Holistic Teaching in Higher Education

Southern Asia August 15, 2022

We often think of elementary classrooms when talking about holistic education, but holistic education is just as important in college as it is in elementary schools. As I was walking through the corridors of my college one day, I came across one of Ellen G. White’s most profound quotes about education: “True education has to do with the whole being. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers.”

A few days later, I came across a definition of holistic education online that reminded me of Ellen G. White’s quote. It read, “Holistic education is a comprehensive approach to imparting education where educators seek to address the emotional, social, ethical, physical and academic needs of students in an integrated learning format.” I was fascinated by the idea of understanding each student individually through taking into consideration many aspects. I read about its implementation and how it has helped teachers better understand and fill student needs, while helping them find purpose in life. 

Holistic education teaches traditional concepts in the context of real-world situations. When students go to college, they may ask themselves questions like “Why am I in college?” or “What should I do next?” or “Is the course of study that I’m enrolled in really for me?”. Holistic education can help them answer these questions. It emphasizes the need for students to define their identity and their goals in life, which is what every student seeks: to work towards a goal and achieve more in their fields of specialization. We can achieve this by educating the whole student through curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. 

One way to achieve holistic education is by giving your projects and assignments a twist. For example, instead of having students write a paper, split your students into teams of 5, give them a situation related to the subject and ask them to act it out in class. Instead of merely asking them to prepare slides to present in class, ask them to play the role of a successful businessman discussing his expertise. In addition to triggering their creative potential, this type of assignment also makes them more considerate to other people’s feelings by putting themselves into the situation. 

Holistic education doesn’t make the student the center of the classroom; it teaches them that they are a part of a whole. That understanding leads them to be more caring and compassionate towards their fellow students, enriching them spiritually and making them better human beings. Subtle modifications in your teaching approach can help you make a difference in a student’s outlook, ultimately leading to educating the whole person.


Ankush Mohan

Mohan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Management at Metas Adventist College, Surat, India.


  • | September 1, 2022 at 9:35 am

    Thanks for giving practical examples of how to engage students at the secondary and tertiary level in holistic education. Students are more successful with personal choice that applies learning to real life through case studies, role play, internships, etc. They are more motivated when we listen to their goals and advise them into classes that best fit who God is leading them to be; not pushing our agenda to keep certain classes open. When we educate for eternity, coming alongside our students, we all grow holistically.

  • | September 1, 2022 at 10:17 am

    I like the authors approach to holistic education by engaging students in role play type of project.

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