Holistic Wheel of Education
“Holistic education is a philosophy of education based on the premise that each person finds identity, meaning, and purpose in life through connections to the community, to the natural world, and to humanitarian values such as empathy, responsibility and celebrating diversity” (R. Miller, Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice). The Holistic Wheel of Education, created by our principal, Tim Miller, builds on this philosophy using a model where 5 key components are necessary to create a “tailored education for the whole child.” The 5 key areas that are taught and practiced both directly and interdependently are individualized educational programs, hands-on studies, social-emotional learning, fine arts, and connection to the world. Each piece connects to and supports the greater whole in a more comprehensive educational experience. Together they enable a student to thrive in an environment where they continually learn about themselves, relationships, resilience, opportunity, and aesthetics. At Wilkinson School, our view is that education should be meaningful for all learners, and the model of Holistic Wheel of Education provides meaning by recognizing the intellectual, emotional, social, physical, creative, ethical, and psychological dimensions of each student.
1. Individualized Education Programs
At Wilkinson School, each student is on a specialized program that looks to challenge, support, and celebrate individuality. Each child is kept at an educational level that promotes continuous growth and improvement. Each student may be placed ahead of grade, on grade level or on a remedial program, while still participating in a grade level class during most parts of the day. The student will also be placed in the appropriate level for each subject, allowing for the possibility of acceleration in some areas and more support in others. A student is never labeled, but instead, guided to new levels with each new quarter and school year.
Our staff delivers on individualized educational programs not possible at most schools. Because of our small size, unbeatable staff to student ratio, a schedule that includes one-on-one enrichment and the overall holistic approach, we are able to manage each student’s program with weekly meetings, parent involvement, and impactful relationships.
2. Hands-on Studies
For over 35 years, Wilkinson School has practiced a philosophy of education that infuses direct experience with the learning environment and content. Trips around the world, special seminars with experts in many fields, scientific experiment and invention, visits to museums, professional performances, and student-driven projects are some of the ways our students learn empirically. This approach cultivates a joy of learning with connection and discovery.
3. Social-emotional Learning
Emotional and social intelligence can be a key determinant of an individual’s success in life. At Wilkinson School, social-emotional learning is woven into school life so that students learn essential life skills. Learning values as a community at the start of each school day in a “school hall meeting,” practicing conflict resolution as conflicts arise, exploring inclusion vs. exclusion, tolerance, etc., in assemblies, discussing life issues in class, processing difficulties with staff and fellow students, and learning proactive and productive communication skills are just some of the ways that students participate in social-emotional learning.
4. Fine Arts
At Wilkinson School, Fine Arts is a part of every day. Professional art, dance, drama, and choral and instrumental music teachers lead each class through artistic exploration and skill-building. Because of the self-discovery, cooperative skills, confidence, discipline, and poise cultivated by the Fine Arts instruction, students achieve more in academic disciplines. Finally, we believe that the arts are basic to life and that exposing children to them at a young age is invaluable.
5. Connection to the World
One of the key pieces to education should be creating connections to the real and greater world and the Wilkinson School’s legacy of accomplishing this is unparalleled. Our Intensive Studies Trips each spring are led by Hopi Elders, Civil Right Leaders, historians, and other experts who bring a personal perspective that imparts a much richer and layered experience to our student travelers. Smaller trips to museums, performances, various industries, and nature are also woven into the learning experience. Throughout the school year, we also bring in working professionals who teach seminars in areas ranging from fiber optics, ancient Mesopotamia, world religions, philosophy, nutrition, computer technology, pharmaceuticals, law, environmentalism, and more. The use of technology to connect to the greater world is also being explored with web conferences, Skype sessions, community websites, and more.