Understanding the Holistic Education model of Huili
25 October 2018
The diagram above illustrates the thinking and research of Canadian professor Dr JP Miller, on the major elements of a holistic curriculum.A holistic education places the pupil at the heart of everything. The focus is on that child’s individual needs. Each child is presented with various (and varied) learning opportunities that challenge and engage them as much as possible. Planning for learning takes into consideration what the child knows already and builds on that knowledge, rather than simply imposing new concepts without acknowledging the child’s starting point or allowing for critical thinking. While gaining knowledge is vital, the development of a solid sense of self-worth, self-esteem and personal confidence is an equally important element of a holistic education.
So, what does our Huili School model look like?
As you can see, our pupils are at the very heart of all we do. The Huili curriculum is rich and broad. It provides many and varied learning opportunities and new experiences. The thematic approach in the Primary School allows pupils to not only gain knowledge but to learn skills that can be applied in other situations. For example, skills learned in English will also be used in history, skills learned during maths in Chinese will be employed in science which is taught in English. The curriculum is designed to give each pupil the opportunity to experience interconnected learning.
Curriculum planning does not simply follow a text or educational programme set down by others. Each teacher looks at the pupils’ current knowledge and understanding, and then plans learning strategies from that starting point. The more able pupils in each class will be pushed and supported just as much as those who need dedicated support to progress.
Our CCA programme takes this aim of ensuring our pupils experience new learning opportunities and develops it further. Pupils are expected to take CCAs in the three major strands of our curriculum – arts & culture, sports and academic. Over time, pupils will enjoy new learning in areas that may well challenge them. The sporty child will spend some time exploring the arts, the academic will take part in sports activities and so on. We know that these extended learning opportunities really do enable the development of the whole child. Skills learned in one area support learning in all others. This is particularly true in developing confidence, emotional resilience and self-worth. Experience shows us that the child that is engaged with sports teams, music and drama, visual arts – that busy child who embraces everything that Huili has to offer – will be the one that succeeds academically too.
Many educational settings say they are ‘holistic’, that they develop the ‘whole child’. At Huili School Shanghai it is a daily reality. Put simply, it is embedded in everything we do.