link: holistic perception


theme: The rational or 'scientific' approach to pedagogy is concerned with the design of pedagogical methods so that they coincide with children's natural holistic perception of reality. Holistic perception eliminates the so-called 'dichotomy' between individual freedom and social responsibility.

 "The human mind is capable of transcending apparent empirical 'facts' and can penetrate to the 'world of formative ideas'. Through the power of imagination, we are able to integrate the empirical with the ideal, to place the concrete facts of our experience into a larger context of meaning, evolution and purpose. Physicist David Bohm calls this context 'undivided wholeness in flowing movement'. Gregory Bateson called it the 'pattern which connects'. Spiritual traditions have called it the Absolute, the Tao, or God. It is the infinitely creative source of Being." (Ron Miller)

Classical science  The notion from classical 'science' of the formation of ideas or concepts is based on the method of 'logical analysis' involving the mental processes of induction and deduction... 'scientism'.

Holistic science  In the paradigm of holistic science, the classic notion is extended to include the ability to perceive a reality as a concrete whole and then to be able to differentiate the different components - the qualities, details etc.

 In a natural process of learning, the human mind progresses through three stages of mental processing: global perception, analysis and synthesis.

Natural learning involves perception of the whole In the process of global perception, things are first perceived in their entirety, as a combination of details and qualities which are not divided or abstracted. Global perception is 'holistic'. Holistic perception is perception of reality in terms of its natural organic state, its natural relationships and connections and in its true and natural proportions. Holistic perception is the fusion of the whole with its constituent parts and with everything which pertains to it. Holistic perception is an obvious characteristic of 'sensory functions'. Whole events can be perceived on the basis of simple visual image. Entire circumstances can be perceived on the basis of particular sounds. Complete forms can be recognized on the basis of simple touch.

In every situation the first approximate perception is holistic.

Survival value of holistic perception ... problem-solving The global or holistic perception of reality is an instinctive and unconscious reaction of the whole organism to environmental stimuli. Holistic perception is a spontaneous reaction which has survival value for the organism in changing environmental conditions. Exemplifying the 'law of natural economy', holistic perception allows for the mobilisation of the organism's mental energy and effort for purposes of adaptation and survival. Perception which is holistic enables the organism to make immediate evaluations of new situations and experiences. The immediate evaluation is an approximation of reality which only later becomes conscious and concrete understanding after contemplation or 'meditation'.

Complete understanding is the basis for resolution of the problems of life and living.

The ability to solve problems depends on holistic perception and subsequent analysis of the global picture.

Adaptation to new situations and experiences depends on the organism's ability to understand how they relate to itself. Understanding how new situations relates to itself depends on the organism's ability to analyze the constituent elements. Effective analysis depends on the organism's ability to perceive the situation as a whole. In a natural process of holistic perception, the organism instinctively attempts to recognize relationships between the different elements of the new situation as a whole and then attempts to understand each element by itself. Increasing familiarity with an environment or situation - a place, picture, text or kowledge area - increases the ability of the organism to pay close attention to details.

... controlled by natural emotional tendencies  Holistic perception is a kind of scientific method which is controlled by the natural emotional tendencies - interest and feeling or 'sensibility'. Holistic perception involves the fusion of sensibilities with the object being perceived. As the fusion of sensibilities with perception, holistic perception is equivalent to 'global representation' or 'globalisation'.

     Globalization is a scientific approach to observation which involves the fusion of objective significance with the individual's emotional subjective significance i.e. 'consciousness state'.

Integrated functioning of the cerebral hemispheres Holistic perception is a function of the global functioning of the human brain... Holistic perception is a 'emergent property' of the global functioning of the human brain. The global functioning of the brain - its naturally holistic perception - is based on the biological functioning of the two cerebral hemispheres.

The biological basis for the brain's natural holistic functioning is the interactivity of the two hemispheres.

Brain functioning ... processing of information The brain functions at the unconscious level in the instinctive effort to make meaning of enviromental stimuli. In a process of holistic perception, immediate sensations are first translated into a global representation of the environmental reality. Subsequently in a process of analysis and synthesis - deduction and induction the global picture is broken down to its parts and put together in a logical order. The global mental activity of holistic perception is closely connected with instinctive and unconscious affective tendencies - the sensibilities (role of unconscious in the learning process).... 'brain functions'

 Holistic perception is of survival value and involves the brain's unconscious.

For this reason intellectual development is effectively based on interest and motivation.

Intellectual development involves interest... motivation  'intrinsic motivation'...The analytical mental activity is also connected with interest. There is no fundamental difference betweeen the interest which stimulates global mental activity and analytical or 'intellectual' activity. The only difference is that the interest which stimulates intellectual effort is generally less pressing, less immediate, less urgent than that which stimulates global mental activity. Interest which naturally stimulates global mental activity is the instinctive interest connected with instincts for adaptation and survival of the organism - instincts for nourishment, protection and defense,  socialisation and productivity or 'work'.

 Holistic perception required for understanding of human nature  The human capacity for holistic perception allows for an understanding of many aspects of human development and human nature - psychological development of personality, moral development of conscience, cognitive development of intelligence. The human organism is an indivisible whole, a whole being with reason and sensitivity. Human sensitivity or moral consciousness... 'conscience', 'spirit', 'soul'... develops normally in a sane social environment or 'civilisation'. A sane civilisation is a progressive civilization. Sensitivity as a projection of the human' soul' and impregnates the individual's efforts to understand the world intellectually... understanding of the significance of human sensitivity and its incorporation into pedagogical methods allows for the progression of human civilization i.e. 'progressive education'.

As the fusion of sensibilities with perception, holistic perception is equivalent to 'global representation' or 'globalization' - a term coined by

pedagogue Ovide Decroly

Implications for education   The natural mechanisms of learning constitute a rational foundation for the formulation of effective pedagogical methods and a 'scientifc pedagogy'.

It is important that pedagogical methods comply with principles of child psychology... that they effectively utilize the child's spontaneous holistic perception.

The term 'global' implies the involvement of the whole person as a being of body, soul and spirit. The 'global method' involves the whole person as a whole being. With increased emphasis on the integrating factor of a holistic perception ('global perspective'), the different branches of school subject matter are perceived in terms of their interrelationships, increasing the effectiveness of the learning process. The learner's naturally holistic perception is taken into account in the design of presentation.

 Holistic perception is dominated by the innate 'tendencies' of involvement and interest. Interest is a dynamic factor in the learning process. The cultivation of natural interest stimulates the awakening of the affective capacity, the spontanaeous tendency for activity. Stimulation of the instinctive tendency for activity leads to the realization of possibilities for self-discovery and achievement. Pedagogy which depends on stimulation of both interest and sensitivity is based on easygoing respect for the individual's spontaneity and freedom. Pedagogical methods which are based on observation and experience have as their most powerful ally - fact. Consequently they are open to innovation and modification and do not have to be identified with doctrines or dogmas..

Holistic perception is the natural most effective means to providing for effective learning which is the fundamental aim of education.




 One word which represents a useful concept for the elimination of the 'teacher/learner' dichotomy is 'embeddedness.' Teaching is 'embedded' in learning. The two are not separate. The teacher and the student are not separate. Art, science, literature and music are 'embedded' in history. Each discipline can be understood in terms of the others. Human beings must not be considered in isolation. They are embedded in the environment and nature. Work is embedded in play and so on. Perceived in terms of the metaphor of 'embeddedness' opposites and dualisms disappear. Supposedly illogical paradoxes can be resolved when considered in the framework of this emerging worldview.