The following model was created utilizing the research results from Our Children Our Future Project conducted in 2012-13 and published in The Heart of Holistic Education: Expressed Through the Experience of its Most Innovative Holistic Models by Connie Giffin in November, 2015.
Embracing the 6 core essence groups revealed in the study points the way to the underlying heart of the holistic framework. As a model this creates a highly evolved holistic design capable of educating learners to become fully passionate, informed, ethical change agents and earth caretakers in three generations.
Adding depth to the holistic model was the process crucial to solving the underlying problem of the human created destruction. Credited to Dr. Michael J. Cohen, founder of Project NatureConnect, the process is based upon 50+ years dedicated work teaching, counseling and healing in nature. It is the key to reversing humanity’s misguided path, and bringing it back into alignment with the natural laws of nature and the nearly perfectly functioning biosphere without producing runaway garbage, insanity or war.
The Our Children Our Future research produced a holistic educational model holding the power and potential to change lives, a community, a society, a nation-state, and the world. It is offered here as a gift to all children of Mother Earth.
Our Children Our Future: the Heart of Holistic Education Model
It commences with the aim of this holistic educational model. It draws upon the sage advice of ancient wisdom, early philosophers’ theories, and evolved holistic orientation. Education must be relevant to learners, preserve their cultural heritage, and develop their comprehensive knowledge in preparation for the role of ethical change-agent they must assume for humankind to survive (Laszlo, 2011c, and Miller. 2008).
The very heart of the holistic approach can be based upon no less than the best possible wisdom: ancient knowledge of the laws of nature. This knowledge of the ancients comprises the core of all religions and indigenous wisdom. A most essential piece of Native American wisdom that must be included declares all decisions made and actions taken must be based on the good for the next seven generations (Cajete, 2000). This is the criteria to which every decision affecting learners must be subjected, and only when positive, acted upon. It is also the key to self-regulation of the power it creates. Ancient wisdom further teaches living in peaceful co-existence and harmony with all living beings expanding the concept of community beyond the human species. Peaceful parents bring forth and nurture peaceful children who become peaceful adults, and in sufficient numbers create a peaceful society. In this model avoidance of conflict, especially violence and often resulting destruction, will be a major force in maintaining the self-regulation of its power.
A child’s world is the natural world to which the learner is innately connected and from which all stimulation, creative modeling, and experiential learning are derived. Study in natural open classrooms, bringing nature inside in inclement weather, following the natural cycle of life, absorbing the health filled benefits, running, playing, exploring, expandinghorizons, inquiring by inner self-directed choice is the inherent right of every child. Children, when given freedom to express their natural biophilic connection respect and honor butterflies, insects, fish, frogs, trees, flowers, wild strawberries, and a live steam. They hold nature in awe. They explore and thrive in the natural environment of the heart of this model, free to dream, express their innermost thoughts and feelings. Equally enticing to the learners is the indoor educational center to which they retreat on rainy and snowy days. It is created using biophilic design principles to ensure continuation of healthful, stimulating benefits of nature especially the abundance of natural lighting and large green plants to fill the air with oxygen.
This educational heart is infused with the arts: music, dance, performance, and visual presentations with a seemingly endless flow from the imaginative minds of these inspired learners. The arts serve to bring out individual creativity to fill every soul to overflowing with the joy found in its expression. The arts provide the ideal outlet for dreams to be recorded or enacted on stage complete with researched and imagined costumes and set designs. All the while instilling a positive and valued sense of accomplishment and confidence in the learner. It offers the greatest demonstration of learning achievement. The arts further encompass all eight of the ways of knowing: linguistic, logic, visual-spatial, kinesthetic, rhythmic, naturalist, interpersonal, and intrapersonal to reach all learners (Lazear, 2014, Home page).
Diversity, in all its aspects, will serve not as a source of prejudice in this heart, but will be the greatest of learning tools. Embracing and viewing diversity as the beautiful expression of divine love, is the means to expand the boundaries of learning. Welcoming and interacting with diverse cultures, multiple generations, and socio-economic groups is an invitation to explore new horizons often beyond one’s imagination. Technology opens wide the door to unprecedented global learning potential. Studying, then sharing a subject of common interest with a very different culture on a weekly basis via Skype, develops a compassionate and open mindset while bringing great amounts of new information before the engaged learners.
This heart sets aside training for the worn, obsolete professions created to serve the industrial era to focus on the learning of social relationship and technical skill sets, and wisdom imparted by elders needed for emerging industries in the new age of knowledge. Industries that are born as solutions to solve the earth’s major issues: energy, advanced technologies, ancient practices and futuristic ideologies in agriculture, restoration and sustainability of the natural world, reinvention of a business model investing in its greatest resource: its people, restructuring from urban sprawl to community lifestyle and spirit. To this list add preventive and natural health care, plant medicines, whole foods, and bountiful products of the earth, lovingly crafted works of art expressing the beauty and diversity of the world. Students will have a hope-filled future when they are preparing for a profession or emerging new field that will promote the values in which they believe. Trusting relationships, collaboration not competition, investment in trade and business in which they are involved and benefit, equal distribution of resources, community spirit, and sustainability will be the guiding principles.
With this heart in place, a new era will dawn in placing value on holistic education, and its’ most direct providers: parents transforming themselves as the primary role models (or trust in a competent educational system or at a minimum one individual to hold unshakable belief in each learner). Highly qualified and inspired teachers facilitate from the heart in collaboration with evolved parents. Together they work alongside administrators with futuristic vision to direct institutions in light of what is best for the learner’s education and life fulfillment.
With this heart beating at its center, an educational framework will follow the defined principles of the holistic approach with a humanistic pedagogy while honoring and expanding the influence of spirituality through the natural laws of nature, without religious dogma.
This is an ever-evolving hope-filled model, strengthened by the experience of each successive generation and responsive to changes of nature, technology, knowledge, and understanding. It does not cling to the outmoded present day paradigm but embraces the new age of knowledge, exploring the infinite possibilities with an open and curious mind. It is responsive to the present and future needs of students; it values and encourages imagination and creativity. It stays “fresh” alive, inspired, innovative. It releases the untapped resources of the learner’s mind, bringing each individual to their highest potential. Equality of education will be available to all learners from tots to elders, often through strong reliance on innovative technology based applications.
Within its heart centered design, this educational model self regulates the use of its power and potential. When the six essence groups are activated, only good from this core will result. A good that can change lives, a community, a society, a nation-state, and the world. According to Michael Deunov, founder of one of the eight participating schools embracing fully the essence groups revealed by this study for thirty years, this new world image is possible within three generations. Finland, a second participant, is a shining example of the power and potential of education to evolve a nation-state investing in its greatest asset, people, to create a knowledge and research based sustainable economy.
The outcome of this research, the core essence groups, placed at the heart of holistic education, create the ideal learning environment. It holds the potential for conceiving a viable system capable of educating learners to become fully the passionate, informed, ethical change agents and earth caretakers: the new “Universal Human” (Hubbard, 2012, p. 118). The level of commitment to this educational heart and the expressed purpose of the institution determine the degree of successful outcome toward the desired goal.