Deciding to undertake a journey of learning is often equal parts exciting and daunting. We sometimes set out full of a sense of adventure, anticipating how we will be different on the other side. Or perhaps we start off intimidated by the learning process, remembering past challenges, failures, or barriers that kept us from succeeding. We have all experienced educators who were less than effective, or who perhaps even became barriers to our learning processes. However, when we are to truly grow from an experience, whether it’s one thrust upon us or one we choose to invest in, we must engage not only our intellect, but every part of ourselves, including our physical, spiritual, emotional, social, and creative selves.
The concept of holistic education began to gain prominence in the late 20th century as researchers and educators alike realized the impossibility of compartmentalizing one part of the self as new information is processed. As with so many other things in our world, the scientists and sociologists learned something that seemed new, but was actually ancient wisdom - everything is connected. And that connectedness affects and drives everything we do and everything we are. The groundwork for this revival of holistic education was laid by practitioners and researchers such as Jean Jacques Rousseau, Maria Montessori, and Howard Gardner. In fact, Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences made way for people to be engaged in the learning process by not only acknowledging, but prioritizing different learning styles and personality types. By engaging every part of oneself, learning can go beyond rote memorization or exam-centric work to a truly transformative experience that changes the way we perceive and interact with the world.
Truly holistic education also involves the connectedness between us and the world around us. The connectedness that ancient tradition spoke of does not stop with our internal selves - it also shapes and is shaped by the world around us. When we learn as people who are connected to others, we are able to effectively synthesize concepts into real-world application. To consider the holistic experience means to consider the relationship between ourselves and other people as well as the relationship between ourselves and the earth. At Athena Wisdom Institute, we don’t just acknowledge these relationships, we honor and prioritize them. Every one of our courses draws from ancient wisdom and views the individual as a collection of integrated parts, as well as a part of the greater whole that is humanity.
The research and evidence supporting holistic education have shaped much of our methodology at Athena Wisdom Institute. Consistent with the principles of holistic education, we believe that the role of the educator is to facilitate student learning rather than to dictate or lecture to simply transmit information. We believe that learning is a partnership between the guide and the student, and we strive to partner with our Athena Wisdom Course participants so that we grow from one another.