What is Holistic Education?

Lena Welch
Dean, School of Arts and Sciences

"At its most basic, holistic education inspires students to grow intellectually, socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. My perception is that, practically speaking, different institutions define “holistic education” differently. At Trevecca, holistic education is particularly Christ-centered education; not in a limiting sense but in the encouragement of spiritual growth. Holistic education at Trevecca, and particularly in the School of Arts and Sciences, is the development of graduates who are capable of serving in whatever their calling may be, regardless of academic major or program of study. Holistic education at Trevecca is transformative education; it changes lives."

Tim Green
Dean, School of Theology and Christian Ministry

"Holistic education is grounded in the biblical conviction that the human being is not divided into many fragmented parts such as the physical, spiritual, emotional, and relational but rather that the human is a single entity created by God. Therefore, it provides a student with the opportunity to envision life, experience life, and share life in an integrated way. It understands and teaches that each aspect of the human is integral to every other aspect if the human is truly to be whole as a human being. Scripture would call this shalom—wholeness, completeness, the full and integrated life. In the School of Theology and Christian Ministry, students are invited to see how their walk with God and their preparation for ministry in the world is directly interwoven with the physical well-being, the emotional wholeness, and healthy social relationships of both themselves and those whom they serve in the world. 'Spirituality' is not separate from but the totality of the whole human. This is indeed shalom."

Suzie Barnes
Dean, School of Education

"John Dewey, one of America’s most renowned educational theorist, believed in educating the whole child – the head, the hands, the heart. This is truly the center of holistic education – educating the entire person.  In the School of Education, there are three tenets undergirding the conceptual framework – knowing, doing, and being. These three ideas correlate to Dewey’s philosophy of holistic education. The School of Education candidates acquire the conceptual knowledge and skills required to teach (knowing), put the conceptual knowledge and skills into action (doing), and obtain the dispositions needed to be an effective teacher (being). The conceptual knowledge is acquired through national standards (i.e., InTASC, ISLLC/TEL, National Board Certification) or competencies. In TASC standards, those standards upon which the initial licensure programs are based, has an additional standard which is Trevecca specific: 'The professional Christian educator embraces ethical and moral values and is able to integrate Christian Faith and learning in practice.' The School of Education recognizes the value and significance of the spiritual development for all candidates. Integration of faith into learning is crucial with field experiences taking place in diverse settings to allow candidates to be mentored by experts in the profession. Each candidate is assessed at the end of all education courses to ensure effective teaching dispositions are developing. Ultimately, when candidates leave the School of Education, they are ready to truly embody Trevecca’s philosophy: to be rather than to seem."

Jim Hiatt
Dean, School of Business and Technology

"A holistic education recognizes the interconnectedness of various academic disciplines and attempts to aid students in seeing the big picture or the grand design. In essence, a holistic approach to education is a systems approach. Often for a person to become a leader in an organization or a field of endeavor, he or she must understand the system as a whole and appreciate how a change in one part will affect others. This understanding can lead to the discovery of synergies where the sum can truly become greater than the aggregate of the system’s component parts. This philosophy of education is behind the BBA degree in the Skinner School of Business and Technology where students study a broad range of business and business-related disciplines as a foundation for good decision making, but in addition they are also required to select a specific field of study in which to concentrate thereby giving them a more manageable and narrower focus in an area in which they can become expert (and become initially employable!). Finally, a holistic approach to education recognizes mankind as not only mental and physical beings, but spiritual as well. Students are encouraged to look to God, the ultimate 'grand designer,' as the source of all knowledge, understanding, and truth."