Education of the Century: Whole Child Approach
Education in institutions undoubtedly takes care of a strong foundation of the core needs of a child, like the reading, writing and understanding of the core subjects. 21st century education can no more be narrowly defined to be based on academic achievement only; instead, it needs to focus on and promote the long-term development and success of children.
Today’s education in school should have multi-dimensional sides, with a definite direction of curriculum as usual; at the same time educators should take the needs of the future of the children into consideration,which requires a totally new approach to education. The whole child approach is a new approach where education no longer restricts in preparing students for the next standard only; rather the approach helps them on the path to face all kinds of challenges, to choose a college, career, and guides them how to have a positive attitude towards proud citizenship.
Research, practice, and common sense have confirmed that the whole child approach to education develops and prepares students for the obstacles and opportunities of today and tomorrow. This whole child approach ensures the overall development of a child academically, mentally and physically. Education system in this approach provides an atmosphere where an individual feels safe and can grow. A safe environment encourages more students to attend school. This approach specifies that schools provide an atmosphere that is physically and emotionally safe. This will encourage less dropouts. Physical health also reduces absenteeism and leads to higher academic achievement. This becomes possible only by addressing students’ comprehensive needs through the shared responsibility of students, families, schools, and communities. Schools alone can never attain this goal. There is a definite need of the child to be encompassed by his surroundings. The whole child approach in school ensures that students are not only engaged but are supported by elders, and their learning is comprehensive, which will provide long-term success like employment and participation in a global environment.
It is therefore essential that the school curriculum includes field trips and projects that would give hands-on instruction to all children. It should give a range of options to choose the co-curricular activities that could give children global relevance. The curriculum should allow creativity, and encourage him to evaluate information, solve complex issues, prepare him to think critically to draw conclusions of his own.
All educators need to dream, to be passionate and improve on the work they do for the students. The system must include needs of every child in its instruction, the school climate, leadership, family engagement, or any of the other issues children face daily. For this emphasis should be laid on the enrichment of all educators and empower them to get tools to help them improve their skills and methodology. Proper training becomes an absolute necessity for the same.
To meet the whole child approach in schools the education system should have schools with healthy student- teacher relations and focus on the emotional needs of the students. This will lead to lower rates of emotional distress, violence and delinquency. There is a need to increase awareness and understanding among educators, families and other stakeholders to create a support system to work in a team. The whole child approach can make the stressful profession of teaching to be a rewarding one as educators here will be able to strike a balance and create understanding and compassionate citizens of tomorrow.
Dr. Suchitra Bhattacharya is the Principal of GD Goenka Public School, Paschim Vihar. She started her career as a teacher in Punjab and has over 16 years of experience in teaching, administration and management of schools in cross-cultural, multi- disciplinary environment across geographical and regional boundaries.
She is M.Phil in English Literature and Ph.D in Education. Dr Bhattacharya is a trained classical singer and a Bharatnatyam dancer too.
Coming from the Army fraternity Dr Suchitra, always stood beside the students in border areas. She loves to spend time with teenage children.
She has been Principal of reputed ICSE and CBSE schools in Kolkata and a professional developer of curriculum for teachers, pedagogies and learning styles. She is a keen writer and a social worker. As a true educationist she has great faith and hope in the children. She strongly believes that today’s young generation has immense potential and can be guided with a smile, motivation and understanding.