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Holistic and Academic Education

Info: 2426 words (10 pages) Essay
Published: 18th May 2017 in Education

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Holistic education is a discipline of education based on the premise that each person finds, meaning, identity and purpose in life through connections to the natural world, to the community, and to humanitarian values such as peace and compassion. Holistic education aims to call forth from people an intrinsic reverence for life and a passionate love of learning. This is the definition given by Miller, editor, founder and author of the journal Holistic Education. The term holistic education is often used to refer to the more democratic and humanistic types of alternative education. Flake, C. L (1998) describes this further by stating, “What distinguishes holistic education from other forms of education, at its most general level, are its objectives, its focus to learning through experience, its goals and the significance it places on primary human values and relationships, within a learning environment.”

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The concept of holism refers to the idea that all the properties of a given system in any field of study cannot be determined or explained by the sum of its component parts [Forbes, S. H, 1996]. The system as a whole instead determines the behavior of its parts. There is no single source for a holistic education movement. There is neither a major form of expression nor a predominant proponent. It is difficult to define clearly a holistic education. There are a number of perceptions and values, however that most schools claiming to be holistic would follow [Miller.R, 2010]. A holistic way of thinking rather than defining human possibilities narrowly, literally tries to integrate and encompass multiple layers of experience and meaning.

Teaching Methodologies

There are several methodologies adopted by schools that preach holistic education:

Religion as a part of life:

Holistic education cultivates religious values as a part of the life. There are classes that insist and preach moral values such as divinity, spirituality, realization of self, morality, mortality, serving the community and much more.

Live Workshops:

Education through experience is the main motto of holistic education. Everything is made live in the form of workshops. Scholars from various disciplines interact with the students and conduct real-time workshops rather than imparting the bookish knowledge. Children or students literally do what they learn and learn what they do. This make the children gain experience in each and every subject they learn.

Science Fairs and Exhibitions:

The institutions spent a lot of amount in gather people of same likes and interests at a single place and share their views on thoughts. Knowledge is the only resource that multiplies on sharing. Knowledge transfer is accomplished in holistic education due to many fairs and exhibitions.

Special Training Programs:

Training programs to develop various technical, managerial and behavioral skills are conducted often by these institutions. Some of the most significant training programs are leadership training, team building training, communication training, psychological training, orientation training and religious training.


The teachers in the holistic schools are not strict as that of regular academic schools. Rather than threatening the students by exercising strict control over them, these teachers act as real friends and mentors of the students. The children can get guidance from their mentors very easily and without a hesitation. The barrier between the teacher- student relationships is completely broken in holistic education.

Thus holistic education is far beyond the styles adopted by conventional academic learning. With acts like terrorism, crime and violence increasing in the society, holistic learning, obviously is the need of the hour.

Aims and objectives of the study

Primary Objective:

To understand the key concepts and options of holistic education.

To analyze the difference between academic and holistic education.

To identify the need for holistic education.

To study the process of education followed in holistic institutions in India.

To evaluate the effectiveness of holistic education systems.

Secondary Objective:

To create awareness about holistic education among people of India.

To emphasis the need for holistic education in India.

To encourage the people to seek holistic education rather than conventional academic education.

Review of literature

The Indian educational history has always been glorified by the presence of universities like Nalanda, Vikramshila and Taxila, from the ancient period. India has got the privilege of establishing universities, even before there were universities in continents like Europe.

The contributions of Arya Bhatta, Chanakya, Kalidasa and Baskaracharyya could not be forgotten by the whole world. Be it mathematics, science, literature or technology, India would be in the list of one of the historic contributors irrespective of the discipline of education. Indians have produced many of the most successful and remarkable insights, thoughts and inventions.

However, on examining the post independent era, the scenario of growth in the present Indian education is remarkably low and in fact pitiable. The 65 years of post independence has not made much difference in Indian education, especially in rural India. Independent India however has stood unique by setting up over seventy education commission or education committee.

Out of the 94 developing countries in the world, the position of India is 76th in terms of overall educational development index [EDI]. The percentage of students enrolled in first standard (Class I) and reached to fifth standard (Class V) is 77 in other developing countries. Controversially in India it is only 60%. [Krishnamurthy, 1994]. This statistical data is significant enough to understand the deteriorating situation of present India.

India ranks a low 105 out of 127 nations in UNESCO’s Education for All Development Index (EDI) for 2004, despite its much-prevalent “Education for All (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan)” initiative. The worst part of it is that the United Nation body says it is doubtful if India would be able to achieve the “EFA” (Education for All) goal. The EFA goals concentrates on 100% enrolment in primary schools by the year 2015 and it is one of the U N’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

All this has happened only because of the conventional educational system that focuses much on making the children to pile up with loads of books rather than understanding the true value of education. The conventional academic education ruins the imaginative power of kids. Especially the academic educational system in India is so strict that it does not give place for creativity and human values.

On the other hand, an alternative educational system also known as holistic education is emerging in India. Unlike the conventional system, holistic education concentrates on learning through experience. This gives a new definition and style to education. By this system, children can learn by doing whatever they love to do. This system induces an interest for learning among children and education is being made a fun by this process.

Holistic learning is also known as transformative learning. Jack Mezirow (2000), Neuman (1998), Boyd & Meyers and Edmond O’Sullivan, (1988) have contributed to the research of transformative learning and have identified a new framework or pedagogy that is to be demonstrated in holistic programs. According to Mezirow, the goal of education is “to help the individual become a more autonomous thinker by learning to negotiate his or her own values, meanings, and purpose rather than uncritically acting on those of others”[Mezirow ,2000]. According to Edmond O’Sullivan, transformative learning involves experiencing a deep, structural shift in the basic premises of thought, feelings, and actions. It is a shift of consciousness that dramatically and permanently alters our way of being in the world. [Edmond O’Sullivan, 1988].

O’Sullivan E., has identified five themes as the fundamental to transformative learning.

The connection or relationship that humans have with the natural world also known as the consciousness of the environment

Conscious world citizens, equality, peace, world citizenship, interdependency, narratives of inclusion and interconnectedness

Integral curriculum; integral development-from the personal to the planetary, contextual-holistic vs. content-informational

An experience of belonging: community, a place, roots

A sense of the sacred: integrative dimension of experience, awe, respect for life, connections to the spirit

[Jack Mezirow, 2000], On the other hand has specified ten elements that provide a strong foundation for transformative learning.

A sense of safety, openness, trust; egalitarian, nonjudgmental and non-competitive environment

A learner centered approach

Critical reflection and explorations of alternative personal perspectives

Affective learning, emotions and feelings discussed

Solitude, self dialogue

Handling disagreement, confronting rather than avoiding

Experiential learning

Acknowledging many ways of knowing and learning; multiple intelligences

Questioning our assumptions, beliefs

The use of rational discourse, dialogue

[Boyd and Meyers, 1988], include supporting students to recognize their “spirit”-a knowing or a truth that resides in them, in promoting transformative learning.

[Neuman, 1996] expands the acknowledgment of the importance of feelings and emotions to the transformative aspects of learning experiences.

Research methodology

Two forms of research are undertaken in order for the purpose of satisfying the objectives of the study:

Primary Research: Data collected through first-hand sources

Secondary Research: Second-hand data collected through different sources

Primary research- Quantitative Research

Quantitative research method will be followed in order to create a detailed analysis of consumers’ perception regarding emails and direct mails as marketing medium in India. Quantitative research offers several advantages to the study: Brower et al (2000, pg. 366) assert that “quantitative researchers pursue- and insist that they generate- value-free, unbiased data”. Similarly, McLaughlin et al (2002) highlight the following uses of quantitative approach:

– Research and establish explicit hypotheses

– Uses accurate measures of concepts

– Uses tests of statistical significance

– Uses controls for other explanatory variables

– Provides a clear theoretical context


The term case-study usually refers to a fairly intensive examination of a single unit such as a person, a small group of people, or a single company. Case-studies involve measuring what is there and how it got there. In this sense, it is historical. It can enable the researcher to explore, unravel and understand problems, issues and relationships. It cannot, however, allow the researcher to generalize, that is, to argue that from one case-study the results, findings or theory developed apply to other similar case-studies. The case looked at may be unique and, therefore not representative of other instances. It is, of course, possible to look at several case-studies to represent certain features of management that we are interested in studying. The case-study approach is often done to make practical improvements. Contributions to general knowledge are incidental.

The case-study method has four steps:

Determine the present situation.

Gather background information about the past and key variables.

Test hypotheses. The background information collected will have been analyzed for possible hypotheses. In this step, specific evidence about each hypothesis can be gathered. This step aims to eliminate possibilities which conflict with the evidence collected and to gain confidence for the important hypotheses. The culmination of this step might be the development of an experimental design to test out more rigorously the hypotheses developed, or it might be to take action to remedy the problem.

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Take remedial action. The aim is to check that the hypotheses tested actually work out in practice. Some action, correction or improvement is made and a re-check carried out on the situation to see what effect the change has brought about.

The case-study enables rich information to be gathered from which potentially useful hypotheses can be generated. It can be a time-consuming process. It is also inefficient in researching situations which are already well structured and where the important variables have been identified. They lack utility when attempting to reach rigorous conclusions or determining precise relationships between variables.

Sample size

This study takes into consideration ten different holistic schools functioning in India.

Secondary Research

Secondary data is the information what was collected in the past for some other purpose. Usually, researchers start their investigation by studying a rich variety of already accessible data, to see if they can make a breakthrough in the study partly or wholly, without the use of expensive, time-consuming first-hand research. The following forms of secondary data will be used to research purpose:


Journals and articles



Online web portals

Annual Reports

Government Agencies

Independent Agencies

Government official reports

Limitations of the study- .5 page

This concentrates on the holistic educational practices in India and not any other type of education.

This study focuses exclusively on alternate schools.

This study involves the holistic schools in India alone.

This study is applicable for holistic schools that have been successfully serving the society for not less than eight years.


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