28 mars 2012

Holistic learning (Critical Guide, E.D. Hirsch Jr)

A term for classroom learning organized around integrated, lifelike problems and projects rather than around standard subject matter disciplines. The holistic teaching of math, for example, integrates it with lifelike situations and with other subject matters. Among the hoped-for advantages of holistic teaching are 1) increased motivation for children on the grounds that they can see the relevance of learnings which are part of larger or more realistic contexts, and 2) a more natural mode of teaching such as might be gained by life experience itself. The holistic organization of teaching is often combined with the method of "discovery learning" (which see). "Holistic learning" has essentially the same meaning as "thematic learning" and "the project method." 

It is not limited to progressivist-style projects, however. Holistic, contextualized teaching has always been a part of standard subject matter instruction, as when American history is integrated with American art in order to provide a more vivid sense of the past. 

The method is less successful when used to teach a specialized subject or skill like mathematics, which requires a lot of practice. The exclusive use of holistic or naturalistic methods has been shown to be less effective than using it sparingly within more focused, goal-directed pedagogies. As with most progressivist methods, it is not the technique itself but its injudicious overuse, in the confidence that naturalistic methods automatically lead to good results, which has made much holistic teaching ineffective.

Antipathy to subject-matter content  

"banking theory of schooling" 
"culturally-biased curriculum" 
"outcomes-based education" 
"research has shown"

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This was an excerpt from Hirsch's great book on education :
The Schools We Need 
 and Why We Don't Have Them.
Recension by Richard Askey :  

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