Future Schools and Holistic Education as the Practice of
Freedom for Growth through Learning
A Scientific* Rationale for Holistic Education (*in the sense of holistic science)
What is a paradigm?
The true aim of education is happiness not in terms of material success but in terms of a harmonious, ethical and productive life. "The highest function of education is to bring about an integrated individual who is capable of dealing with life as a whole." (J.Krishnamurti)
A Holistic Vision: Holistic education for the humanisation of society represents hope for humanity. The human species is a social species which depends for social adaptability and survival on social responsibility, a function of complete psychological and moral or 'spiritual' development as development of moral consciousness or 'conscience', the 'human spirit'.
Humankind with its collective egoic mind resulting in collective psychopathology or 'psychosis' makes it a threat to its own survival. Why is this? As a result of human egotism perception is distorted and distorted perception translates into limited understanding which prevents the creation of effective solutions to human problems. The fault lies with education which is inadequate when it fails to respect children's developmental needs and so deprives them of the conditions of personal freedom required to engage the natural process of construction of conscience. Mature rational conscience is the basis for moral responsibility and spiritual insight or 'intuition' of creative intelligence which is required for perception which is accurate because it is holistic. Holistic perception is the basis for the correct evaluation as fundamental to effective decision making which leads to creative and adaptive social behaviour and the ubsequent resolution of human problems.
The problem is that when human development is arrested at the egocentric or 'egoic' level of consciousness the result is immature or 'neurotic' growth and development of 'immaturity'. The problem can be resolved with education for complete human psychological and moral or 'spiritual' development. This is education which offers conditions of freedom... freedom from fear and conflict ... freedom based on love without conditions or unconditional love... freedom of thought. Spiritual freedom is necessary for complete development of 'conscience'. Development of rational conscience is a function of ego-transcendence, the basis for creative and therefore adaptive socialization. Education which cultivates the natural development of rational conscience is education which facilitates development of the person as a whole i.e. 'holistic education' is based on the understanding of the spiritual nature of the human personality or 'human nature'. Holistic education is education for humanisation because it involves the practice of freedom for growth through learning which is meaningful because it engages the learner's instinctive sense of responsibility for their own complete human development. When children are allowed to engage their intrinsic motivation they are empowered to become fully humanised adults able to create humane societies in which people respect others on the basis of respect for their own humanity.
"The most dangerous members of our society are those grownups whose powers of influence are adult but whose motives and responses are infantile." ( H.A. Overstreet. The Mature Mind. 1949)
The basic right of the human being is the right to be responsible to the instinctive drive for complete human development... humanization or 'humanness'. Holistic education is socially responsible because it empowers the individual to be responsible to themselves for the fulfillment of their potential. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights"Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and human freedoms."
"It is not possible to have a truly meaningful education for the 'humanisation' of society without the scientific recognition of the intrinsic nature and value of what it is to be human." (Gerald Karnow, Educating the Whole Person for the Whole of Life, Holistic Education Review vol. 5 no.1: 64)
So what is it to be 'human'? The human species is a social species, the human organism is a social organism, the human brain is a social brain and the human personality or 'human nature' is a social nature with social intelligence as a function of moral knowledge... developed moral faculty... moral consciousness or conscience (the 'human spirit'). Mature rational conscience is required for a life of freedom as inner moral or 'spiritual' freedom which is fundamental to complete humanisation required for effective socialization. Human nature is a function of moral or 'spiritual' development which cultivates spiritual insight or 'intuition' required for accurate social evaluation and social adaptation which is effective because it is creative. Creative, productive and adaptive social behaviour depends on a developed system of moral values... metavalues or 'spiritual' values of truth, beauty, justice, loving-kindness or 'compassion'. These are the biological operative values or 'virtues' which enable the individual to relate to others, to initiate understanding and to create amicable relations within the social group. Social development is a function of auto-construction of moral consciousness or rational conscience... an emergent property of brain functioning which involves complete cognition resulting from development of the brain's intrinsic capacity for perception of the reality as a whole or 'holistic perception'. Holistic perception is a function of complete psychological development or 'maturity' upon which our species adaptability and survival ultimately depends. If during childhood conditions of fear and insecurity predominate, human moral or 'spiritual' development is arrested at the egocentric level of consciousness and motivation is driven by the ego-needs for security and self-esteem. Frustration of growth needs results in the inhibition of normal human development and the state of arrested development and psychological immaturity is characterised by a fear based resistance to the present moment, dichotomous and dualistic perception of the social reality ('you' versus 'me') which leads to incomplete cognition, limited understanding, conflict and destruction.
Dysfunctional growth and development or 'neurosis' results in the auto-construction of authoritarian conscience which is inadequate for full understanding and effective adaptation.The limited perception of human egotism ultimately translates into the inability to resolve critical human problems. If immature individuals who are in positions of power over others have not yet reached the appropriate level of understanding, they will make decisions which lead to misinterpretation, misunderstanding, conflict, destruction, war and other manifestations of human wickedness or so-called 'evil'. Evil human behavior results from the crippling effect of insecurity and low self-esteem... Human behaviour becomes evil only if the proper conditions for growth and development are lacking... evil results from the failure to realize life...failure to realize human potential or 'self-realization' ('self-actualization'). Evil is derived from the social disorder of disordered societies. Adults whose natural developmental needs are suppressed by social conditioning are not spiritually developed and do not reach maturity. They operate with distorted value systems and unbalanced thought patterns. The resulting dysfunctional modes of behaviour contradict the interests of their own humanity, the humanity of their children and the humanity of the rest of humankind. Much of recorded human history involves power politics and power struggles involving the irrational reactions and responses of immature adults who hold mature adult positions and play mature adult social roles. Those considered to be 'evil' are really just retarded to some degree and are not healthy specimens of the species. Since their development has been arrested at the ego level of consciousness, they are not fully human and suffer from the problem of distorted perception... 'perception problem'... perceiving the mature and intelligent people as a threat to their ego demands. They defend themselves with psycholoical defense mechanisms and try to adapt to social change using trial and error coping mechanisms which lead to misunderstanding and conflict. Their influence can be deadly if it is combined with authoritarianism and dominance; they hold onto power because people choose to remain ignorant of the social reality. What is needed is the education for pursuit of the true knowledge of reality or 'truth'.
"A mature truth told to immature minds ceases, in those minds, to be that same mature truth. Immature minds take from it only what immature minds can assimilate. In the end, even though they may give it lip-service and may raise institutions in its name, they turn the mature truth into an applied immaturity. This fate of psychological depreciation has been the fate of all our greatest human truths. Uttered by mature minds, and for the puprose of maturing minds, they have been received, for the most part, by less mature minds - and have thus been only partially comprehended. Being only partially comprehended, they have found expression in ways that have perpetuated as much misunderstanding as understanding, as much error as truth". (Overstreet, H.A. The Mature Mind. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Inc. 1949. p. 88)
There is urgent need for positive social transformation through individual evolution as spiritual development of consciousness from the basic egocentric level to the higher levels of morality... or 'spirituality'. Human spirituality is the 'creative spirit' or 'life force' which emerges with the development of conscience and is thus a function of the natural organic growth process which generates the unfolding of the human personality and guides human evolution. In order to transform our world, we need to recognize and respect human developmental needs, to honour our children and offer them an education which provides them with the conditions of freedom which they need to engage their instinctive motivational needs for growth through learning... the natural process of construction of mature and rational 'conscience' which is a function of complete psychological development, to cultivate their potential for complete humanness, to develop into complete human beings... 'self-actualisation'. Education which aims for children's self-actualisation... 'holistic education'... enables them to become responsible socially balanced adults with attributes of moral intelligence and the wisdom of compassion which is required for creative and effective social adaptability. Today there is a fundamental shift away from the traditional paradigm of education based on the belief that children have to be 'taught' the human values required for social adaptability... a shift towards the new 'holistic' paradigm of education which is based on the understanding that human values are instinctive and therefore biologically based. Holistic education is based on understanding and respect for children's psychological needs, their moral or 'spiritual' needs... the 'metaneeds'... as well as their 'ego needs' for security and self-esteem.
"To save us from ourselves we need to give up our attachment to the cultural beliefs which hold back our evolution and surrender to the urgent call of the life force. “ (Ron Miller. Holistic Education: A Response to the Crisis of Our Times)
Human adaptability and survival depend on curiosity of inquiry and the accurate perception of reality as a whole or 'holistic reality' Accuracy of perception is a function of the extent to which one develops beyond the limitations of the ego and its egocentric mode of irrational thought and behaviour patterns. Consequently we can bring about the much needed positive change through individual and collective transcendance beyond ego i.e. 'self-transcendence'. Self-transcendence is a function of the capacity to transcend one's mind made self and relate to one's fellow human beings by connecting to their human core, their humanity or essence through the instinctive emotion of unconditional love which is the power by which we can transform the world. With self-transcendence we are be able to experience unconditional love and so engage in relationship based on the accurate evaluation of self, the 'other' and the world. We need education for cultivation of creative intelligence and empathy required for effective human adaptability... education for complete human development (development of the brain/mind) ie. 'whole person education' or 'holistic education'.
"...It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiostiy of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to rack and ruin without fail." Einstein
Holistic education cultivates complete human growth, including development of the transpersonal or 'spiritual' dimension of human nature. The word 'transpersonal' from Latin ‘trans’ (beyond and through) and ‘persona’ (mask or personality) means 'through or beyond the personality'... beyond the 'ego level' or existential level of consciousness.. beyond the egoic personality.The goal for the individual is to attain a transpersonal perspective which enables them to discover knowledge of the total self... their own true nature, their essential humanness or 'essence', their human core, their their human personality, their 'human nature'... their connectedness with fellow beings and with nature.The 'awakened' individual is liberated from identification with the ego, transcends the ego level of consciousness and enters the transpersonal realm. In this context it is the responsibility of the educator to facilitate learning in such a way that the individual can perceive the social, political, and economic contradictions in their social environment... in order to be able to think critically, intelligently and effectively and so resolve their human problems and take appropriate action against the oppressive elements in their social environment.
"The greatest danger lies in our ignorance. We know how to find pearls in the shells of oysters, gold in the mountains and coal in the bowels of the earth, but we are unaware of the spiritual germs, the creative nebulae that the child hides in himself when he enters our world to renew mankind." (Maria Montessori The Asorbent Mind 240)
Holistic education is based on awe and reverence for the inner life of the growing person. The aim of human growth is optimal human development and the fulfillment of the power of moral responsibility or 'self-empowerment'... a function of individual freedom to engage in positive and meaningful learning experiences... to accomplish natural educational goals of human excellence... involving creativity and productiveness or 'work'... has psychological value... when it engages moral or spiritual’ development enabled by the conditions of freedom which are required for personality integration or 'integrity' and integration with one's environment. Holistic education is 'responsible education'... a pedagogy of liberation or 'freedom' in the sense that it implies social responsibility... so 'responsible freedom'. The end result of a pedagogy of freedom is the full humanisation of the individual and the society. Holistic education is education for a culture of for development of morality or 'spirituality' as the foundation for peace, community and true democracy, sustainablity... are only possible with the complete development of the uniquely human feature which is the moral or 'spiritual' faculty. Human morality or 'spirituality' enables the individual to be concerned... have empathy... for the welfare of fellow human beings and promotes the cooperation required for survival of the species as a social species. Of primary importance is the need for freedomunconditional love which is prerequisite for normal growth and development... freedom to the development of character as responsibility to oneself for the cultivation of wisdom of intuitive understanding or 'social intelligence' Social intelligence is a functi... on of moral or spiritual development.
"The future happiness of humankind depends on the universal understanding of human nature in terms of human needs for complete human development." (Abraham Maslow)
The recognition of the psychological value of work in human psychological development is the basis for the organization of schools for humanity.
The continued evolution of humanity depends on complete development of moral consciousness or 'conscience' as the human spirit and depends on the spiritual development of human individuals and the societies which they create. Humane individuals create humane societies. We need toour collective human problems, social and political, in terms of education. We must trust ourselves to trust children as learners who have an instinctive responsibility to themselves and their growth through learning. They must be trusted with independent study, with challenges, with problems to solve and with appropriate social responsibilities. They will respect the understanding teacher and will respond to respect for their humanity, their intelligence and their natural sense of responsibility to themselves, to their community and to their world. The dysfunctional relationship with oneself and the other leads to irrational fears which translate into the fear based emotions and attitudes which prevent authentic relationship and complete cognition necessary for empathic understanding of the social reality. Inauthentic relationship and incomplete cognition are not only non-adaptive but can be destructive enough to lead to unbalanced behaviour and human wickedness or 'evil' .
Those we consider 'evil' are really just retarded in the sense that they are not fully human... their moral development has been arrested and they are not healthy specimens of the species. They hold on to power because they lack the sense of empowerment which is derived from intuitive intelligence. Their disempowerment manifests as thfe psychopathology of wickedness which can have a deadly influence if it is combined with authoritarianism and dominance... the result of undeveloped irrational conscience originating in the deprivation of unconditional love which communicates security necessary for spiritual growth as development of rational conscience. In this, way loveless environments contradict the interests of humanity and hinder its capacity for adaptation to changing social conditions i.e. its 'adaptability'. Human adaptability depends on self-empowerment as a function of moral consciousness or 'morality' of 'creative intelligence'... accurate evaluation and decision-making as a function of the knowledge of reality as complete and true knowledge or 'truth'. Human truth-finding activity or 'science' is activated by instinctive motivation for comprehension... 'curiosity'... of the workings of the environment required for effective adaptation.
"If life's tendency to grow, to be lived, is thwarted, the energy thus blocked undergoes a process of change and is transformed into life-destructive energy. Destructiveness is the outcome of unlived life. Those individual and social conditions which make for the blocking of life-furtheriing energy produce destructiveness which in turn is the source from which the various manifestations of evil spring." (Fromm Man For Himself )
A question often asked by critics of holistic education: Does holistic education prepare students for today’s world? The individual in the modern technological society must be acquainted with an increasing amount of objective knowledge and so must be able to make responsible decisions for himself in order to survive and adapt to the demands of the society. Most of our individual problems and our our collective ... our human problems... result from the lack of moral intelligence which derives from over emphasis on competition involving collaboration which is immoral, unintelligent, irresponsible and therefore destructive. Such inadaptive competition is characteristic of the egocentric level of human consciousness and its desire to protect its own self interests. Egocentric and immoral or 'unethical' competitiveness cannot be the way to resolve the problems which it created in the first place. The way to solve our collective human problems is through competition involving collaboration which is intelligent, responsible, creative and therefore adaptive because it is moral or 'ethical'. Ethical competition is characteristic of the moral or ‘spiritual’ level of human consiousness and its concern for the welfare of others. For this reason, our survival and continued evolution depends on the choice of philosophical paradigm which underlies the education which we offer to our children. We need to implement an educational philosophy which is creative and therefore adaptive because it is based on the need to respect the spiritual nature of the human personality or 'human nature'... to cultivate moral intelligence of moral consciousness or ‘conscience’. Morality of creative intelligence is a function of the complete development of the personality based on cultivation of the person’s human potential. Therefore the need for subjective development must be acknowledged, respected and prioritized in the social institutions (family, school etc) which are responsible for our childrens' education. Children should be free to make their learning 'personal' within an adult constructed curriculum. They should be allowed to develop the learning skills and mental powers which they need for creative and therefore effective adaptation to ever-changing social conditions. So ‘yes’, holistic education does prepare students for today’s world. Of paramount importance is the role of the teacher as 'facilitator of learning'. As facilitator the teacher is effective if being a person of integrity with certzin attitudinal qualities or 'attributes'.
"Unfortunately in this era of malice and greed, teaching requires a moral courage that is tragically unfashionable and widely ridiculed." (John Gatto)
Interactive Book: A Scientific Rationale for Holistic Education
Capetown Open Education Declaration http://www.capetowndeclaration.org/read-the-declaration
Four Winds: Renewing Education and Community http://www.fourwindsgreatbarrington.org/contact.htm
Global Alliance for Transforming Education www.ties-edu.org
European Democratic Education Community www.eudec.org
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
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