Holistic Education for the Responsibility of Freedom as Self-empowerment: A Scientific*Rationale

                                                                                       (*in the sense of 'holistic science')


theme: There is a need for change in the philosophical framework or ‘paradigm’ in which we educate the generation which follows us… hence the title ‘holistic education as a new teaching paradigm.’ The word ‘education’ is derived from its Latin root ‘e’ out ‘ducare’ to lead, so ‘educare’ to lead out or bring forth that which is within.

The traditional behavioural paradigm with its emphasis on methods of teaching is being replaced by the new holistic paradigm which emphasizes the process of learning.  The holistic paradigm is concerned with teaching as the 'facilitation of natural learning' and learner empowerment ...'self-empowerment' ...  Holistic learning is 'active learning' for the responsibility of freedom or 'responsible freedom' in which inner freedom translated into outer freedom.                                                                                                                        

"Holistic education ....is more concerned with drawing forth the latent capacities and sensitivities of the soul than with stuffing passive young minds full of predigested information. It is an education that prepares young people to live purposefully, creatively, and morally in a complex world."(Miller et al. The Renewal of Meaning in Education: Responses to the Cultural and Ecological Crisis of our Times 17)

"The only means to a world of peace and understanding is through the proper education of children into emotionally and intellectually mature and thinking adults, respectful and tolerant of other cultures." (Norman Goble. The Function of Teaching ch 3  'The Changing Role of the Teacher.' UNESCO Paris 1977)


what is a paradigm?

the behavioural paradigm of traditional education...

paradigm shift to the cognitive or 'holistic paradigm'...

key to the new teaching paradigm is emphasis on intrinsic motivation for holistic learning

brain research provides the evidence...

What is a paradigm? The word 'paradigm' from Latin ‘paradigma’ for model was popularized by American physicist and historian Dr.Thomas Kuhn in his book entitled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (published in 1962). In science, a 'paradigm' is a theoretical framework... based on given assumptions... which provide a working model or theory for scientific activity. The working scientist designs experiments and analyses experimental data within the framework of a given paradigm. Data which cannot be explained within the context of the paradigm initiate a 'paradigm crisis' followed by 'paradigm debate' which eventually leads to 'paradigm shift'. A new paradigm replaces the old one. Examples of paradigm shifts in science: paradigm of quantum mechanics replaced the paradigm of Newtonian mechanics to and the paradigm of evolutionary theory replaced the paradigm of creationism. Just as in the history of science, there are paradigms, paradigm crises paradigm debates and paradigm shifts in the history of education as well.

At the present time a paradigm shift is taking place from the behavioural paradigm of so-called ‘traditional education’ to the ‘new’ paradigm of holistic education which is more effective for meeting the complex needs of post-industrial societies.

The behavioural paradigm of traditional education Traditional education as school education or ‘schooling’… evolved in the context of industrialism. Schools and the school curriculum were designed as an effective way to pre-adapt children to industrial society and its rigid demands for discipline and authoritarianism. to teach children the knowledge which they would need to adapt to the demands of an industrial society. Teaching methods were justified by the so-called ‘science of behaviour’. ‘Behavioural science’ or 'behaviourism' is based on the assumption that effective learning is a matter of conditioned response or 'conditioning' …failure to respond correctly is punished and successful responses are rewarded. Motivation for learning is derived from the need to gain rewards for success and avoid punishment for failure. These needs or motives are extrinsic to the learning process and form the basis for 'extrinsic motivation'.

 The behavioural paradigm of traditional education is based on the assumption that effective learning... the learning process... is a function of motivation by external rewards and the avoidance of punishment i.e. conditioned response or 'conditioning'. Conditioned learning is passive learning. Consequently emphasis is placed on the mechanics of teaching or 'teaching methods'.... which define the teacher’s function in terms of their ability to meet given learning requirements or 'learning outcomes’. The function of the teacher is to decide what and how the students should learn. Students are taught how to meet teacher expectations. They learn to depend for their motivation on motives which are extrinsic to the learning process – the avoidance of punishment or 'failure' and the achievement of reward or 'success' i.e. 'extrinsic motivation'. Learning becomes passive because it is based on the memorization of set patterns i.e. 'rote learning'. Superficial learning and so-called 'knowledge' is  evaluated and measured in terms of a standardized system of evaluation i.e. 'grades' and grade averages. Emphasis on grades creates a dependency on extrinsic motivation - the likely cause for the so-called 'educational crisis'       

The traditional behavioural paradigm with its emphasis on methods of teaching is seriously questioned today.  Schools are faced with the problem: how to increase student motivation while satisfying standard educational requirements? The answer can be found in the context of the new paradigm of  holistic education. Holistic education is education for development of human potential… of the person as a whole or ‘person-centered education’.

 Paradigm shift to the cognitive or 'holistic paradigm' There is a fundamental shift a in the philosophical paradigm of education and a new paradigm is emerging which emphasizes the mechanics of the learning process or cognitive processes i.e. ‘cognition’. The so-called 'cognitive paradigm' is based on new information resulting from recent findings in brain research or 'neuroscience'. New theories about the learning process are based on the natural functioning of the 'brain' as a natural meaning maker. The function of the brain is to search for... to make or create meaning from experience i.e. 'learn'. Learning is an active process... natural process which evolved through natural selection during the course of human evolution. Natural learning is meaningful because it takes place in the context of experience i.e. 'experiential learning'. Experiential learning is a function of the brain's natural capacity for learning i.e. 'brain-based learning'. Brain-based learning involves the optimal functioning of the brain as a whole i.e. 'holistic learning' or 'optimalearning'. Optimalearning is active learning which involves the unconscious motivation for the intrinsic rewards of knowledge and understanding i.e. 'intrinsic motivation'. Intrinsic motivation involves unconscious motives for personal behaviour... self-directed learning and involves the positive use of error and the psychological value of productiveness or 'work'.

increased motivation depends on a quality of teaching which accomodates individual needs for complete intellectual and emotional development…. Motivation from within… ‘intrinsic motivation’ for natural learning which engages personal development. Rather than emphasizing the methods of teaching, effective teaching emphasizes the process of learning … the natural learning or ‘experiential learning’… learner empowerment as 'self-empowerment. Teaching is involved with the 'facilitation of  learning' as  'active learning' … the responsibility of freedom or 'responsible freedom'... inner freedom translated into outer freedom.

The freedom for meaningful work engages development of 'moral consciousness' or 'conscience'... the human 'soul'.   

Key to the new teaching paradigm is emphasis on intrinsic motivation for holistic learning... Holistic learning is active learning of responsibile freedom as inner freedom or 'self-empowerment'... In the new holistic paradigm for teaching the teacher's function is described in terms of the facilitation of learning. The function of the teacher is to enhance the learner's intrinsic motivation. The effective teacher is a facilitator of learning. Effective teaching methods place the emphasis on the facilitation of self-directed learning. Facilitative teaching methods are effective because they comply with the natural holistic functioning of the brain. Teaching for effective learning is teaching to the brain's natural functioning while engaging the learner's personal development. Inthe paradigm of 'holistic education' the function of the effective teacher or 'soul educator' is defined in terms of the 'facilitation of learning'. Facilitative teaching is effective because it coincides with the natural holistic functioning of the brain. Brain development is functional in the development of natural intelligence or 'creative intelligence'. Teaching to the brain's natural intelligence functioning engages the learner in their personal development and their capacity for adaptation to changing environmental conditions... 'adaptability'.

Education for adaptability through 'self-empowerment is 'holistic education'.                        

Brain research provides the evidence for a rational basis of brain-based learning and holistic education.  On the basis of recent findings in brain research, it turns out that learning is most effective when it involves the brain's natural function of creating meaning from experience. Effective learning is active and involves motivation for the intrinsic rewards of knolwedge and understanding. In the new teaching paradigm described as integrative, configurative or 'holistic', the teacher's function is to empower the learner and facilitate natural learning. The traditional behavioural paradigm with its emphasis on methods of teaching is being replaced by the new holistic paradigm which emphasizes the process of learning. The holistic paradigm for teaching is teaching for natural learning, for learner empowerment and responsible freedom.

"Recent findings in brain research suggest that it is possible to understand the functioning of the brain once there is sufficient explanation for the specific functions of individual nerve cells and their connections. The resulting patterns of nerve impulses, neural circuits and networks form the basis of the brain's functions. The knowledge gained from findings in brain research forms the basis for theories of brain-based learning and can be applied to educational philosophies and pedagogies. The findings confirm the antagonism between 'traditional' teaching methods and the natural learning function of the brain". (Conner, James "Cutting Edge: Mind & Molecules" Journal of Developmental Education vol 16, number 3, Spring 1993: 34)


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