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From holistic worldview to holistic education: Cross-boundary journeys of educators toward integrative learning and integral being

Fan Yihong, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study was a phenomenological inquiry into the concrete and lived experiences of educators in a holistic school in Ecuador and from the founder of a creativity methodology program in Vietnam. These educators embarked on the remarkable journey from realizing the importance of holistic worldview to bringing about holistic education. The purpose of the study was to explore the significance of holistic worldview for education through investigating life-world stories. Using in-depth phenomenological interviews, the study explored these educators' past experiences, their present experiences and the integration of their past experiences with their present experiences. From a cross-case synthesis the salient themes and patterns evolved and unfolded into an interwoven web of knowing, doing, being and becoming. When this web is displayed in a two dimensional form it depicts the four most important dimensions of holistic educators: (1) the integrated knowing of the self, the subject, the students and the world; (2) the harmonious doing to create nurturing learning environments; (3) the genuine being to serve as authentic modeling; and (4) the ever-evolving becoming that seeks deeper meaning and larger purpose of life. When transform this web to a three-dimensional spiral, it portrays the dynamic, evolving, uplifting and transcending nature of the journey of holistic educators, where the four elements merge into an ultimate oneness that represents the essence of holistic educators. As Mario Solís suggests in my interview with him, “in a deep sense, my capacity as an educator comes from my choice to allow life to unfold through me and to demonstrate from my entire being.” The study manifests that when educators' entire being lives through their knowing and strives for becoming, namely, a higher purpose and deeper meaning of life, their vision and mission are not empty words on paper but rather a reality of life that they have created as the result of drawing from energy and resources from the creative, implicate order of life. The major insight of the journeys of these holistic educators is about touching the higher values of themselves, allowing themselves to manifest the excellence from within, and in turn, allowing others to manifest their inner resources, creativity and excellence. The study demonstrates how the holistic educators have successfully created a caring, nurturing, and nourishing learning environment where loving for life, appreciating relationship, learning to live and to create, living to transcend, and educating for peace are modeled and fostered.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Educational theory

Recommended Citation

Yihong, Fan, "From holistic worldview to holistic education: Cross-boundary journeys of educators toward integrative learning and integral being" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3056222.