whose aim is to promote a new way of thinking about education
and provide schools with concrete systematic solutions.
A word from Michał Dziuda,
the Founder of Holistic Think Tank
The Holistic perspective on education is fundamental to our Think Tank’s message.
Life is a whole. The bond between knowledge and wisdom, both derived from life and designed to serve life, constitutes a holistic unit. Education is not a mere collection of stand-alone disciplines; history is not merely history, nor geography merely geography. The said subjects are also to be found in physics and chemistry, biology and philosophy, literature and ethics. Education is a whole.
At each and every moment of our Being, the world both transforms and remains a uniform whole. The closer we are to this whole, the better our understanding of the changes – the easier it will be for us to overcome barriers, to join together what has been put asunder, dispersed, and disconnected from the whole.
Together with a team of devoted experts we put our efforts into researching and disseminating ideas for the fundamental transformation of elementary school curriculum towards teaching for intelligence, communication, and social cooperation, for developing the abilities to make right choices, and for increasing proficiency at both individual study and lifelong self-improvement. Throughout the process we strive to maintain harmony with our planet’s natural environment and remain mindful of its history.
Under the present system of education, teaching is reduced to preparing graduates for subsequent educational stages, in particular, for the academic level. Such a direction fails to reflect our humanist progress, which we only perpetuate by living in peace with one another, by mutual respect, and by mutual assistance.
We want to investigate and demonstrate that most of the curricular content in schools today is anachronistic, largely inapplicable, and pointless, including in terms of the time squandered on learning it, which could otherwise be used to learn much more useful skills.
The current system of education inherited its curriculum, as well as the content of its schoolbooks from generations that were taught to obey authority and the state rather than to develop self-awareness and transform the world for the better as the independent individuals that each of us essentially are. It is our goal, therefore, to provide new school curricula, didactic tools, and methods.
At the present time it is crucial to adapt quickly, to produce ever-new tools incessantly, and to gain up-to-date skills. Moreover, it seems necessary to develop an alternative, fresh perspective on our history, and what lies ahead of us. An appropriate education should be conducive to the process of reshaping politics and its values. While the purpose of politics should be searching for solutions that would best serve the community, the politicians holding offices today are much too often power-hungry and cynical, and their sole objective is to amass and maintain power. They do it by organising structures based on tentative and superficial values.
The transformation of the system of education should counteract the said attitudes displayed by politicians, foster the ability to recognise them, and, as a result, allow citizens to make well-informed, better choices. The purpose of education is to facilitate the use of free will on the path of the human being’s continued, conscious evolution towards humanistic values. Our Holistic Think Tank aims to make the exploration of the best facets of human existence possible, by harmonizing its shapes and forms with institutional reality.
the Holistic Think Tank’s Founder
and Executive Chairman
Why we need to devise a new, interdisciplinary school subject (IDS)
Schools of today teach multitude of skills and provide students with a plethora of information. At the same time they do not explain how to apply the said skills and information in practice. Therefore, schools do not equip their students with an insight for leading a good and wise life.
We work on a new, interdisciplinary subject to integrate school with reality outside the classroom.
We believe that a new, interdisciplinary school subject (IDS) will be instrumental in changing the picture. The new subject shall be a bond and common denominator of fragmented knowledge contained in the mutually isolated school subjects of today. The raison d’être of the new subject is to transform school into a place conducive to finding happiness in the future.
Through IDS, we strive to:
- strengthen young people’s competences in the area of conscious and active participation in social life;
- teach them how to find themselves in relation to the world, nature and their own body;
- enable their self-development in terms of personality, intelligence, sensitivity, and worldview;
- show them how to plan their own life path and manage inevitable changes;
- familiarize them with the idea of science and learning through the ability to manipulate data and formulate conclusions;
- give them the tools to deal with the aggression of the world and redefine what it means to be successful; and finally
- attain any other relevant aim that our research shall reveal.
Reality outside classrooms abounds with sources of knowledge and opportunities to obtain skills that hardly ever find their way into school curricula. The prospective interdisciplinary subject will be a comprehensive solution for it. Its aim is not to replace any particular curriculum, but rather to broaden and rejuvenate it. After all, the broadly understood school environment can and should be inclusive. Then, the new subject will become a space to flourish for students and teachers alike, and for anyone who deeply cares for children and the youth.
Holistic Think Tank
In focus: What Schools Ought to Teach (WSOT)
Schools ought to teach students:
How to confront themselves with challenges, including especially »
problem formulation, that is, being able to formulate a problem at many levels of abstraction, presenting it in a concise form that facilitates its further analysis and with a view to solving it later on by employing different methods and tools;
problem decomposition, that is, being able to break the problem into components (constitutive elements) and reduce it to easily solvable elements (recursion);
problem solving, in other words: finding the way out of a novel situation based on previously acquired knowledge and skills/competencies;
collection and ordering of data, that is, drawing data in from all available sources and ordering it logically to facilitate its further analysis;
critical thinking, which encompasses the practical skills involved in finding and interpreting information and the competences of proper judgement and effective reasoning related thereto.
How to function in relation to the world and nature, as well as with one’s own body. In particular they should focus on »
searching out recurrent patterns, reasoning abstractly, and creating models, especially finding schema, identifying regularities and repetitive sequences of patterns occurring in a concept, as well as being able to present those data that are essential while eliminating those that are not, and to generalize and present a problem as a model or simulation;
understanding causal relations, along with correspondences between the past, the present, and the future, particularly: a proper comprehension of occurring dependencies, and understanding of how change and the continuation process happen, along with their relation to the present and the future;
sustaining, tending to, and justly distributing both natural and cultural resources, which means being aware of the common good and responsibility for the world, in particular in conscious choices and acts aimed at the common good;
making choices based on the common good, therefore based on empathy towards others and sustainable usage of natural resources, as well as cooperation with nature.
The ideas of science and scholarship (learning), including especially »
respect for scientific and scholarly achievements, namely, to hold truth, scientific facts, and research heritage in high regard, while remaining open to new developments;
how to analyze sources, namely, how to understand the context in which facts are presented, along with the possibility of their different interpretation relative to the standpoint or perspective being assumed;
positive attitude towards learning and an attitude of openness in relation to new experiences, which should translate into discovering gaps in one’s own knowledge, based on which new developmental goals are then set, in addition to the attitude of lifelong learning, in accordance with which acquiring knowledge is a process both variable and dynamic;
knowledge both empowering one to think and act autonomously in a given field, and subsequently generating further knowledge, namely, how to first use knowledge independently and then use it to seek further knowledge instead of deriving it from others’ expressed experiences;
self-regulated learning, namely, an efficient and self-reliant process for planning, estimating, forecasting, and noticing one’s own capabilities, and being able to determine the level of usefulness of each of them.
How to function in society. In particular they should emphasize »
participation, that is, an active engagement in the educational process, where an active individual becomes co-responsible for his or her own development and thereby also for other social processes;
respect, that is, evident appreciation of a variety of opinions and beliefs, and due regard for different cultures and religions, as well as for human rights, justice, etc.;
reflection, that is, the ability to contribute to society accompanied by a critical approach; capacity for well thought-out and responsible participation in the economic, social, cultural, and political life, as well as for presenting a critical stance towards prevalent but transient/changeable values, along with an ability to order such values hierarchically;
ways to deal with conflicts, that is, searching for solutions that will be workable and beneficial for all parties involved, wise use of others’ assistance, ability to admit one’s own mistakes and errors, demonstrating understanding towards others’ stances, and preventing the deepening of divisions;
recognition of bias and privilege, that is, perceiving one’s own prejudices and cultivating the ability to identify privilege both in oneself and in others, including in everyday institutional functioning, as well as recognizing the impact of the foregoing on society and its internal dynamics and relationships.
Aesthetic and cultural awareness, including especially »
how to assign meaning, in particular, how to decode the culturally significant elements in one’s everyday reality, and how to recognize different values and various shades of meaning;
aesthetic competencies, especially in the context of language usage; how to transfer the aesthetic qualities of language associated with higher art into one’s everyday language;
awareness of sound, which means using the full potential of sounds to mark mathematical and material similarities, differences, and qualities of subjects one deals with;
conversation analysis (CA), that is, being capable of recognizing the aesthetic aspects of non-verbal communication comprising bodily gestures, and facial expression or countenance, therefore noticing such physical aspects as to facilitate greater acknowledgement of an individual’s circumstances;
creativity, namely, how to actualize one’s natural potential through activity pertaining to various fields of art (music, the visual and graphic arts, as well as other creative fields).
How to function in variable contexts and environments. In particular they should teach »
how to deal with differences, therefore, knowledge of cultural differences and of appropriate rules of behaviour in various social situations, especially unfamiliar ones; awareness of prejudice and discrimination, ability to adapt to the wishes or needs of others, and considering the consequences of differences between people and various cultural backgrounds for important social processes, such as exclusion or inclusion;
local and global understanding, that is, the understanding of the contemporary world both as a whole and as the particular processes – political, social, economic, and any others, that shape it; connecting global issues with their corresponding local dimensions;
global literacy, that is, understanding people from other cultures who speak different languages, and being able to interact and cooperate with them;
effective and constructive tools for interacting with others, namely, confidence, responsibility, autonomy, initiative, cooperation, empathy, self-awareness, listening, flexibility, and adaptability.
How to function in relation to the state. In particular they should focus on »
social justice, namely, overcoming systemic and structural inequalities, as well as dealing with power relations that pertain to everyday interactions, including amongst children, and between children and their teachers, tutors, and care providers;
social responsibility, that is, knowledge and the attitudes stemming therefrom, that facilitate consideration of common good and shared social interest in making one’s decisions, such as: solidarity, non-discrimination, a sense of belonging, and a protective outlook towards environmental and cultural heritage;
democratic action, that is, an ability to stress legitimate entitlement in interactions with political authorities;, participating in civil society; being able to engage in activism and initiate change.
Entrepreneurship, particularly »
financial decision-making, that is, the analytical competencies along with the necessary tools for making wise financial decisions;
being proactive, namely, single-handedly initiating activities and assuming accountability for them;
planning, that is, dividing learning and future endeavours into periods and portions determined by reasonable goals;
hope, that is, envisioning the future in such a way that it motivates one to follow through with endeavours;
tenacity, that is, due perseverance in one’s endeavours and pursuits.
Interpersonal communication. In particular they should teach »
communication skills and ability to change perspectives, that is, getting both one’s intentions and actions across whilst communicating them to one’s leaders, representatives, and fellow citizens; being capable of listening to one another, understanding other people’s interests, and attaining compromise within communities; developing a capacity for effective conflict resolution and respect for different perspectives;
how to properly verbalize one’s thoughts, that is, making use of appropriate terminology to verbalize discovered meanings and communicate them to others, thereby conveying them;
understanding language culture, that is, the place and significance of a given language as an element of a particular culture; acknowledging the advantages of a given language and deploying them in different contexts, as well as recognizing cultural codes of language.
Self-development, including especially »
how to attain a state of anticipatory emptiness, namely, the readiness to accept an unexpected meaning; an attitude of openness both to development and to discoveries, narratives, and non-obvious interpretations; mindfulness; openness with no preconceived expectation;
how to be humane, which means causing no harm, and exhibiting sympathy, empathy, and self-control, as well as kindness and benevolence;
how to remain aware of one’s own uniqueness, that is, how to understand one’s own changeability in time and individual rate of development based on a multitude of patterns;
self-assessment and self-evaluation, that is, how to draw conclusions, learn from both positive and negative experiences, and display a healthy attitude towards one’s shortcomings, losses, defeats, and inadequacies, in addition to openness to feedback;
self-awareness, which should translate into being capable of making judgements, keeping promises, reasoning, and articulating one’s thoughts by means of both spoken and written language and other means, as well as of transcending one’s “self” and perceiving oneself as an element of a greater whole; ensuring that humanity remains connected to the world of nature;
intellectual humility, that is, the ability to doubt one’s own knowledge without discrediting what one has already learned;
how to remain life-oriented, namely, how to orient oneself toward broadly-understood life while fulfilling a necessarily narrowly focussed professional career.
HOW WE WORK
We are open to cooperation with anyone who shares our values. Therefore, we offer a grant to develop an interdisciplinary subject (IDS) aiming to one day introduce it to schools around the world.
Our growing team consists of experts in their fields focused on implementing changes in education. We both analyze the latest achievements of science and educational practice, and conduct our own empirical research on school environments.
The results of our work are presented at an annual educational symposium bringing together the most eminent researchers and educators.
TEAMMore about us
holds a doctorate in health science along with a degree in philosophy. Over the years, while remaining an enthusiastic educator, she has been researching and tracking education system changes with a particular focus on alternative education. As a researcher she worked for the Educational Research Institute, the Association for Open Education, and the “House of Peace” Foundation.
is the Holistic Think Tank’s researcher whose own educational path has been long and winding. Having obtained a Master’s degree in both law and sociology, along with a Bachelor’s at the Centre for Comparative Studies of Civilisations (all three degrees at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków), he then received a postgraduate degree in international migration from the University of Warsaw. Currently, he is pursuing double PhD in law and sociology at the Jagiellonian University. Simultaneously, he manages a research project on the impact of institutional and legal factors on the choice of acculturation strategies among foreigners in Poland.