Starting Your Holistic Studies and what this site can do for you
Namaste! – Welcome! – to everyone who is studying models of education or other professional practice models – formally or for personal interest – perhaps in order to discover and make clear their own model.
Above all this ‘start’ page raises some of the questions that need to be asked and answered if you are to articulate your own model of education.
This set of 5 WordPress sites now in corporate the earlier sites – SunWALK, Holistic Education Institute and Spirit of Holistic Education.
NBThe News and my blog is now In Part 1 as LATEST POSTINGS. Earlier sites are well on the way to being integrated.
Namaste – one beautiful interpretation: “I honour that place in you where the whole Universe resides. And when I am in that place in me and you are in that place in you, there is only one of us.”
Welcometo this new ‘Model of (Holistic) Education’ website!
Asked what his model of learning is Homer Simpson might say, in a moment of insight;
“Good stuff in – good stuff out: garbage in – garbage out!”
We might say; “Holistic Education is good Homer – like apple pie, community and motherhood.
Homer would probably say; “Apple pie mmmmmmmmm!”
Why not combine the best principles from the great educators? – Froebel, Montessori, Pestalozzi, Steiner etc.
We all have some sort of a model of what it is to be human, and of learning and teaching – just as we all have a view of how we and the world work – even if we haven’t yet expressed our views fully.
On what model are you managing your own learning – or the learning of your children or the other adults for whom you are responsible?
TASK: Build your own answer to this question – see * ‘Key questions’ list below. Later on take a look at the ‘framework’ for developing your model that I came up with – SEE diagram and ‘Summaries’.
Socrates, Rudolph Steiner, Maria Montessori, Froebel, Miller Ron, Miller Jack, Tobin Hart – these and many other contributed to answering the question, “What is education – holistic or less than holistic.”
Supported by students, friends and colleagues this site is about ‘key voices’ brought together, and the intellectual and spiritual treasure the key voices have provided on a personal journey about learning and teaching. If you are not happy with the state of learning and teaching perhaps there is something here for you.
Introduction & FAQs about the site
Q1. Who’s the site for?
The site is for parents, teachers, students of education and educational studies, youth leaders, health professionals – and, one might hope, politicians.
Essentially the site provides access to a vast array of resources along with a set of questions – through which you can build your own ‘better model of education’ – one that is more comprehensive, or holistic. (See Task * ‘Key questions’ list below)
NB The TASKS can be useful for independent students or for university teachers to use. Of course teaching and managing is the art of the possible and we are here trying to articulate the ideal – ‘aim for the stars’ – but be (temporarily) satisfied with something that fits within your (work) budget and circumstances!
Supervisors and managers, as well as teachers and lecturers, are responsible for the learning and development of those they lead and the ideas presented here also contribute to a new model of l leadership, management and personal development – but it is rooted in a model of education, which is itself rooted in a model of what it is to be human.
Q2 What do you provide?
We provide courses and lecture tours – most recently China – that are individually negotiated – & we provide the resource of the ideas and information on this site.
Q3 What’s on this site?
The site, which is in ‘continuous development’, presents two major resources plus a range of minor ones. Firstly there is description of the
course of 30 module-sessions which we teach. These are seen as vital, elements, principles & processes – essential to a model of learning based on the human spirit. These module-sessions, and the related questions that they seek to answer, are ‘building blocks’ for those who want to build their own better model of education, or better model of management or leadership.
You may not want to subscribe to a fully holistic model, or to my own model which I call SunWALK (check out ‘Summaries’ here in Part 1) but the list of modules raises those questions, the answering of which is seen as essential for creating a sustainable, holistic, model.
Identifying the right questions is seen as being just as vital as seeking answers.
The second resource is a Dictionary of Holistic Education (in rough draft). This provides illustrative quotations and sources for the elements, principles, processes & concepts necessary for a better model of education. (in continuous development).
Q4 Who provides your services?
The site is a service from the Holistic Education Institute research group – primarily Roger Prentice. The HEI exists to support those who study or work with a holistic perspective (sometimes called Integrated or Integral) in education or other forms of professional practice.
Q5 Which professionals might be interested?
The site exists for those lecturers, politicians and administrators who are tasked with building a better, (and preferably more holistic), model of education or of some other form of professional practice, including Education Studies, Teacher Education, management education, leadership education. It is also here for teachers and Head Teachers who consider that they are daily testing their own theory and practice, and who are seek continuous development. Clearly action research is vital for such a way of improving practice and theory – each through the other. The work of Jean McNiff, including An Introduction to Action Research can be a way in for the new student to combine theory-making with practice.
Parents and Parenting
The site is also here for parents through whose love, talk, task-setting and guidelines children grow – especially in those years prior to that point at which teachers become partners in the nurturing the child.
Q6 What do you mean by Balancing ‘overview knowing’ with ‘specialist knowing’
In today’s world specialization rules. Children and students are asked to specialize very early. It is much less common for a child, or teacher or manager, to get an opportunity to develop a coherent overview. This site is deliberately wide and general. What is here is what I would like to have been taught when I was at teacher education college. It is also what I would l like any teacher of my children or grand-children to know over and above specialised ‘technical’ knowledge of a science, arts or humanities ‘subject’. Here the ‘subject’ is being fully and positively human in the world with others’ – this provides the overview contexts for all the technical knowledge.
We believe that all teachers, and other professionals need a coherent overview of theoretical background of the various levels of context in which their specialism is situated. This inevitably means breadth rather than depth. Taking ‘self’ as an example we could make a simple definition such as ‘all that pertains to an individual’s sense of identity’ as sufficient, or we could go to such an introductory text as is here – selfhood.
However depth is also here. If you want to go more deeply into the nature of self read for example Charles Taylor, or listen to Michel Foucault giving a 1983 lecture at Berkeley entitled the Culture of Self. The main point is that the contextual general knowledge is as important as the text of specialism.
Next is presented an answer to the most central and challenging of questions – one that I only recently answered to my own satisfaction – What does it mean to practice or teach holistically?
Q7 What does it mean to practice or teach holistically? – Key statement
Today the terms ‘integral’ or integrative’ are increasing in popularity – particularly in relation to work inspired by the brilliant Ken Wilber. Some people prefer these terms to ‘holistic’ – perhaps seeing, quite rightly, that the latter term is used in all kinds of froth, nonsense and commercialism. By ‘holistic’ I usually mean what is including in ‘integral’ or integrative’. I prefer ‘holistic’ however for two reasons.
Firstly because there is the implication in ‘Integrated Education’ that the job is done, and the journey completed (somewhat lessened perhaps if the alternative ‘Integrative Education’ is used.)
Secondlyholistic also includes the idea that we encounter the mystery of the Whole, which some would call the mystical. For me, at the metaphorical level, ‘integrated’ is suggestive of ‘jigsaw’ or a mechanistic model against say the complexity of all of the systems in the human body, mind and spirit as a whole. ‘Integrated Education’ seems to imply that we know, ‘holistic’ and ‘Holistic Education’ here mean that we work with the ‘known and knowable’ AND the ‘unknown and unknowable’.
Q8 What is the difference between Holistic Education and Integral Studies?
Judged by the wonderful stuff here – take a look at these – not very much (?).
For an introduction to ‘Integral Science’ see here.
TASK:Starting with the above materials define for yourself the differences, and similarities, between Holistic Education and Integral Studies.
Q What then is the real difference between the ‘holistically minded teacher/practitioner’ and the ‘non holistically-minded teacher/practitioner’?
TASK: Before you read the ‘working definition’ answer I have come to, why not write down your own answer to ‘What does it mean to practice or teach holistically?’
After thinking about this for the last 14 years my best answer to date is that;
the holistically minded practitioner is trying to do each particular thing, theoretical and practical,
with consciousness of connections with, and between, all pertinent contexts – environmental
context, social justice context etc. – right up to and including some sense of the Whole.
The contexts at the intrapersonal level include the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. At the interpersonal level they include the social, the fraternal, the political, the economic etc. When we get to sensing the Whole we have to admit that we are united not by beliefs or principles that we hold in common but by realizing that we are all in a state of ‘not knowing,(which is why some religions consider that it is sacrilegious to name the un-nameable).
As Heschel teaches us (SEE his book Who is Man) standing before the Whole we can experience awe, wonder or ‘radical amazement, but we have to concede that conceptualization is pointlessly inadequate (however the inspiration from such experiences leads us to conceptual development). This is the spirit of Holistic practice and education. Consciousness of contexts and connections is the same as Wilber’s conversion of the ‘Great Chain of Being’ into his ‘great nest of holons’. This consciousness of the ‘nest of being’ (which sees reality as being like an onion or a Russian doll, each whole being part of a greater whole) need not be formally religious. On the other hand I take it to mean much the same as Buddhist friends seem to mean by ‘mindfulness’.
Maximizing consciousness of the dynamics between parts and wholes, between one kind of text and another, and between contexts and contexts are steps on the way to being holistic in practice development, and in teaching and learning.
Short version of our working definitionof what it means to practice holistically:
‘holization’ ,or progress in becoming more holistic, =
a) consciously realizing meaning-full connections between ever-widening contexts in our world-view,
b) generating insights using the dynamic of going back & forth between
i) ‘contemplative encounters’ with the ‘Whole’ and
ii) paying attention to particulars parts.
TASK:Critique my answer and decide on the arguments you would muster to defend your answer to
the question – What does it mean to practice or teach holistically?
Heschel, Wilber and Steinbeck:- three wonderful voices on the theme of the Whole and the parts –
“Concepts are delicious snacks with which we try to alleviate our amazement.” –
A. J. Heschel, Man Is Not Alone p.7
“To understand the whole it is necessary to understand the parts. To understand the parts, it is necessary to understand the whole. Such is the circle of understanding. We move from part to whole and back again, and in that dance of comprehension, in that amazing circle of understanding we come alive to meaning, to value, and to vision: the very circle of understanding guides our way, weaving together the pieces, healing the fractures, mending the torn and fractured fragments, lighting the way ahead – this extraordinary movement from part to whole and back again, with healing the hallmark of every step, and grace the tender reward.”
The Eye of Spirit; an integral vision for a world gone slightly madby Ken Wilber (1997) pub. Shambhala p.1
“Man is….related inextricably to all reality, known and unknowable….plankton, a shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time. It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.”
John Steinbeck The Log from the Sea of Cortez.
Stated even more briefly:
“Holistic practice involves – consciously connecting ever-widening contexts,and realizing encounters with the whole.”
‘Particular parts’ we study by what we pay attention to – formally organizing this process we call the sciences, the arts or the humanities. But we can best experience the whole through contemplation and silence. You can find more than 40 ways of contemplative practice at the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society The Center also gives account of a wide range of work-place research on using the contemplative. Their account of interim key findings is here.
The gist of the key statement is repeated in each section.
The position of this site is concerned with emphasizing the need for the contemplative to balance the active ‘head’ and ‘body’. (Balancing heart and head, right-brain and left-brain etc.) As such it is about the spirit of being human – it is not about the teachings of any particular faith community.
The spiritual is seen as the source of that which enables each of us to act with justice, truth, beauty and goodness. Whatever enables such action is good, whatever produces the opposite needs to be let go. The spiritual dimension of holistic education is being developed more fully in Part 2
*Some Key Questions to help in making explicit your own model of education(or professional practice) Next I present some key questions the answering of which seem necessary for any model, or form of practice, that wants to call itself holistic. In answering these questions you will have the first rough draft of your own model!
TASK:Write down a list of your answers to this question, ‘What’s wrong with education as it is?
TASK:Here are a set of questions that might help reveal to you the first draft of your own model! Feel free to do them in the order of your personal interest.
By all means work with a partner or group but in the end decide on what is your model – it will be a reflection of who you are, and what you stand for! Making your model clear to yourself is a help in doing things efficiently – including dealing with theory, such as research findings. You might want to develop a model that is ‘you’ and then a version for each particular project you are working in.
Questions for those seeking to make their professional practice more holistic:-
What do you see yourself as?
Animateur? Project manager? Educator? Writer?
In your world-view or your model for what it is that you do:
Are we doing too much and thinking too little? Or vice versa?
What does ‘holistic’ mean?
What does holistic mean in holistic professional practice?
What is knowledge?
How do you get to grow in knowledge?
How do you go about helping others grow in knowledge?
How does your system suggest we deal with fundamentalism?
What processes should we be using?
What should be the core learning process? Etc. etc.
TASK:Make up your own set of questions (or use some of mine) – individually or as a group – the criterion for the inclusion of a question is, ‘Is this question helping us make clearer our model? This is an adapted version of the questions I used to discover my own model and make clear its ‘design criteria’:
1 How might you name the model, given its purpose? (It might be useful to answer this question after you have answered all of the others.)
2 As a model for whom is it constructed – learner, teacher, administrator? etc
3 In what sense/s can (ought? might?) a pedagogical model be spiritualizing?
4 Who (and what and why) is at the centre of your pedagogy?
5 What do we understand by being human & is that a good foundation for educational modeling?
6 What is (true/higher-order/transformative) education?
7 How, and in what ways, can storying figure in your model? How can you use your own story, or the stories of those you teach?
8 What kinds of development will you be looking for that aren’t easily measured?
9 How central is meaning and the making of meaning to your model?
10 How and it what ways does the construction of meaning figure in your model?
11 How and it what ways does the de-construction of meaning figure in your model?
12 How and it what ways does your model cater for the physical dimension of education?
13 How is mind (the psychological) seen in your model?
14 How does your model cater for spiritual development in a state/multi-faith school?
15 Where is wisdom cultivated and used in your model?
16 How do you account for will and motivation in your model?
17 How and it what ways do you account for the experiential in your model?
18 Does love have a place in a professional model? How and in what ways?
19 What is meant by knowledge and knowing in your model?
20 What does community mean in your model? How many communities are your learners involved in?
21 How does dialogue feature in your model?
22 In how many ways and levels does caring feature in your model?
23 In how many ways and levels does creativity feature in your model?
24 In how many ways and levels does criticality feature in your model?
25 What key processes for the 3Cs (22, 23, 24 above) feature in your model?
26 How do you bring in, in your model, spiritual sources as the generator of positive action?
27 What higher-order values underpin your general approach to your model?
28 What are you beliefs – your world-view (or cosmology or theology)?
29 What are your views regarding excellence in content? Give some specific instances?
30 In Holistic Education what is it that makes of the parts a whole? – SEE above Key Statement!
SEE also the SunWALK diagram and summaries.
To these questions we might add the general questions of
What exactly is being proposed?
Why is it being proposed?
Who gains and who loses?
Who is paying and why?
Which principles and interests might be incompatible?
TASK:I suggest you go through the questions and your responses to them at least twice.
How does each answer relate to the other answers you’ve given? Can you improve the coherence of the answers you’ve given?
TASK:How do your answers relate to your own learning history and ‘key episodes’? (You may find writing your auto biography, at least of significant learning episodes,
is a revelation!).
TASK:Of course you should think up your own better or additional questions.
TASK:How will you represent the model so as to communicate it to others – 2d or 3d diagram or what? SEE my own diagram SunWALK diagram. When you are reasonably satisfied with the first attempt at your model have a look at the SunWALK model and see if it stimulates further thinking and refinement for you.
Definition & fundamental principles of the SunWALK model
As an example of the kind of model that can be constructed, from elements identified and selected, I next include a short version of ‘SunWALK’, the model that was the subject of my doctoral dissertation. It can be applied to personal development, management and leadership as well as to education.
The definition, or one-sentence version, of the SunWALK model of education goes thus:
The SunWALK model of spiritualizing pedagogy sees human education as; the storied development
of meaning, which is constructed, and de-constructed, physically, mentally and spiritually, through
Wise and Willing Action, via Loving and Knowing – developed in Community, through the ‘Dialectical
Spiritualization’ of Caring, Creativity and Criticality processes, all undertaken in the light of the ‘Sun’
of chosen higher-order values and beliefs, using best available, appropriate content.
This one-sentence version is a distillation of the 80,000+ words of the thesis. It combines the main ‘concept-elements’ with which my model was built – in response primarily to my critique of Western, particularly UK education.
Dis-assembling the one-sentence version of the SunWALK model to provide a list of ‘concept-elements’
Next here are ‘concept-elements’ that I used presented as a ‘dis-assembled’ list. They correspond (roughly) to the questions above and to the 30 modules of our course/s, and proposed courses.
The 30 concept-elements of the SunWALK model presented as a ‘single sentence’ description:
1 The SunWALK
2 model of
4 pedagogy sees
6 education as; the
8 development of
9 meaning, which is
10 constructed, and
13 mentally and
14 spiritually, through
15 Wise and
17 Action, via
18 Loving and
19 Knowing – developed in
20 Community, through the
21 ‘Dialectical Spiritualization’ of
23 Creativity and
25 processes, all undertaken in the
26 light of the ‘Sun’ of chosen
27 higher-order values and
28 beliefs, using best available,
29 appropriate content.
30 What is it that makes of the parts a whole? (see KEY STATEMENT above)
This ‘one-sentence’ version of my model contains what for me were the most important concept-elements – caring, creativity, criticality etc. SEE summaries. However for use by others I have put the concept-elements into a more appropriate list – this is the set of 30 course modules. This makes for a better list for others to use to build their own model – of being human and of teaching and learning and professional practice in general.
The concept-elements as course module-sessions for others to study and re-arrange into their own model:
01 Overview Lecture (In SW see also summary versions of model)
1 CHANGE: What’s Wrong With Education as It Is?
2 HUMAN-NESS: The Human Spirit and the Spirit of Being Human
3 CARING: The Spirit Of Caring In (Holistic) Education
4 CREATIVITY: The Spirit Of Creativity In (Holistic) Education
5 CRITICALITY: The Spirit Of Criticality In (Holistic) Education
6 COMMUNITY: Community, Culture and Content in (Holistic) Education
7 MORAL EDUCATION: Moral Education – A (Holistic) Perspective
8 DIALOGUE: Dialogue and Dialogic Processes in (Holistic) Education
9 CONSCIOUSNESS: Evolving Consciousness of Greater Contexts & others ways of framing
‘holization’ + awe and wonder’
10 BALANCING DUALITIES:
11 INSPIRATION: The Spiritual as Sources of Inspiration in Being and Becoming Human
12 CONTENT: The Arts, Sciences , Humanities and Philosophy in (Holistic) Education
13 RELATIONSHIPS: IDENTIFICATION: Empathy, Compassion, in Education of the Human Spirit
14 TEXTS and CONTEXTS: Texts and Contexts – the core dynamic in (Holistic) Education
15 MEANING: Meaning, Metaphor and Truth in (Holistic) Education
16 KNOWLEDGE: Knowing, Knowledge and the Unknowable in (Holistic) Education
17 PEDAGOGY: Spiritualizing Pedagogy in (Holistic) Education
18 WISDOM: Wisdom as an essential quality in (Holistic) Education
19 LEARNING and TEACHING: The Spirit Of Learning And Teaching In (Holistic) Education
20 VALUES & VIRTUES: Values & Virtues as well as awe and wonder;
21 CURRICULUM: Developing abilities in a Dynamic Curriculum in (Holistic) Education
22 STAKEHOLDER RELATIONSHIPS: Authority, Empowerment & Consultation – Balancing
interests of all Stakeholders in (Holistic) Ed
23 DEEPER SEARCHING: A deeper look at ‘What is Holistic Education’ – starting with Parker
Palmer, Abraham J Heschel & Ken Wilber
24 WILL: Will, Motivation and Leadership in (Holistic) Ed
25 BODY MATTERS: The physical dimension in Holistic Education – inc the New Circus as
metaphor for teamwork & embodiment in H Ed
26 STORY: Story in Holistic Education – including Maths and Science
27 MODELS & METHODS: Model-making and Methodologies
28 ACTION: Action, Activism and Behaviours – The WALK in SunWALK
29 BELIEFS: Beliefs and World-views
30 LEADERSHIP: Leadership and management
In this set of WordPress sites I am trying to pin-down;
a) the essence or spirit of the concept-element, within a holistic model of education
b) the relationships between one concept-element, in a holistic model, & one or more other
c) between a concept-element and experience of the Whole
This can never be done fully and yes it is subjective, but I want to encourage this work as an art-heart-subjective counterbalance to ‘science’ (often scientism) as the overwhelmingly dominant way of knowing, and as an alternative to the shallow superficiality that today passes for educational thinking. It is of course an attempt to re-root educational discourse in a humanistic philosophy and perennial philosophy.
TASKS:– In summary the methodological approach is:
1 From your heart, head and experience decide on your concept-elements (the parts and process
for your model)
2 Order the concept-elements so that they feel true to your values and experience..
3 Express your model is some form of diagram. Dialogue it with others.
4 Continually go back and forth between your work practice and your developing of your model.
5 Continually go back and forth between your theory and ‘public’ theory i.e. other peoples work
published in written form.
Your model is the means to deepening professional fulfilment. I.e. Practice your model in your daily work and model your practice in your studies – practice your model and model your practice. The vast range of other materials accessed on, or through, this website are all here to support these few key steps in realizing your own model of education/professional practice.
Now dive in – and go deep!
SunWALK is my personal answer to the set of questions presented throughout this site. It was the model that felt true to me, after many years of experience in education. It uses many of the building-blocks, or inspirations and concept-elements, that are presented here, with which you can articulate your own model of (holistic) learning and development. Most importantly the site, in addition to a vast range of resources, provides the questions that you (must?) answer in order to justify calling yourself holistic!
The shortest summary of my own work to date is;
The SunWALK model of spiritualizing (or humanizing) pedagogy sees holistic human education as:
capabilities derived from the storied development of meaning, which is constructed, and
de-constructed, physically mentally and spiritually, through Wise & Willing Action, via Loving and
Knowing – developed in Community, through the ‘Dialectical Spiritualization’ of Caring, Creativity
& Criticality discourses, all undertaken in the light of the ‘Sun’ of chosen higher-order values and
beliefs, using best available, appropriate content.
SunWALK includes a range of sub-models, not all of which are as yet fully developed. This range of
What it is to be human
Community – including cultural, social and
Duality and singleness
The working of texts and contexts
Knowledge & knowing
Values and virtues in human development
Will and motivation
The physical dimension
Story and storying
Models and modeling
Action and the experiential and service learning
Beliefs and world-views
Leadership and management
TASK:As you gradually articulate your model decide on the sub-models you want your model to include and the order in which you will develop them (and of course how they fit in).
Now go deeper – bon voyage and please share your good thoughts with me!
Course and Site Developer:Dr Roger Prentice (the photographer)
Dr Geoff Taggart
Dr Lixian Jin
Professor Martin Cortazzi
Panel of Advisors:
Dr Iraj Ayman
Professor Suheil Bushrui
Dr Ben Pink Dandelion
Professor Jack Miller
Dr Ron Miller
Professor Bernie Neville
Sue and Roger Stack
Site contents, except where otherwise attributed, © Roger Prentice
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Dr Roger Prentice
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