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Name: Rachael L Ruder
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Jan 10, 2021
Research Papers / The Academic Institutions in The United States Should Take a More Holistic Approach to Education [2]

holistic strategy to education

I'm still half a page short of the requirement and I don't feel like my ideas are all transitioning well together.
The Academic Institutions in The United States Should Take a More Holistic Approach to Education

The USA has never been a leader in education, even though it is the richest country in the world. Many people believe this is due to politics, with an abundance of online sources claiming that a huge factor for educational success in other countries comes from full government funding of academic institutions, which does not exist in America. "The US public education system persists because of a patchwork of federal and state laws and institutions, not as a cohesive and universal goal for the society" (Dickinson 1). Taking a closer look at the countries that outperform the US academically; however, it is clear that the real issue with American education is where they put their focus inside the classrooms. Everything is standardized, teachers lack the freedom to alter their teaching methods, and students lack the freedom to pursue their individual interests. Currently, a disconnect exists between teachers and students. There's also a disconnect between the students and the material they are made to learn. The academic institutions in the US should take a more holistic strategy to education to achieve greater academic success, mental health, and creativity for its students as well is increase the impact and efficiency of its teachers. "Holistic education is a comprehensive approach to teaching where educators seek to address the emotional, social, ethical, and academic needs of students in an integrated learning format." (School of Education Online Programs)

A holistic approach to education enables the students to achieve greater academic success by being innovative, thereby giving them more control over their educational environments. The way the educational system is set up right now is that we have distorted incentives that undermine our students' ability. "While US public schools moved to standardized testing, Finnish schools eschewed nationwide tests to evaluate teachers, students or schools, instead of relying on sample-based testing and school principals to identify potential problems" (Tung 1). To enhance collaboration in the classroom, "The [Finnish] curricula are very much focused on critical thinking and problem solving, project-based learning, and learning to learn" (Tung 1). Among the main element of a holistic approach to education involves the fact that it focuses on the interconnectedness of reality and experience. It seeks to develop schooling that is in harmony with surroundings or the cosmos. Most importantly, it positions students as active, critical, and participative learners who can perceive and understand their surrounding environment and context. In contrast, what is being witnessed in the US is more of a traditional education which tends to be fragmented and static. It ultimately promotes alienation as well as suffering rather than enjoyment not only among students but also educators.

A holistic approach to education increases the bond between the teachers and the learners, thereby improving the students' mental health. One example of this is demonstrated by Japan, one of the top-ranked academic countries in the world. In Japan, teachers and students routinely eat lunch together. In the article, "More Than a Meal: School Lunch in Japan," published online in 2017, Alexis Agliano Sanburn explains how Japanese school lunches serve a much greater purpose than just feeding students. Children play an active role in preparing the food that everyone will eat together, teachers talk to the students throughout the meal, continuing to educate them and bond with them, and the children also aid in cleaning up after the meal is done. This practice emphasizes the importance of teamwork and unity, which are not given enough priority in American schools. It also presents a unique opportunity for teachers to assess the emotional, social, and ethical needs of individual students. Michael Linsin affirms this in his article, "Why You Should Eat Lunch With Your Students," stating that when the teachers join the students on their lunch breaks, the benefits are massive. The benefits he lists include utilizing the break as an effortless way to build rapport, connecting the less connected by influencing the self-consciousness and social awkwardness between groups, and improving relationships and trust (Linsin 1). The stronger the teacher's relationship is with their students, the more likely they are to care about what the teachers have to say, giving educators a better opportunity to impact the learners and relate with them to support their development.

Another example of increasing the teacher-student bond to enhance the academic success of children may be found in Finland. Another country well known for its phenomenal academic success is Finland; students have the same teacher for up to six years. In addition to contributing to a strong connection between educators and their students, this allows teachers to have more freedom with their curriculum. As any educator will tell you, there is normally more to education than simply passing academic exams. However, it's vital for students to be taught mathematics and sciences, including how the respiratory system functions; such details may not mean much if a student can't keep up with others. The traditional education approach has often labeled such students as lazy, slow learners, mentally ill, or learning disabled. However, a holistic approach can keep such students from being left behind and result in better educational outcomes, more so in low-income schools. The holistic educational approach tends to be flexible, dynamic, and accommodates the personal differences that are inevitable among individuals. Among the major goals of education should be to nurture.

Among the key pillars of holistic education is learning to live together. It calls for learning not only to live responsibly but also cooperating and respecting others. Effective learning needs to overcome prejudice, discrimination, dogmatism, stereotypes, and authoritarianism because all these leads to only one thing, which confrontation or war. The principle of learning to live together is interdependence, which takes the path of the discovery of others, and the experience of shared goals through experience. For instance, when a teacher shares a meal with students, they are in the path of discovering one another, which promotes the element of empathy, cooperative social behavior, sharing, and respect for other humans. In line with this, the essence of the holistic approach is to create a supportive environment that supports and emphasizes social and emotional learning, along with academics. In such an environment, the student has better chances of developing social responsibility, self-awareness, and confidence.

Through a holistic educational system, the students will be more creative both in school and society. A holistic education system adopts a scenario where there is no homework, allowing the children to utilize their younger days by playing after school hours, a move that is presently adopted in the Finnish academic approach to enhance creativity among learners. The Finnish educational approach recognizes that learning does not have to be just academic, thereby allowing children to learn other life lessons when they get home, including reading, cooking, music, art, among other essential activities required for their creative and cognitive development (Infobaselearning A 1). Students do not benefit from mindless busywork. They gain much more by thoroughly investigating a topic in greater depth for deep understanding. It's not about memorization anymore. It's about operational knowledge, problem-solving, and teamwork: reasoning and discipline. We need to allow children to explore their individuality and practice self-discipline. Holistic education offers not only a sense of meaning but also order to things. According to holistic educators, further evolution to human consciousness and civilization calls for a renewed reverence and respect for the inner life. In other words, by introducing students to holistic views of life on earth, the community, and the planet as "a context of meaning," the holistic strategies enable them to understand and perceive different contexts, which shape and also give life meaning. The holistic approach is more of a journey for both students and educators. The nature of this approach can help both educators and students to draw different experiences from this approach.

There should be holistic teaching programs to support learners' creativity, thereby ensuring that students will be able to fit in diverse environments upon the completion of their academic programs. In the traditional education approach, all that students will mostly care about is passing academic exams, which largely entails memorizing information. Educators also care more about their students doing well in education as it forms the basis of their evaluation. The effect of this is that it discourages creativity and makes learning much less enjoyable as there is always pressure to perform well in academic learning. The current education's obsession with standards and testing promotes a consumerist and materialistic culture, which has reduced education to training students to compete in the global marketplace. It has abandoned attempts to teach the whole person and reduced education to training for careers or workplaces.

Like in Finland, the United States' education system should involve more short breaks, including lunch breaks that reduce classroom boredom, increase unity and teamwork between learners and their tutors, thereby making learning more enjoyable.

"Advocates say charter schools provide a superior education, and as proof, they cite studies showing that charters have been particularly successful in raising student achievement scores in troubled inner-city districts. Charters do more with less, they say, by eliminating bureaucracy and allowing teachers to try different educational approaches" (Karaim 1).

It is vital to note that how teachers perceive their standings in society usually has effects on the qualities of people aspiring to be teachers. Unlike the US, many young Finns often chose teaching as their favorite career since working in a school is a highly regarded profession. It is perceived as a more independent and autonomous profession compared to other highly regarded professions worldwide like a medical doctor, architect, and lawyer, among others. The holistic approach in Finland has helped the country to develop a quality teaching workforce, which in turn has contributed to positive impacts on students' performances. Studies show that teachers normally have a considerable influence on student performance (Hemphill 6). Students with high-quality teachers are more likely to attend colleges, live in high-income neighborhoods, earn higher salaries, and save more for their retirements (Hemphill 6). Perhaps, this explains why the US education system is no match for the Finnish education system. Besides, the current American education system has created a culture where quality education only belongs to the few, particularly the high-income class who can afford it. As opposed to the popular belief, private schools also exist in Finland, and about 2% attend these schools (Dickinson 1). However, such private schools are different as they are prohibited from practicing selective admissions.

The primary objective of education relates to nourishing the inherent possibilities associated with human development. Thus, schools need to be those places that facilitate and support the whole development. The whole development here includes the emotional, ethical, social, and academic elements, among other aspects. Unlike the traditional approach, learning should deepen one's relationship to self, family, community, the planet, and the cosmos. In order to realize this, learning should be an active and multisensory engagement occurring between individuals and the world. It should be a mutual contact that not only empowers learners but also reveal the meaningfulness of the world. Besides, learners are usually inherently creative, unique, with individual abilities and needs. It calls for welcoming these personal differences. It also requires developing tolerance, appreciation for diversity, and respect in every student.

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) educational policy in the United States meant that there is regular testing of students whenever they are to advance from one academic level to another, including in different subjects like reading and math. The institutions must also report the test results, including the particular subgroups of students like racial minorities, those from low-income families, and students in special education (Infobaselearning B 1). However, from a holistic perspective, an individual should be seen as "an integral being" that has six critical elements. The elements include emotional, physical, social, spiritual, aesthetic, and intellectual elements. To ensure effective learning, educators should learn that the six elements often play a key role in the learning process. Although the cognitive element has traditionally been favored, the holistic approach recognizes the significance of having a balance between the above six elements. Holistic educators don't view a student's brain as something that should be programmed. Instead, it's something that should be viewed as a whole being. This way, education will be much more than just passing academic exams and finishing school in preparation for careers and workplaces.

The rest of the world is clearly showing us how times have changed. As the years move on, a strict, calculated approach to education is seen as the antithesis to progress, and yet the US continues to move towards a reductionist mindset. On top of that, the US continues to spend much more than other countries to perform far worse, highlighting a key point; money does not solve all problems. Sometimes it takes a caring mind and an open government to make broad sweeping changes. These changes are there to allow the further development of the country, as the country begins with the education and care of its people. Without any doubt, holistic education can be said to be the education for the 21st Century as it is suitable for developing humans with great intelligence, global conscience, and vision for peace. It prepares citizens who will be mindful of others, their communities, and the planet. Additionally, it not only meets the needs of various students but also could be a source of gratification and fulfillment for teachers.