An Overview of Holistic Education−Pursuing a Fulfilling Life Via Holistic Education

For a long time in the evolution of human history and societies, man has been conditioned to be more observant to bodily experiences and empirical things. Although we have gained a significant understanding of the material world, we are less responsive or rather more indifferent to immaterial things. As a result, our world view has been narrowed and we have fallen prey to commodity fetishism. Therefore, we are becoming increasingly one dimensional--responsive only to materials and empirical experiences.

Unfortunately, our education system could not be exempted from this pernicious influence. Schools have become no more than a highly developed manufacturing unit. In this system, students are like raw materials processed in the machine and turned out as identical commodities to be absorbed into the job market. At best, they master the fundamental skills which may eventually allow them to become experts or professionals in their respective fields. Clearly, modern people have lost their uniqueness and subjectivity. Many do not know the meaning of their own existence. They are working machines, for they do not know why they work, and do not have a purpose or goal beyond satisfying the immediate physical demands of their existence. They may know how to manipulate high tech equipment, but they do not know how to be a husband or a wife. They may be able to calculate market trends, but they do not know how to navigate through complex human relationships. They may be able to satisfy society’s workforce needs, but they lack the means to fulfill their responsibilities as a human being. An unbalanced education system has created men and women who do not know where they are or who they are. Therefore today we need to find and recover our lost children.

Here at Chung Yuan Christian University (CYCU), we believe that holistic education is the solution. We view holistic education as a construction project from within that can light a path for those lost men and women. Holistic education at CYCU aims at “humanization,” the ultimate function education strives to provide. Students learn that between themselves (“me” or “self”) and others (themselves, society, and God), there exists a relationship and balance they need to work on in order to have a fulfilling life. That is the goal of holistic education.

The Implementation of Holistic Education

The ideals of Holistic Education are grounded in “the respect of nature and human dignity, and the pursuit of harmony among the universe, humans, matter, and the self.” This is not only our current goal of education at CYCU, but it will also be the guiding principle of a future trend of higher education in Taiwan. When implementing holistic education, “the four balances” are embodied in the philosophy, as explicated in the following:

  1. Balance between Specialty and General Knowledge
  2. Within a specialty, one is equipped with the power to complete a specialized task, while general knowledge affords one a wider yet more integrated view of life. Facing a diverse and ever-changing environment, students need to find a balance between the study of specialty and general knowledge. They need to build a knowledge framework where both can synergistically reinforce each other.

    While engaging in the vertical pursuit of specialty knowledge, university students should not lose sight of the various disciplines outside their major fields. We at CYCU aim at helping students build a well-rounded knowledge base. Emphasis is placed on helping them gain the power of empathy which can enable them to understand and appreciate other kinds of thinking or life experiences.

  3. Balance between Character-building and Knowledge-building
  4. At CYCU, we not only teach students what they need to know to excel academically, but we also place an equal emphasis on character-building. Young men and women with biased or distorted personality often are the cause of unease of the society. Such students cannot communicate with others effectively or meaningfully, and often this leads to personal problems, academic failure, or even wider social disturbance.

    Therefore, we aim to teach students to view things from different perspectives and to communicate free of prejudice. In an era that increasingly relies on team work instead of individual talent, we hope that students cultivate a sound character while building a solid base of knowledge. These two elements can bolster each other, and the resulting synergy would be to the students’ advantage.

  5. Balance between Self and Group
  6. The world is increasingly moving toward collaborative learning and there is a greater need to address the importance of interaction between self and group. Therefore, educators today must emphasize the need to maintain a balance between self and group. Students need a better self and group interaction to ensure a better and more efficient learning process. Under this principle, students are taught to serve both each other and the larger community. Students are encouraged to take part in extra-curricular activities, thereby learning to help one another and enhancing their leadership skills. In addition, they are encouraged to take part in community service and other off-campus volunteer activities. The campus is also opened to the public so that our neighbors can enjoy the university’s various facilities. It is hoped that we can build a unique campus culture whereby students and community can grow together.

  7. Balance between Body, Mind, and Spirit
  8. One of our goals in Holistic Education is to help students find a personal balance between body, mind, and spirit. CYCU can boast of having excellent facilities such as stadiums, sports fields, and an indoor heated swimming pool. CYCU students are very keen on competing in sports and other intramural competitions such as our annual freshman cheerleading contest. In addition, our first-rate health care facilities are such that few universities can match. This includes our excellent counseling team which provides timely psychiatric counseling service for faculty and students who may need it. An on-campus chaplain is also always ready to help students who wish to seek the ultimate peace that lies in the pursuit and satisfaction of Christ and God our Father.