Why a holistic and participatory approach matters
Holistic learning: what does that means?
Human rights issues concern the whole person (body, mind and soul) and all dimensions of everyday life. Each person lives, in a sense, in the whole world and everything is interrelated, so it is considered that human rights education should include a holistic learning approach. Holistic learning thus promotes the development of the whole person, his or her intellectual, emotional, social,physical, artistic, creative and spiritual potential.
Holistic learning should take place in a social context that encompasses all daily experiences and is therefore interdisciplinary and transversal to the traditional subjects of the school curriculum. A holistic approach also means that it seeks to address and involve the cognitive, practical and behavioural dimensions of learning, enabling people to apply this learning in their attitudes or behaviour and how to apply it in the exercise of citizenship and for human rights, individually or with others. In this holistic approach it is equally important to take into account differentiated learning, in a logic of appropriate integration and inclusion.
Participation: what for?
Participation means that children and young people are more informed and aware of the reality around them, being part of the decision-making process and developing various skills, active listening, critical thinking, debate and joint reflection, empathy and respect for others, taking responsibility for their own decisions and actions. As such, participation requires a supportive, transparent and honest environment that encourages learners/participants to take responsibility for the activities and processes in which they are involved.
The Participation Tree
Citizenship education / Democratic citizenship education
According to the Council of Europe Charter on Democratic Citizenship Education and Human Rights Education, “Democratic citizenship education and human rights education are closely interrelated and mutually supportive. They differ more in focus and scope than in objectives and practices. Democratic citizenship education focuses primarily on democratic rights and responsibilities and active participation in relation to the civic, political, social, economic, legal and cultural spheres of society, while human rights education is concerned with the broader spectrum of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of people’s lives”.
Actually, the citizenship education curriculum includes topics on politics and government, the legal system, the media, multiculturalism and equal opportunities.
So, in conclusion, Global education practitioners recognise the importance of adopting a holistic approach. The Maastricht Declaration on Global Education (2002) states that global education is education that opens people’s eyes and minds to the realities of the globalizing world and awakens them to a world of greater justice, equality and human rights for all. It covers development education, human rights education, education for sustainability, education for peace and conflict prevention and intercultural education.