Ancient Wisdom at the root of Holistic Education

We all remember the one kid in class who always seems to be behind compared to the others. One would think that since they’re the one having a hard time that the teachers or even the system would focus more on that kid’s intellectual and emotional growth. Unfortunately, that rarely happens.

The current educational practices have a skewed rewards system. Students who perform well are given more attention and more accolades, but the students who have a hard time catching up are berated even more under the guise of “motivating him or her” to do better. In the end, the kid loses interest in education, the problem never gets addressed, and nothing changes.

Growing up, we have been accustomed to educational practices that have not always been productive—sometimes these are even destructive. Individuality and specific intelligences are often blurred out through standardized tests, benchmarking, and rankings, thus stunting the holistic growth of students in the process.

Cultivating wholeness and including every aspect of humanity—from STEM to spirituality—in education is critical to raising a more conscious generations. With the world rapidly changing, we cannot afford to raise leaders that are unreflective, ill-informed, and with no connection to their core humanity. In our current educational system, we may raise Doctors, Accountants, Lawyers, and Journalists, but without the Philosophy of Wholeness, we just might be raising Doctors who would not do anything unless for a price, Accountants who manipulate records, Lawyers who will do anything for power and money, and Journalists who frame false information to be true.

According to Scott Forbes, Holistic education is one that “educates all parts of the child”—intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. It sees the child as a whole being, and as part of the greater whole—the advancing society, the environment, their communities, etc. With this approach, educators will continually be asking the question, “how will this child use this information for the greater good?” and not simply teach information for the sake of it. It develops the child’s creative and critical thinking skills, persistence, motivation, and healthy risk-taking. It teaches the child that their moral and ethical choices are deeply linked to the world around them, and that their humanity should be at the core of their goals and aspirations.

This kind of education is a stark contrast to the current trends we have and challenges the practices that reflect materialism and consumerism; practices in which the goal is to compete and consume in the global marketplace. It reduces the child as a mere statistic, turning their complexities into narrow benchmarks with the goal of just making more money for businesses.

Holistic Education has its roots planted in Ancient Wisdom. It is focused on the integration of the vast range of human experiences, one that fosters deep appreciation for learning about the world, nature, and the universe. Holistic education develops one’s identity and encourages one’s connection with the world and the environment around them. Holistic educators try to capture and recover the indigenous and aboriginal people’s sense of meaning and incorporate it to today’s modern education.

The concept of holism, or wholeness, comes from the Greek concept of holon which teaches that the universe is made up of interconnected wholes that cannot be divided into parts. Socrates himself pioneered holistic education when he said, “know thyself”, wherein he encouraged his students to examine their life and see if it reflects the education they receive.
Schools of thought inspired by the Philosophy of Wholeness include Perennial Philosophy which teaches divine reality and oneness; Indigenous Worldviews which encompasses Ancient Wisdom and reverence for the universe; Ecological Worldview which explores environmental issues, dialogues with nature, and sustainability; and Feminist ideologies which push for equality, inclusion, and mutual responsibility.

The challenges children face especially in the age of technology are reflected in their self-concept. Internet algorithms often display unrealistic standards that affect their self-esteem. Most of what they see can even be false or dangerous, which can lead to their perceptions becoming skewed. Materially, the world is progressing, but the younger generations are at risk of devolving and disconnecting from their authentic selves. Returning to our roots— to Ancient Wisdom—is the antidote to these issues. When we discover the interconnectedness of our existence, we can make better decisions for ourselves and our communities.

Athena Wisdom Institute is deeply passionate about incorporating Ancient Wisdom to our modern lifestyle, our workplaces, and most importantly, our schools. We recognize the importance of educating all children holistically for the advancement of society, and for the good of our world. We believe that the role of educators is to encourage critical thinking and develop a profound connectedness to humanity, and Athena Wisdom is here to spread this message to leaders around the world.