenge for all of us.
It is rightly said that ‘a good teacher cares about a child’s education but a great teacher cares about the whole child’. The Whole Child Education approach is a comprehensive and progressive method of education which can give a totally new and different meaning and thrust to the teaching-learning process by changing and reframing the policies and methodologies. Therefore, understanding that every child deserves to be healthy, happy and safe, engaged, supported and encouraged, challenged and empowered is the prerequisite for realizing the whole child education philosophy.
Listed below are some of the fundamental traits/features of Whole Child Education:
- Each child feels accepted and respected as he/she is and cared for within the learning community.
- Each child is placed in an environment that is conducive for holistic development wherein he/she is able to develop himself/herself into a fully grown and mature individual in all aspects of life namely physical, intellectual, emotional, social, ethical, and spiritual.
- Each child is treated as an individual, expected to grow and become a mature adult by celebrating his/her uniqueness.
- Each child is positively influenced and motivated to engage himself/herself in creative and purposeful learning.
- Each child is given individual care and attention with the help of Individual Learning Plans (ILP) and Personalized Learning.
- Each child is empowered with a learning that is primarily Project-Based, Skill-Based, Theme-Based, Knowledge-Based and Value-Based.
- Each child is encouraged and enabled to learn at his/her own pace with the help of Individual Learning Plans (ILP) under the watchful eyes and keen observation of the facilitators so as to help him/her reach his/her true potential.
- The entire philosophy of the Whole Child Education is centred around the concept of Child-Centric (Learner-Centric) and Child-Led (Learner-Led) learning environment.
- Various learning corners are designed thoughtfully and prepared creatively considering the age, need, abilities and interests of the learners so as to help them engage in active and joyful learning.
- Learning environment is so welcoming and creative that learners are constantly challenged in academic and non-academic aspects of their learning in order to prepare them for life and global leadership thus making them worthy, responsible and conscious persons.
- It is a very positive and encouraging learning environment in which the learners are provided with continuous support and encouragement to ‘awaken the giant within them’.
- It is a creative approach to education that aims at providing learning for life, entrepreneurship and harmonious living with one another and the entire creation.
- Its primary goal is to provide every child with a safe, happy and conducive environment wherein he/she will be able thrive and prosper in order to develop and master the 21st century skills namely Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Information literacy, Media literacy, Technology literacy, Flexibility, Leadership, Initiative, Productivity, and Social skills.
- Every child is encouraged to learn, to grow and to succeed in life considering the fact that ‘a whole child is curious, creative, caring, empathetic, and confident’.
- The approach to whole child education puts at the forefront the uniqueness, interests, innate talents, innermost desires and passion of every child.
- It supports and inspires a life-long learning through all senses.
- It is an approach that understands the fact that ‘learning does not start and finish at school’ and it encompasses the entire cosmos.
- It is an approach that visualizes and understands that each child will be an adult capable of becoming a great leader, inventor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, educationist, artist, entertainer and so on.
- Play becomes an integral part of the curriculum that plays an optimal role in the making of a child into a potential leader.
- The whole child education is a creative approach to education because it promotes the highest possible development of each child and prepares him/her socially to be a responsible and compassionate person.
It is observed that a healthy, happy, safe, motivated, positive and enthusiastic child learns better, faster, longer, deeper and stronger in quality and quantity because the child does his/her best at what he or she loves the most. The Whole Child Education philosophy strongly advocates that children are to be challenged positively and supported ardently in order to achieve optimal growth and enduring success.
Great educational psychologists and radical educationists of the modern era firmly believe that educating the whole child is the ideal way to educate a child because it places paramount importance on providing a safe and conducive environment wherein learning becomes his/her passion, his/her entertainment and his/her way of living.Lynn Stoddard in his famous book titled ‘Education for Human Greatness’ asserts that a whole child education must seek to develop in the learners the most fundamental qualities namely initiative, integrity, imagination, an enquiring mind, self-knowledge, interpersonal skills, and the ability to feel and recognize truth on different levels.
Let us therefore, encourage, enlighten and empower every child, every learner to grow in every area of learning using the Whole Child Approach and thus help them ‘develop socially, emotionally, physically, mentally, and civically as well as cognitively’ as observed by Sean Slade, the Director of Whole Child Programs at Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).
As we live in an era of rapid growth and radical changes, educating the whole child has become essential and it is the responsibility of every parent, teacher, educator, home, school and society to ensure that every child gets access to and benefits from the whole child education. Schools need to adapt swiftly to radical changes that are required for making the whole child education a reality for all our children with greater commitment, utmost genuineness and improved ingenuity. It is highly convincing that only the whole child approach to education that is systematic, structured, sustainable, creative and comprehensive can enable and empower all our young learners to think critically, act creatively, communicate effectively, live amicably and progress positively in the global environment.
I would like to sincerely acknowledge the fact that the entire process of thinking about and reflecting upon this new and creative approach of whole child education has been a thought provoking and an inspiring experience for me personally as it has rekindled my enthusiasm and reinforced my convictions so as to entertain my big, bold and beautiful dream of being an integral part of and playing a pivotal role in a school and as well as an education system that is truly progressive, child-centric and child-led.I would like to appeal to every educator to contribute positively and substantially towards helping the whole child approach to radically change every child, every classroom, every school, every society and the world we live in!
Let us celebrate Progressive Learning with Whole Child Education!
M Alfred William is the Principal of Wisdom Wealth International School (Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu), a Progressive School that strives to mould and shape Global Leaders through a life-oriented and personalized learning.
He has served as a Teacher, Sports Secretary, Cultural Secretary, Vice-Principal, Principal and Manager in five different schools in India since 2006. He has a great passion for teaching and learning and enjoys the responsibility of being a school administrator. He is a voracious reader and loves sports and games. He holds master’s degrees in English, Computer Science, Education and Business Administration. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Sciences. He firmly believes that EDUCATION can change one’s destiny by changing one’s mental attitude. Therefore, he strives to become a great educator in order to bring revolution and innovation in the field of education.