School Guide

The Basics of Holistic Education

Published by SchoolAdvisor | Apr 11, 2018

One of the more unique characteristics about international schools is their approach to teaching and learning, in which they apply a holistic approach. Many people rave about the benefits of holistic education compared to the more rigid curriculum in public schools. But what exactly is holistic education? What are the types of curriculum that offer holistic education in Malaysia? Read on as we give you an overview about holistic education!

What is it?

Holistic education is concerned with the development of students’ emotional, social, physical, creative and spiritual potentials on top of their academic and intellectual abilities. In other words, it aims to produce well-rounded individuals who are not only academically competent but are also capable of forming strong relationships and possess values such as compassion and peace that they will carry throughout their lives.

Holistic education emphasises the self; through identity, meaning and purpose, children become passionate about learning and education rather than viewing it as a burden. It focuses on personal development and the freedom to ‘think outside the box’ as opposed to the traditional didactic approach and strictly exam-based assessments.

The holistic education scene in Malaysia

A majority of international schools all across Malaysia implement holistic education, with each school employing its own style to the holistic approach according to its specialisations.

For example, Seven Skies International School incorporates Islamic practices and cultural values into its curriculum while still keeping the holistic approach by encouraging its students to solve problems and evaluate situations through projects. Another example of local incorporation into the holistic approach is including Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese languages into the curriculum as well as the co-curricular activities, as done by Sri Kuala Lumpur International School (Sri KL). Dwi Emas International School takes a distinctive viewpoint of holistic education and applies an entrepreneurial teaching to their curriculum by incorporating business role-playing and class projects involving physical movement and teamwork.

For a breakdown of the different types of curricula offered in international schools, click here.

International Baccalaureate (IB) is a curriculum that strongly emphasises holistic education, perhaps more so than other curricula. The aim of the IB programme is to create self-motivated and goal-driven graduates. Part of the curriculum within the IB diploma programme requires students to partake in community service and give back to society. Further, IB stresses the importance of taking risks in life and being inquisitive about your surroundings. The desire to learn is instilled in the students and they strive to achieve their goals by the end of programme, and carry that same spirit beyond education.

Why should you consider it?

As mentioned before, holistic education is beneficial in producing well-rounded students who are not only academically outstanding but also aware of the environment around them and the relationships that they can form within the environment. Having a connection with the outside world is crucial to their growth as well as their mental and emotional development, and holistic education puts a big emphasis on this in particular.

Academic subjects like history, geography, literature and fine arts can do wonders in expanding the minds of the students, while practical activities such as role-playing and debate can get students to engage in real-world situations while working together in teams. In many ways, students exposed to holistic education are able to recognise the changes within their environment very quickly as they are taught how to think as opposed to what to think, thus allowing them to think critically and creatively when facing any situation.