Systems Project / A Holistic Approach to Education

By: Robin J. Engel

Sys 540

Vernon Thacker

Univ. of  Phoenix

April 22, 2003

Systems Project / A Holistic Approach to Education

            This paper will explain the systems view of processes as being synonymous with a holistic approach to education. The author will appeal to organizations for potential funding in order to start a charter high school. At the present time, this project exists only in the minds of a few visionaries.

            The mission of this organization is to educate students using a holistic approach to learning, while utilizing state of the art technologies in order to facilitate research and the development of new products and paradigms.  Holistic education can be defined as “the growth of every person’s intellectual, emotional, social, physical, artistic, creative, and spiritual potentials.” (HENT, 2002) It is the express hope of this organization to bridge  psycho-spiritual and scientific technologies, seeing youth as the benefactors and natural facilitators of this process.  Young adults are the people most comfortable with new technologies and ideas, not yet stifled in the protocols of adulthood. Nurtured in a fast-paced modern world, the idea of rapid transformation is innate. They are the change agents of our society. Unfortunately, in too many cases, this scenario has created youth that needs immediate gratification. The main goal of this organization is to access their natural creativity, and their proclivity for action, and in so doing, enable these adolescents to create their own visions of the future.

            The creation of a new learning institution requires a comparison of existing facilities. The formation of this organization is a project unto itself, with numerous sub-projects. Performance improvements intend to be made by the development of a cutting-edge, unique idea that has no benchmarks for comparison in many areas due to the unusual nature of the project. However, insofar as this organization will ultimately be a public school and must address the core subjects as would any public school, performance metrics can be used to assess these fundamental issues. These subjects will taught both as part of the integrated curriculum and as stand-alone subject areas. Therefore, it is not necessary to address these in the scope of this paper, except to note that they will not and cannot be overlooked in the facilitation of the school.

            Instead, the author will discuss three curriculum areas that are unique to the school and how they correlate to the goals of the school. First, the goals must be defined, along with a set of stated metrics in order to determine how one will know if those goals have been met.

The goals of this exploratory learning institute will be as follows:

The student will...

Following is a rubric being considered for the assessment of the aforementioned criteria:


# 1 = Holistic Critical Thinking Rubric


The highest grade

Excellent work; highest level of mastery of the material and scholarship; shows distinction in the quality of thinking, effort and results.

Excellent work; highest level of mastery of the material and scholarship; shows distinction in the quality of thinking, effort and results.


Work of distinction

Exceeds expectations in mastery of the material and scholarship. Quality of thinking, effort and results are more than acceptable.

Meets expectations for graduate work in terms of mastery of the material and scholarship. Quality of thinking, effort and results are acceptable.


Average work

Work that meets expectations in the level of mastery and scholarship. Quality of thinking, effort and results are acceptable.

Work that is minimally acceptable at the graduate level. A passing grade for a course but below overall expectations for graduates of a master's program.


Passing, but unsatisfactory

Work that does not meet basic expectations in terms of mastery and scholarship. Quality of thinking, effort and results are below acceptable levels.

Work that does not meet basic expectations in terms of mastery and scholarship; not considered passing at the graduate level.


Failure without credit

Work that shows little mastery of the material and scholarship. Quality of thinking, effort and results are unacceptable.

Work that shows little mastery of the material and scholarship. Quality of thinking, effort and results are unacceptable


The achievement of these goals will be facilitated by the unique curriculums. This paper will explore four of these, including the multimedia curriculum, environmental technologies, holistic systems, and life skills.

            Multimedia technologies are the future. The institution will partner with corporations and companies that seek to further their research with these mediums for several reasons: as tools for the administration of curriculum, as venues for the creation of projects that will demonstrate their academic acumen, and as research projects in and of themselves whereby the students will engineer and design addendums to the existing technologies.


Multimedia Technologies

A wide variety of hardware will be available including video cameras, television / movie studio equipment, audio equipment, virtual technologies, and computers. Students Computers will be equipped with educational software such as Compass, as well as software such as ACAD or Photoshop, enabling them to fully utilize the compatible multimedia software. Core curriculum will be integrated into the multimedia projects such as historical documentaries, story sequencing, or video debates. The possibilities are endless.


Environmental Technologies

            Research is the key to the future. There is none better to do research than someone who does not know that something can’t be done due to previous experience. Youth has this advantage – a fresh perspective on the world, sitting on their potential, bold enough to venture into new ideas. Therefore, it is the intention of this institution to utilize this potential ability to further research that benefits the student, the local community, indeed, the community of the planet, thus creating an empathetic individual and thereby fostering holistic world views.

            Technology can be said to be an extension of the human spirit insofar as it is a creation of our intellect and the human is by nature a creative being. However, not all technology is superior and must be chosen with discretion in order to sustain life. The research of this learning facility chooses to perpetuate research that will benefit the proliferation of life on the planet. Alternative (other than the predominant, current technologies) technologies will be pursued such as hydroponics, alternative energy sources, and ergonomics. The core subjects can be applied in the study of architecture, agriculture, and fuel consumption. Higher order thinking skills will be exercised while considering the implications of these applied sciences. The student will explore the ramifications of said technologies on planetary systems, thus examining a holistic worldview.

            The students will compare hydroponic gardening with other techniques. They will study all forms of energy consumption while implementing experimental and alternative technologies such as hydrogen power, wind power, and solar power. They will go on excursions to Biosphere II and Arcosanti to witness the actual implementation of these ideas. They will design structures, both miniature and full scale, that implements many of the ergonomic principals. All the research and application of their curricula will be conducted in the context of a holistic approach to life on earth.


Whole Being Holistic Therapies

            Holistic education was earlier defined as being concerned with every component of an individual’s potential. This institution wishes to directly address all of these, believing that if there is a deficit in one area then others are sure to suffer. The tenet of holistic education therefore demands that all areas are equally addressed. Academic potential (intellectual capability) is rarely reached when a student is lacking in emotional or spiritual (in a non-sectarian sense) nourishment. Thus, the school will explore all the facets of the self (individual) in order to comprise a well-rounded education. The institution recognizes the need for balance - in a person, in an organization, in the world community, indeed, in any well functioning system.

            The institution will address the concerns of the whole student. Therefore, curriculum will be administered in the areas of personal development, metaphysics, and health. Private and group counseling will be offered. Instructional curriculum in alternative health therapies will be offered such as relexology, aikido, meditation classes, nutritional therapies, and Chinese medicine. A comparison of traditional and alternative methodologies will be explored.


Life Skills

            Knowledge without application and evaluation is worthless. Two clichés, which aptly expresses these thoughts, are “knowledge is dangerous” and “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Too many students graduate from high school and can’t reconcile a checkbook or even write a check. They can quote Shakespeare but they don’t have the life skills necessary to function in a life without parents or school. The “school of hard knocks” is a good school, but in this fast paced world, the student and the society suffer from their lack of appropriate skills. Therefore, this institution will offer curriculum that directly teaches skills such as resume writing, budgeting, cooking, grocery shopping, consumer education, automotive savvy, and other such life skills.


            The formation of this school is a radical idea in education. This school will be a model for others to follow suit. While the boundaries between teens and adults become less defined, it will be increasingly necessary to ease the transition from school to community. By partnering with this institution, the benefits are two-fold. First, your corporation will be seen as the benevolent philanthropist by educating today’s youth and preparing them to become useful members of the society. Secondly, and perhaps more important to your bottom line, the cost benefit to your corporation by training students who may become your most treasured employees. These students can test prototypes or offer creative ideas to your research for the price of donating tax deductible equipment to the school. In addition, they will be groomed to work for you in the manner in which you would train your employees. Tap into the creative talents of these youth by funding our project. Thank you for your support.

References    Holistic Education Network of Tasmania, Inc., 2002