"Education today, more than ever before, must see clearly the dual objectives: Education for living and educating for making a living.” James Mason Wood
One of the founding principles of tackling education from a holistic approach, as opposed to the traditional approach, are to view education from an integrative and dynamic perspective.
The world in which we operate is continually changing and evolving at a phenomenal rate, and in order for our students to not only survive but to indeed thrive, new strategies and tactics are required. In order to execute these changes, a paradigm shift is needed from the educator community. In addition, students need to learn to adopt an adaptive attitude, rather than the ‘education treadmill’ syndrome, where students are force-fed prescribed material, which they faithfully reproduce in exams.
As Henry Ford, who revolutionized the automobile industry, once said: - “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it”.
The importance of holistic education versus traditional education is that the majority of the focus is on core academics to the exclusion of other element.
Figure 1: An Overview of Elements of Holistic Education
Important guiding principle is to develop the students to become multifaceted talented individuals who will adapt and thrive in an ever-changing and disruptive environment.
Referring to figure 1 above, It must be recognized that from a holistic perspective, that each of these elements, when combined in the correct proportions will produce a synergistic energy. Each of these elements will be discussed in more detail below.
Before launching into a detailed discussion on each of these components, some background on the current situation placement situation is warranted.
As described The findings in the Financial Times 2018 skills gap survey2showed that the top five skills that employers are looking for in potential candidates have traditionally been known as “soft skills” as shown in the figure 2 below:-
Figure 2: The most important skills employers are seeking Most important skills: Top Five
Ability to work
in a Team
Employers and graduates agree on four out of the five most important skills, but companies value the ability to network more and graduates find the ability to influence others more important.
On the other hand, the survey also outlined the skills that they find exceedingly difficult to find as detailed in figure 3 below:-
Figure 3: The Skills that employers find most difficult to find.
Most difficult skills to recruit: Top Five
Two of the skills most difficult to recruit-drive and resilience and ability to solve complex problems are also among the skills MBA Graduates claim to be most proficient in
It is interesting to note that both the most important skills to employers (figure 2), as well as the skills that employers find so scarce (figure 3) are both congruent and relevant to the identified suggested elements of a holistic education approach.
Discussion of some focus areas of a holistic approach
Critical thinking skills and Problem solving
The financial times survey discussed above, as well as a multitude of other surveys, all tend to list critical thinking skills and problem solving as two sought after skills when choosing MBA graduates for placement.
Industry is looking for candidates who have the ability to determine root causes of issues, in a effective and efficient manner. How ever, it is not enough just to conduct successful root cause analysis, but the real test is to be able to solve the issue by innovative and creative critical thinking.
Grooming, business communications, social skills and etiquette
Some thing that has been sorely lacking in many of the top management colleges in India, as well as many international business schools, is the element of grooming students on how to communicate, how to present themselves and how to conduct themselves in different business and social settings. In the era of globalization, it is critical that students are taught about diversity and the many different cultural situations that they might face.
Of course, it goes without saying that it is a critical success factor in the process of successfully placing students.
Hands on practical training and social learning projects
One the vital aspects of educating the whole student are to immerse the student in practical learning exercises. One effective way is to guide the students in planning and implementing a community-based project, to uplift a cosen sector of the community
Apart from the valuable learning’s around management skills such as planning, leading, organizing and controlling, there is other deep and personal learning that take place in this growth path. This learning centers around emotional and spiritual growth:- learning about diversity as well as people who are often face constraints and challenges that many of us are often not aware of.
Implementation of holistic learning
A very relevant and current philosophy was aptly described Dr. Richa Arora , group CEO of Regenesys Business School, a leading International Business School who have campuses in Johannesburg South Africa, Navi Mumbai India and Lagos in Nigeria. Dr Richa, in a recent presentation to prominent business directors3 , Described the vision of Regenesys as :- “Building leaders and managers who have superiority in terms of emotional quotient :- not just graduates, but well rounded and capable individuals for whom technological innovations like artificial intelligence and robotics, simply cannot replace”
Furthermore, in describing the holistic pedagogy of Regenesys, that the Regenesys way of learning is to “gain knowledge through practice, real life application and self involvement".