To be prepared to thrive in a complex, rapidly evolving, globally connected, highly technological, and environmentally fragile world, today’s learners need personalised support, safe environments, good health, and challenging learning opportunities.
Though schools and teachers are our first avenues of pushing education forward, the involvement of everyone, including parents, industries, and communities, are essential in ensuring the holistic growth of each child since learners are now being more exposed to the world more than ever due to the advent of the age of connectivity, everybody needs to play their role in the child’s development.
HOW DO WE
NURTURE WHOLE LEARNERS?
- Refers to mental skills (Critical thinking, discernment, good judgment, logical reasoning)
SOCIAL AWARENESS & INVOLVEMENT
- Development of strong social skills and relationships
- Extending the self to the environment / outside world (Being concerened about the current social and political events)
PSYCHO-EMOTIONAL & MORAL FORMATION
- Refers to spiritual development, emotional intelligence (Developing good values and right conduct)
CULTIVATING SPECIAL INTERESTS
- Honing special talents and skills
- Foster creativity and artistic capability
Though the above are the common goals of schools, educators still face multiple challenges in fulfilling them given the changing academic landscape:
1.) Teachers seem unprepared and have yet to fully adjust with the newly implemented K-12 Curriculum
2.) Dynamics between teachers and students have become more complicated – From teacher-centered to student-centered
3.) More rampant migration of teachers (local to abroad or private to public)
4.) Given new academic demands, schools are forced to upgrade facilities which has triggered the increase in tuition fees (Leading to decreasing number of enrollees)
WE STILL NEED IMPROVEMENT
Though a lot are being done to address Holistic Development, we are yet to witness the involvement of everyone.
SINGAPORE PUSHES WHOLE EDUCATION
In Singapore, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat has outlined his ministry’s plans to create a holistic education system and one where no child is left behind. To prepare our students for the future, education must develop the whole person. 
How are they planning to do it?
Student Care Centres
Increase the number of student care centres located within schools from the current 57 to 70 by 2014. The centres provide structured care for students, whether it’s help with homework or with problems at home. Constant interaction between the centre’s staff and school teachers also means potential problems can be flagged quickly.
Learning Support Programs
The ministry also has learning support programmes in primary schools to pull up those weak in English and Maths. About 6,000 children have gone through the scheme, and another 2,200 will be included this year.
Addressing Parent Anxiety
Addressing the anxiety of parents over getting their child into a good school, Mr Heng outlined improvements made over the years, adding that his aim is to ensure that all schools are good schools.
Edusave Character Award
Recognise students who exhibit exemplary values, such as resilience and tenacity, integrity, care and respect, as well as civic responsibility.
“Developing the whole child must first begin with instilling the right character and values. We must adopt a student-centric, values-driven approach,”
– Singapore Education Minister Heng Swee Keat
ARE WE EDUCATING WHOLE PERSONS?
Though there is evidence that students academically challenged, feel engaged with their schoolwork, are healthy, feel, supported, and are safe – are more likely to attend and succeed in school, survey from ASCD shows that there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to achieve holistic development of each chid:
of high school graduates would have worked harder if they’d been challenged more.
of learners say they’re bored every day in school
of learners do not get the recommended daily amount of exercise
of 22 to 30 year old with college experience say their high school guidance councelors gave fair or poor college advice.
of children report bullying a classmate, being bullied, or both.
Sources: ASCD Whole Child; NCES Indicators of Crime and Safety; Civic Enterprises; Silent Epidemic; Grad Nation, 2009, Achieve 2005
WHAT CAN WE DO NOW?
ASCD’s WHOLE CHILD FOR THE WHOLE WORLD INITIATIVE is an effort to transition from a focus on narrowly defined academic achievement to one that promotes the long-term development and success of all children. Through educators, families, community members and policymakers, the movement aims to help each stakeholder form a vision about educating the whole child to sustainable, collaborative action.
How about you? How can you contribute to each child’s long term success?