Do holistic thinkers belong in Christian education?
Holistic thinkers focus on the big picture. Education, however, often focuses on the details of subject matter and how well a child has learned a specific skill. Because Christian education often prides itself in high academics, it sometimes finds itself in disagreement with the whole child approach. Therefore, a clear understanding of the definition is important.
Definition of Holistic Education
Holistic education is an approach that teaches the whole child. The physical, ethical, social/emotional, and academic development is taught through integrated subjects.
What is Holistic Education?
According to Wikipedia,
“Holistic education is a relatively new movement in education that seeks to engage all aspects of the learner, including mind, body, and spirit. Its philosophy, which is also identified as holistic learning theory, is based on the premise that each person finds identity, meaning, and purpose in life through connections to their local community, to the natural world, and to humanitarian values such as compassion and peace”.
If you read the entire article, you will find that some make a connection of holistic thinking to evolution and socialism.
Evolution and Socialism? I know, I know, … if you’re a part of a Christian educational system, you’ve read those two connections and immediately thought “Nope, not for me.” But, before you stop reading and consider me misguided or unholy, first consider what holistic thinking actually is. Once you do, I believe you’ll agree that Christian education should agree with aspects of holistic thinking.
Jesus and Holistic Thinkers
I believe that Jesus, himself, is a holistic thinker. He was concerned about every aspect of our development. After all, He told us to love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Matt. 22:37; Luke 10:27). We also read that Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). These verses tell us that physical, spiritual, social, and academic growth are important. Therefore, they should be very important in Christian education!
The Perfect Model for a Holistic Thinkers in Christian Education
We’ve made the perfect model to follow. This method helps teachers, parents, and students understand why physical, spiritual, and social growth are as important as academic growth. After using this model in a Christian school, some of the teachers and parents were concerned that our academic results on standardized tests would fall. However, the exact opposite happened. The stakeholders discovered that when we emphasized spiritual and social growth, the academic grew stronger and more consistently. It all makes sense when you consider the six developments to producing the fruit of the Spirit. These six steps can be grouped into the areas of physical, spiritual, social, and academic growth.
Holistic Growth Model
- Physical Growth helps students to know who they are in Christ. Furthermore, they learn to appreciate their uniqueness.
- the potter creates a vessel
- Spiritual Growth allows students to humbly receive the Word of God
- The vessel is filled with humus. Humus is good soil and represents humility
- A seed is planted. The seed represents God’s Word.
- Social Growth emphasizes the student’s integrity and relationships
- A straight, upright stem grows (representing our integrity)
- Likewise, leaves form to begin the process of photosynthesis, making food for the plant with light. Relationships give us the light of Christ.
- Knowledge is bloomed through academic growth.
- A flower blooms to pollinate the plant. It attracts insects, just as the knowledge we bloom attracts others and reproduces new ideas. Flowers bloom at different seasons and rates. We bloom knowledge at different times also.
- Fruit is produced.
- Once the vessel contains humus soil, has seeds planted, grows a stem and leaves, and blooms a flower, it can produce fruit. Likewise, when we humbly plant God’s Word (spiritual growth), stem integrity, leaf relationships (social growth), and bloom knowledge (academic growth), we produce the fruit of the Spirit.
Jesus knew that it takes all areas of growth to become a fruit-bearing vessel. Therefore, Christian education should use the whole child approach and promote holistic thinkers!
Download a FREE copy of the model here.
If you want to read more on this topic, check out the Helpful Professor.