Holistic Learning


         Students learn in many different ways. We can not expect every student to retain information and grasp concepts the same way as their peers. We should be teaching in a student based learning environment in which each student has the opportunity to learn in the manner that works best for them individually. Ideally we should be giving every student a setting that allows them to learn in many different ways. In the book, “A New Culture of Learning”, Douglas Thomas (2011) says that we need to find a way to integrate play into our classroom.

I agree that if our students could learn in a way that they did when they were children they would retain more information and learning would be fun for them.

Therefore they would want to learn. Learning does not have to be torturous to our students, there is no reason to stand in front of our class and lecture all day, every day. Thomas (2011) states that learning goes far beyond a simple transfer of information from teacher to student. This generation of students require more hands on work than past generations. They want immediate results and feedback. Our students accept and utilize technology in ways that we never have before. Technology is fun to them, it is part of their everyday life. We have to embrace this and use it to benefit our students. We have to utilize everything we have access to so we can create a fun, comfortable, productive learning environment for our students.  

          I am going to shift to a more holistic learning environment than I currently have. Ron Miller (2012) says that when educators take a holistic approach to teaching they pay attention to children’s physical, personal, social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing as well as cognitive aspects of learning.Image result for holistic learningWe have to incorporate all of this into our teaching paradigm if we want our students to achieve their full potential. I also think having the students use every tool they have access to inside and outside the classroom to learn is holistic. I try to make available to my students everything we have access to now, but I see room for improvement.

          One problem that I have with adjusting my teaching techniques to be more student centered and holistic is the size of my classes. My classes are overloaded and I currently do not have space to set my room up how I want to give the students a comfortable atmosphere and adequate space to work in. This is something that I am working on and hopefully I can figure out a way to have different areas for for different students to work in while they are working on their projects. Another problem that I foresee is me being able to step back and let them thrive. Oftentimes I step in and help them more than I should just because I am so passionate about art and I want them to succeed. After reading “A New Culture of Learning” and watching the video “Creating Significant Learning Environments” I have come to the conclusion that my students will probably have better results and their artwork will definitely be more individualized if I pull back and let them solve their own problems.  

          I always try to take into consideration my students needs and personalize my projects to fulfill their needs the best I can.

I have witnessed in my class that individualized learning is more effective than having all the students do everything the same way.

For example, I give my students an art project. After I explain what they are to do and the supplies needed I let them pair up on the computers or use their phones to look at examples of what other artists have done to spark an idea in them. This is implementing student centered learning because I am letting them use their imagination to solve a problem. Learning is dynamic, each student has their own way of learning. It is very difficult to meet each students needs, especially if we just stand in front of the class and spew out information.

          I like the idea of embracing what we don’t know and finding ways to learn it. Holistic teaching will start this process of solving problems in an individualized way while using all resources available.

This teaching style urges the student to use every tool they have or can access inside and outside the classroom to learn.

I use this method of teaching in my room currently, but probably not as much as I should. Douglas Thomas says that a fundamental ingredient of learning is play. We should allow our students to learn as they did as young children. I agree that children learn better when given different ways of learning such as small groups and learning centers while the teacher monitors. This is how my robotics class operates. The students have a problem for their robot to solve, it is up to them to choose how to do it and build the robot. I’m a facilitator in that class, I’m there to answer questions and oversee everyone. They are learning own their own how to solve problems. 

           Switching to a more holistic approach to teaching is going to improve my innovation plan for my students. I am going to implement an innovation in my classroom by having each of my Art I students create an e-portfolio.  My innovation plan is going to help both my students and myself keep up with their progress, their growth, and most of all give them an avenue to have their artwork viewed. Giving them more freedom and flexibility to create their artwork and solve problems will personalize their e-portfolios more. My students will learn more and be prouder of their final pieces of art if they have came up with a way to solve their problems on their own instead of me leading them step by step through every process. I will be there for them when they find something they can’t solve or need advice on how to do something, but they are going to take more responsibility of their work.

Thomas (2011) says that  “Change motivates and challenges. But most of all, change forces us to learn differently” (pg.43). 

Both my students and myself have to embrace the changes that are happening now and be able to adjust in the future.

Making changes in how we do things is hard. A lot of times we don’t want to change anything because we think the way we are doing things is the right or best way. Stepping out of our comfort zone and trying something new is what drives us forward. We become stagnant if we never implement change. I think a stagnant teacher can harm a student ability to learn because they see that we are not trying to try new things or creating change.      



Dwayne Harapnuik

Creating Significant Learning Environments (CLSE)


Hyder, I. (2013, March 18). Learning and Life: Subject Compartmentalization vs Holistic Learning: How to align with natural process of learning of a child. Retrieved from http://syedirfanhyder.blogspot.com/2013/03/holistic-learning-and-whole-life.html

Miller, R. (2012, March 4). Exploring Holistic Approaches for Early Childhood Educators – Raise Learning – Early childhood services (inc. LIFT, planning for the EYLF and the National Quality Standards). Retrieved from http://www.raiselearning.com.au/blogs/news/5818384-exploring-holistic-approaches-for-early-childhood-educators

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY. Author.


One thought on “Holistic Learning

  1. Pingback: Bringing it All Together | Technology in art

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