Teaching the whole Child

A curriculum, if used correctly should serve as an integral part of an educator’s daily life.  It should guide the students throughout the year as a map would.  The curriculum should not be used as the teacher’s solitary tool in the classroom, and is also not able to serve its purpose if brought in and out of the routine haphazardly.  A strong curriculum will help to guide students throughout the year to meet developmentally appropriate goals, check for understanding, and build independence through scaffolding.  The most important characteristic of a solid curriculum however, is the person delivering it. 

Students need to feel that they are valued at school.  If teachers don’t invest some time building relationships with their students, they won’t get to know them enough to realize when something isn’t quite right. Students need to be treated with respect and if they don’t feel comfortable in the school environment, there’s no way they are going to be able to succeed when asked to perform academically. 

This philosophy is most comparable to progressivism in that it takes into consideration the child’s social and emotional state. If we give empathy to adults going through a difficult time in their lives, shouldn’t we give the same consideration to our students? These children need to be taught how to deal with their emotions, and school is the perfect place to do it.  

“The Progressives quite correctly recognized that children do not park their emotions on the threshold to the school as they enter. What a child had experienced and how he or she was feeling was directly relevant to the teacher’s professional aims.”  (Eisner, p.  51) Asking a child to put their emotions to the side is unhealthy and unrealistic; they should be learning vocabulary to discuss emotions and solving their own problems as well as learning different ways to cope with their emotions. This is what a curriculum would look like to teach to the whole child; academic goals connected with social and emotional objectives to help students succeed in the real world and build positive relationships with their teachers as well as their peers and to enjoy being in the school environment.

Eisner, E. W, (1985) The Educational Imagination: On the Design and Evaluation of School Programs.        Columbus, OH: Merrill Prentice Hall.