A holistic curriculum is the type of curriculum that doesn’t just aim to teach academic subjects but also aims to develop a child holistically by fostering their psychological, emotional, moral, spiritual, and physical growth.
Some of the goals of the holistic curriculum are to cultivate a love for lifelong learning and facilitating connection with others in society (as well as the natural world).
A holistic curriculum is tailored to children’s skills and feelings; the lessons give students an opportunity to develop their strengths in a safe and supportive environment.
Schools that use holistic curriculums might provide hands-on experiences, encourage self-guided learning (by allowing students to set their own pace), encourage students to connect with other members of the community, and so on.
The holistic curriculum is employed in the progressive education movement, which stands in opposition to the traditional style of instruction. Progressive educators believe that it is more important to teach children how to think, rather than make them simply memorize facts about the topic. The idea of learning by doing forms the basis for this education philosophy. Advocates of this approach claim that students who experienced progressive education are better equipped to tackle pressures later in life and they become more productive members of society.
On the one hand, progressive educators recognize the interests and creativity of individual students. By engaging in hands-on projects and collaborating with their peers, students can express themselves and pursue the things they are truly passionate about. The proponents of this approach say that in this way students develop a love for the education process and continue learning independently throughout their lives. Students are able to use their critical thinking skills not only inside the classroom but outside, in the real world as well.
On the other hand, some opponents of progressive education have criticized the approach for the lack of explicit teaching. They say that not enough attention is being paid to memorizing facts in the academic subjects that require it (such as science, math, history, geography, and foreign languages).
In the end, despite the drawbacks, the benefits of education, in general, are undeniable (be it holistic or otherwise). And progressive education with a holistic curriculum can be used to fill the gap left by the memorization-based traditional education system.