“The education system is not going to change unless teachers start doing things within their own classrooms,” said Samantha Husik ’20MEd, discussing her plans to implement a holistic education style in her classroom.
Husik, an English teacher at Abington Senior High School, began exploring the topic of holistic education through her podcast project, “The Learning Curve.” She defines holistic education as a practice of teaching, which centers not only on the academic growth of a student, but also on their emotional, social, and humanistic growth as an individual. Holistic educators implement practices like mental health breaks and allow students to have greater input in how to approach a subject. Husik uses her podcast as a type of audio journal to reflect upon her journey in exploring holistic education, and how she plans to add holistic philosophy within her 10th grade English curriculum for this upcoming school year.
“Another thing about holistic education is that it's showing kids their own world—so as an English teacher, having literature that reflects them,” said Husik. “It's updating the curriculum, finding things within the literature that they can actually relate to. There are so many good modern novels, say about Black Lives Matter, or a true story called the 57 Bus about gender and juvenile justice. It’s giving them things that are part of their world.”
Through holistic education, Husik hopes to teach tolerance and empathy in her lessons to students. One method she plans to implement is using socratic seminars, where teachers pose open-ended questions and facilitate discussions while students lead the conversation among themselves. By doing so, Husik believes it will help students form their own feelings on a subject, exchange ideas, and listen to opinions they had not considered before.
In the future, Husik hopes to propose a holistic course at her school titled "Social and Individual Sustainability,” which will involve students holding open-minded discussions about topics such as gender, race, religion, and environmentalism.
“[Holistic education] seemed to reflect the kind of teacher who I want to be, which is not somebody who passes on academic knowledge, it's someone who cares about all aspects of students’ personal growth.”