Education is not about academics alone. For ages, we have known about the importance of holistic learning – the concept of educating the person as a whole and not just focusing on core academics. Many schools and institutions have also been able to achieve this and deliver holistic education to an extent, with extra-curricular activities and value education. But with the focus gradually shifting to online education, how do educators accomplish this?
Till recently, the idea of online education itself was a novel concept that seemed hard to execute. With the changes that the Covid-19 pandemic brought about, though, online institutes and online tutors have proven to be the saviours for many. In a situation where students were unable to leave their homes, private tutors and online classes have helped them continue their education from the comfort and safety of home.
The Obvious Caveat
With the increasing popularity of online education and home-schooling for children, the amount of time people spend in front of screens is at an all-time high. According to DataReportal, people spend up to 7 hours every day in front of screens. Covid-related lockdowns and quarantines have only increased the amount of time we spend staring at screens.
From students to working professionals (many of whom are now forced to work from home), reducing screen time is a huge challenge. Undoubtedly, this extra screentime is one of the many dangers of technology. In fact, let’s examine how it can mess up your physical and mental health:
Disruption in sleep patterns
People acquainted with the negative influences of tech know that blue light from screens can severely disrupt sleep schedules. In teenagers, it may even lead to permanent insomnia. A 2014 survey from Sleep Foundation found that 3 out of 4 teenagers spend time in front of a screen before sleeping. Light from the screens makes it difficult to fall asleep and can cause permanent disruption in our body’s circadian rhythm with prolonged use.
While using a blue light filter has become a common solution to this problem, nothing is better than spending at least an hour of no-screen time before going to bed. There’s nothing better than a good, old-fashioned book, it seems.
Screen time-induced mental health problems fall under two categories. On one hand, the very act of spending time in isolation in front of screens hampers our social interaction skills. On the other hand, social media has a proven negative effect on mental health, on adolescents especially. The conversation of social media and mental health has also entered the mainstream with movies and books on the same. In the coming years, it will be one of the biggest challenges for the young population, especially those who are at a vulnerable stage in life.
Obesity and sedentary lifestyle
Without active intervention or a strong motivating factor, many people today do not engage in any form of physical activity. The addictive nature of mobile screens is to blame for it. While social media does a great job at hooking users, the adverse effects fall on both mental and physical health. Large amounts of research have focused on the relation between screen time and obesity and found a positive correlation between the two.
While it does not seem intuitive, the effects of screen time on physical health can range from mild to extreme. The dangers of screen time are not restricted to these three factors alone. There are multiple negative effects of excessive screen time that can affect children and adults alike.
So how are online tutors preventing this?
Holistic learning in online education
Online tutoring is not an easy task. The challenges that it poses, courtesy of the distance and the virtual interactions, make it difficult enough for imparting knowledge in core academics itself. This is because the main foundations of learning in core subjects involes a lot of theoretical material. Besides this, any physical or hands-on practicals can’t be delivered so easily from remote locations. While these can be fun and engaging, they often need supervision or help to set up. In such a case, carrying out extra-curricular activities or sports or anything else participative and interactive, is far more challenging.
Nevertheless, many online tutors have overcome these challenges. They have moved on from focusing only on academics to other activities that train the mind and body of study for all-round development. Activities like meditation and yoga have become a part of the routine. Team activities like quizzes and games give students the collaboration and social skills they will need in the future.
Online institutes are also trying to build immersive and experiential activities that offer hands-on learning. The perspective on online education is changing, and both students and online tutors now need to make the best use of the technology and resources that are available to them.
Benefits of holistic learning in online education
The benefits of holistic learning, be it in traditional education or online education, are plenty. Here is how a holistic approach to teaching and learning helps:
As holistic learning promotes participation and self-guided learning, it builds self-confidence in the learners. With more interactive activities that involve teamwork, social skills, and public speaking, learners are better able to express themselves and do not hesitate to take on new assignments.
Improves problem-solving capabilities
Holistic learning helps improve learners’ problem-solving skills. By exposing them to various situations and extra-curricular activities requiring planning and a structured thought-process, their ability to break down, analyse and solve a problem is enhanced.
Improves peer-to-peer and student-teacher relationships
Holistic education encourages team activities and interaction, be it between peers or between learner and tutor. In online education too, a holistic approach can help build a stronger relationship between the student and the teacher. Team activities also teach students how to listen, brainstorm and find solutions together.
Brings more emotional stability
Education combined with activities like meditation, yoga and music helps learners train their minds to be more calm and stable. Students who participate in such activities are not easily deterred by challenging situations or hardships. They are better able to think rationally and solve problems rather than getting emotional or losing confidence.
All Together Now
Holistic learning is an approach focusing on every aspect of a student’s development. It is not only about excelling at school but also about being a better individual in the context of their families, participating in communities, and interacting in society as a whole. Online institutes and homeschools are striving, nay, gradually getting there too.
If you would like further information on holistic learning and would like help finding activities to suit you or your child, get in touch! On top of the ones mentioned in this article, we have a wide range of reccomended extra-curricular activities and clubs you can take part in – both at home and outdoors.