Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018

Designing Road map for Whole Child Education

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November 1, 2018


Academicians and stakeholders across the world are now looking for approaches to make education a lifelong asset for a child in the shaping of the body, mind, and heart and soul of an individual. By the term ‘The Whole Child Approach’ in Education we mean to develop a child in such a way that it makes him a self-sustained, independent, self-motivated, socially, morally, cultured and responsible citizen.

What is the difference between an educated child and well educated person? In over 22 years of teaching this is the question that I repeatedly come back to. If asked at the beginning of my career, I like many other people would say that getting the highest percentage marks and A plus grades by a child is the sign of getting good education or to be a well educated person. Unfortunately this is still the approach of many teachers and schools who are not able to get over ‘marks factory’ model of education.

‘To the doctor, the child is a typhoid patient; to the playground supervisor, a first baseman; to the teacher, a learner of arithmetic. At times, he may be different things to each of these specialists, but too rarely is he a whole child to any of them.’This extract is taken from the 1930 report of the White House Conference on Children and Youth.

Every child in every classroom, everyday is everyone- a whole person a physical being a social being, a cognitive being, an emotional being and it is not possible for the teacher to leave any aspect of his being at the classroom door.

Need for Whole Child Learning:

Teaching the whole child is important for a child’s learning as:

  • It establishes student commitment to learning because students see themselves as part of an engaged supportive caring community.
  • It affirms the importance of critical thinking above rote and mechanical learning because teachers now challenge and engage the individual learner.
  • It supports academic freedom,encourages innovation and experimentation.
  • Each student is actively engaged in learning and is connected to the school and broader community.

The term ‘whole child approach’ widely implies that children are influenced by things around them and interact with everything and vice versa. The learning they experience is social, linguistic, creative, physical, and/or mental. It moves from narrowly defined academic achievement to the promotion of long-term development and success of all children. It aligns integration and collaboration of health and education. The belief that all children can learn, stems from the phrase ‘educating the whole child’.

Setting Ambitious Curriculum and Powerful Instruction:

21 century is full of developmental promises and new-fangled challenges. It has opened before us the doors to plan and prepare for the next revolution in education. In schools and institutions across the world questions are being asked about how to make education fit for this purpose. Achieving this goal requires teaching and learning that challenges students to think critically, sparks their creativity and supports their diverse needs. It also means expanding the definition of core instruction to subjects including the arts, health and physical education, and offering out-of-school enrichment to promote the comprehensive and balanced development we want for all children.

Developing Student-centred instruction:

Learning to a child comes through many ways and teaching is one of them. Children learn many new things while they do something of their own. They take pride in their learning when it is organized independently for them. One of science teachers of my school, Mr. Ajay Dass, teaches Physics and Chemistry. Rather than teaching in the classrooms he is seen with his learners in labs, in the school garden or under the trees where he engages the entire class in such a way that all students perform to their best.

Awaken Academic mindsets:

Augustine “Og” Mandino,a widely read self-help and inspirational American author who wrote the bestselling book ‘The Greatest Salesman in the World’,with 50 million copies sold, once wrote,‘We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.’ Academic mindsets refer to motivational components that influence a student’s desire and will to engage in the learning process. In addition to motivating a student’s engagement in deeper learning instructional practices, positive academic mindsets can also be seen as important deeper learning outcomes. The outcomes of schooling are not only content knowledge and academic competencies, but also the people that students become from having participated in their educational experiences. To develop young adults with a positive and efficacious sense of self and confidence in their abilities to engage with and contribute to the world,schools need to provide deeper learning opportunities in which students can follow their interests and strength enbonds with peers.

Establish linking between Learning and Life:

From my educational experiences first as a student, then as a public school teacher, and currently as School Head, I am convinced that relevance is one of the most important aspects of teaching and learning. I know that as a student, the content I found most relevant was the easiest to learn, so as a teacher, I believe it is my job to help students see the relevance in content they may not find inherently interesting. Keeping in view this fact school curriculum planners and teachers should see that learners are being provided personal and real world relevance to the learning experiences they get in their schools.

Need for Well Rounded Education:

It is the dream of every parent to see his/her children successful in life in all spheres – educationally, economically, socially, emotionally, etc. In addition to developing academic skills, schools are expected to furnish students with experiences that nurture aptitude in critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, etc. Further, schools are also expected to include lifelong utility to education through arts, music, and other enrichment within their curriculum. Arts, music, listening, reading, writing, presentation, team work are the most common skills that help personality building.

While getting the students’ views on ‘Success and Struggle’ I got this beautiful motivational poem collected from a child of class VI to end this article.

Follow Your Dream
Follow your dream…
Take one step at a time
And don’t settle for less,
Just continue to climb.
Follow your dream…
If you stumble don’t stop
And lose sight of your goal,
Press on to the top.
For only from top
Can we see the whole view
Can we see what we’ve done
And what we can do
Can we then have the vision to seek something new…
Press on,
And follow your dream.

Ashok Singh Guleria

Ashok Singh Guleria

Ashok Singh Guleria, a teacher of 21 years standing, is a post- graduate in English Literature. He writes on pedagogical issues and children’s behavioural concerns. He has worked as Head of Department of English, curriculum planner and Academic Coordinator cum Teachers’ Trainer at the Akal Academy Group of Schools managed by the Kalghidhar Education Trust, Baru Sahib, at Kajri in Uttar Pradesh. He works as Principal at Akal Academy, Gomti. Besides, he is pursuing a Master degree in Psychology from IGNOU. He strives to develop and facilitate the building of a robust and sustainable teaching-learning fraternity with a strong sense of work culture. He can be reached at ashok.

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