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Monday, March 11, 2019

Why learning should be a holistic experience | Training - TrainingZone

Learning should connect elements of the human condition – mind, body, heart and spirit – to enable a deeper level of understanding and insight into behavourial change, explains Nicki Davey, founder and director of Saltbox.

Photo: Benjavisa/iStock

What does the word holistic mean to you? Maybe you associate it with wellbeing or complementary medicine? Or perhaps it’s looking at something from multiple perspectives to get an all-round view? But have you considered what it means in relation to how we help people learn?

The word holistic means being: “concerned not only with the whole but also with the interdependence of its parts, and the belief that these parts are inextricably interconnected and their interactions can only be fully understood in relation to the whole.”

I use the term holistic learning to describe learning that encompasses multiple layers of stimulus, meaning, experience and engages the whole person.
It’s about working on a physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual level to create deep, meaningful learning and powerful insights which lead to behavioural change...

What does the science say?
As experienced trainers most of us will already understand the importance of creating these holistic learning experiences for people, and if we look at ancient wisdom traditions and practices we can see that this understanding has been around for hundreds or even thousands of years. 

There is now also a growing body of evidence from neuroscience and behavioural science to support this approach. For example:
  • Hormones and neurotransmitters provide a constant communication between the mind and body so that our mental state and our physical state are inextricably linked.
  • The more sensory stimulation we receive, the more neural connections are formed, improving the organisation and functional activity of the brain and helping to form long lasting memories, which can be recalled easily when necessary.
  • Physical movement increases the oxygenation of the brain and the production of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor – essential for neural development) for improved cognitive processing, memory, and recall.
  • Physical exercise strengthens the cerebellum which is directly linked to the parts of the brain involved in memory, attention, cognitive processing, and problem-solving.
  • We use more parts of our brain and create a “mental web” of information when we look for or discover answers for ourselves rather than being given information, helping us to store, retrieve, and use what we have learnt more effectively.
  • “Neurons that are fired together are wired together” – when different experiences occur together, the neural pathways for these are physically connected in our brain, for example we may connect a particular emotion with a particular situation.
  • The brain doesn't distinguish between real or imagined activity so just by imagining or visualising doing something we can create the same physical changes in the brain as if we were doing it for real...
The Holistic Learning Handbook: A practical guide for Teachers and Trainers by Nicki Davey and illustrated by Lauren Goodey, is due for publication by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in late 2019.

Source: TrainingZone