Educating the whole person (June 18-24, 2012)


This week we discuss what it means to educate "the whole person" and how we can integrate more holistic learning practices into our own lives.

 

Videos:

Please watch the following videos this week:

Dan Pink, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (~10 minutes)

Martha Beck, Sample Footage from "O" You Conference (~6 minutes)

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity, Fulfillment and Flow (~20 minutes)

 

Readings(s), Optional:

The following optional readings build upon this week's topic:

 

Discussion Questions:

Please discuss the following questions below. Then throughout the week, try to respond to at least two other comments from your colleagues.

  • What does it mean to educate the whole person? Do you consider your definition to apply globally or within a specific community? 
  • What are the components of a holistic education? Feel free to share examples from "real life" education systems and places.
  • To what extent was "finding your North star" (Martha Beck) or realizing your "flow" (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) emphasized in your own upbringing? How did this impact who you are today? 
  • How does the concept of "happiness" fit into "holistic education"?
  • How can you bring more holistic learning practices into your own life?
  • What themes from this week's videos and/or readings really resonated with you?
  • Please respond to at least 2 other comments from your colleagues this week.

 

Skype Discussion, Optional:

  • The optional 1-hour Skype discussion this week will be:

    • Sunday, June 24th at 8:30am Eastern Standard/4:30pm Dubai/11:30pm Sydney

  • Please RSVP for this week's Skype call by emailing Anna (anna at boneducation dot com) your Skype name.

  • If you cannot make the optional Skype discussion time, you are welcome to organize and facilitate another group call with your colleagues.

Discusión de la Tarea


  • Aleksei Malakhov   23 de junio de 2012 a las 11:17
    • What does it mean to educate the whole person? Do you consider your definition to apply globally or within a specific community? 

    I think that a whole person must be able to find a healthy balance among "work, love and play" (I think it comes from K. G. Jung but I might be wrong). Here I mean professional activity, relationships and things you simply enjoy doing (it's great if they have something to do with profession - makes life so much easier). I think this idea applies universally. Too bad I can't seem to find that equilibrium.

    • What are the components of a holistic education? Feel free to share examples from "real life" education systems and places.

    Our professor in Economics took us to uptown NYC schools to read to children. Does it have anything to do with economics? Not directly. But studying Economics of Education and forgetting what education is all about doesn't make sense. I lked the piece about teacher training in Finland - the fact that half of it happens at school. We also had something like this but unlike in Finland almost nobody wanted to be a teacher - hence motivation was close to zero.

    • To what extent was "finding your North star" (Martha Beck) or realizing your "flow" (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) emphasized in your own upbringing? How did this impact who you are today? 

    All I can say is that I'm a direct opposite of what they tried to make of me within 10 years of my schooling. Funny, because I started as an exemplary student in a clean uniform and ended up a frustrated devil-may-care punk rocker in torn denim. When I went to university, my teachers were surprised because they thought I was on my way to prison. I was also surprised by respect my professors showed me because I'd gotten used to being treated like scum. It really changed me - I went to university just to escape the Army and was the only person out of the whole class who became a teacher (I started part-time while still being a student - in a country where teaching is dubbed a "female" job).

    • How does the concept of "happiness" fit into "holistic education"?

    If we agree that "happiness" is bigger and more complex than "comfort" it's an unalienable part of being "whole".

    • How can you bring more holistic learning practices into your own life?

    If you understand learning as a life-long process, you just do it. Be more attentive to what's going on around you, communicate with people, read - even subway ads give you something to think about. I think that eLearning is a very good development and it has a big future.

    • What themes from this week's videos and/or readings really resonated with you?

    I liked what H. Gardner wrote about holistic ed and its components (intelligencies). But again, what comes first? Of course - literacy and numeracy - same ol' blues all over. But then he places musical intelligence and it kinda makes it up for it. I only wonder how people who don't "feel" music are gonna develop  it.

  • Anna   23 de junio de 2012 a las 02:39

    What does it mean to educate the whole person? Do you consider your definition to apply globally or within a specific community?

    To educate the “whole person” is to provide space, time and opportunity for individuals (and collectives) to discover, nourish and act upon the impulses of their minds, bodies, spirits, left brains, right brains, intuitions, rationality, academic capacities, intellects, athletic abilities, dreams, hopes and more. I believe this is a universal definition.

    What are the components of a holistic education? Feel free to share examples from "real life" education systems and places.

    A holistic education is one that educates the whole person (see response to previous question).

    To create and foster holistic education experiences, there must be a certain degree of “awareness” (about self, collective, environment, “what needs to happen in this moment”...), openness (to new ideas, ways of learning and doing, chaos, organic...) and flexibility in action and outcome.

    The current massively popular K-12 school paradigm (literacy/numeracy trumps all, reason over intuition, multiple choice testing, mass memorization of endless “facts”...) unfortunately is a very narrow conception of education. I think it will take “people outside of the system” to come in a re envision the process of education if we are ever to hope for more holistic systems at large.

    Last weekend I learned about the “eco cycle” (birth → growth → preservation → death/creative destruction → birth...). The industrial model of education is is “preservation mode”. But, as I travel the world, I meet people experimenting with other modes/processes of education that hold much promise in terms of fostering “holistic education experiences”. The question is not if current educational paradigm will be creatively destroyed, but rather when, how and by what? I hope the answers/outcomes will be in the interest of humanity/the universe at large. Perhaps we should do something about this :-)...

    To what extent was "finding your North star" (Martha Beck) or realizing your "flow" (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) emphasized in your own upbringing? How did this impact who you are today?

    In school - not at all.

    At home - my parents always said, you can do whatever you want to do, except for be a NFL star player (I am rather small). My parents fostered a home environment that was loving and that always made me feel important. My Dad often quoted Joseph Campbell, “follow your bliss”.

    That said, I was never explicitly taught about the concept of “finding my North Star” or taking the time to realize what makes me “flow”. Perhaps this is because I was never (or very rarely) exposed to people that were truly living in line their “North Star” (after all, it is hard to teach something that you don’t have any first hand experience with). Growing up in middle class suburbs of the highly politically correct Washington DC was (implicitly) about conforming to standards - making A’s in school, going to high school football games, being a Democrat or a Republican, being a major religion, playing it safe, preparing for a stable “J.O.B.” in the real world.

    It wasn’t until I moved to Dubai and started interacting with “the life coach” crowd and the "yogis", that I got exposed to these ideas. I started realizing, “Hey! I am the artist of my own life. I am a sculptor that can turn the substance of my life (clay) into anything. And, if I want to change the shape and structure of my life (sculpture) into something else, I can just pour water over the sculpture (“creative destruction” - see ecocycle reference above) and create something new (another beautiful sculpture constantly in transition).”

    How does the concept of "happiness" fit into "holistic education"?

    A holistic education provides a medium in which people can discover, nourish and act upon so many things. A truly holistic education is an invitation to each learner to find his/her happiness and to play with it.

    How can you bring more holistic learning practices into your own life?

    By taking more time and space for organic, unplanned activity. By tapping more into my intuitions and physical abilities.

    What themes from this week's videos and/or readings really resonated with you?

    • Beck - “When was the last time you ___ for fun?”
    • Csikszentmihalyi - “What contributes to a life worth living?”
    • Quote from Karen Kimsey-House’s blog:

    “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society which honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
    – Albert Einstein