An Overview of Holistic Education−Pursuing a Fulfilling Life Via Holistic Education


For a long time in the evolution of human history and societies, man has been conditioned to be more observant to bodily experiences and empirical things. Although we have gained a significant understanding of the material world, we are less responsive or rather more indifferent to immaterial things. As a result, our world view has been narrowed and we have fallen prey to commodity fetishism. Therefore, we are becoming increasingly one dimensional–responsive only to materials and empirical experiences.


Unfortunately, our education system could not be exempted from this pernicious influence. Schools have become no more than a highly developed manufacturing unit. In this system, students are like raw materials processed in the machine and turned out as identical commodities to be absorbed into the job market. At best, they master the fundamental skills which may eventually allow them to become experts or professionals in their respective fields. Clearly, modern people have lost their uniqueness and subjectivity. Many do not know the meaning of their own existence. They are working machines, for they do not know why they work, and do not have a purpose or goal beyond satisfying the immediate physical demands of their existence. They may know how to manipulate high tech equipment, but they do not know how to be a husband or a wife. They may be able to calculate market trends, but they do not know how to navigate through complex human relationships. They may be able to satisfy society’s workforce needs, but they lack the means to fulfill their responsibilities as a human being. An unbalanced education system has created men and women who do not know where they are or who they are. Therefore today we need to find and recover our lost children.


Here at Chung Yuan Christian University (CYCU), we believe that holistic education is the solution. We view holistic education as a construction project from within that can light a path for those lost men and women. Holistic education at CYCU aims at “humanization,” the ultimate function education strives to provide. Students learn that between themselves (“me” or “self”) and others (themselves, society, and God), there exists a relationship and balance they need to work on in order to have a fulfilling life. That is the goal of holistic education.


The Implementation of Holistic Education


The ideals of Holistic Education are grounded in “the respect of nature and human dignity, and the pursuit of harmony among the universe, humans, matter, and the self.” This is not only our current goal of education at CYCU, but it will also be the guiding principle of a future trend of higher education in Taiwan. When implementing holistic education, “the four balances” are embodied in the philosophy, as explicated in the following:


Balance between Specialty and General Knowledge

Within a specialty, one is equipped with the power to complete a specialized task, while general knowledge affords one a wider yet more integrated view of life. Facing a diverse and ever-changing environment, students need to find a balance between the study of specialty and general knowledge. They need to build a knowledge framework where both can synergistically reinforce each other.


While engaging in the vertical pursuit of specialty knowledge, university students should not lose sight of the various disciplines outside their major fields. We at CYCU aim at helping students build a well-rounded knowledge base. Emphasis is placed on helping them gain the power of empathy which can enable them to understand and appreciate other kinds of thinking or life experiences.


Balance between Character-building and Knowledge-building

At CYCU, we not only teach students what they need to know to excel academically, but we also place an equal emphasis on character-building. Young men and women with biased or distorted personality often are the cause of unease of the society. Such students cannot communicate with others effectively or meaningfully, and often this leads to personal problems, academic failure, or even wider social disturbance.


Therefore, we aim to teach students to view things from different perspectives and to communicate free of prejudice. In an era that increasingly relies on team work instead of individual talent, we hope that students cultivate a sound character while building a solid base of knowledge. These two elements can bolster each other, and the resulting synergy would be to the students’ advantage.


Balance between Self and Group

The world is increasingly moving toward collaborative learning and there is a greater need to address the importance of interaction between self and group. Therefore, educators today must emphasize the need to maintain a balance between self and group. Students need a better self and group interaction to ensure a better and more efficient learning process. Under this principle, students are taught to serve both each other and the larger community. Students are encouraged to take part in extra-curricular activities, thereby learning to help one another and enhancing their leadership skills. In addition, they are encouraged to take part in community service and other off-campus volunteer activities. The campus is also opened to the public so that our neighbors can enjoy the university’s various facilities. It is hoped that we can build a unique campus culture whereby students and community can grow together.


Balance between Body, Mind, and Spirit

One of our goals in Holistic Education is to help students find a personal balance between body, mind, and spirit. CYCU can boast of having excellent facilities such as stadiums, sports fields, and an indoor heated swimming pool. CYCU students are very keen on competing in sports and other intramural competitions such as our annual freshman cheerleading contest. In addition, our first-rate health care facilities are such that few universities can match. This includes our excellent counseling team which provides timely psychiatric counseling service for faculty and students who may need it. An on-campus chaplain is also always ready to help students who wish to seek the ultimate peace that lies in the pursuit and satisfaction of Christ and God our Father.



CYCU’s Holistic Education


When observing the root of chaos and dysfunction of modern society, we can find causes originating from two sources: one is the prejudice that arises from uncultured and ignorant individual opinions, and the other is the rigidity and dogmatism of the education system. With the passing of time and diversification of society, we need each individual to have a broad foundation of knowledge, enduring patience and tolerance, and sharp and insightful opinions. The traditional education system focuses on the teaching of specialty knowledge, mostly through rote learning, deemphasizing and devaluing the thinking process and critical inquiry. Such a teaching philosophy allows people to become competent specialists in limited domains, but results in a lack of general knowledge in fundamental human endeavors such as music, art, and literature, as well as the history of humanity itself. Having familiarity with this comprehensive knowledge is the way to enlighten people to understand how to think for themselves, how to respect others, and how to be modest.


Education is a long-term pursuit, which leads the university towards future development, but maintaining worthwhile traditions. Marking the solidity of its educational philosophy, CYCU has declared the motto of “Chung-Yuan Sixty, moving toward a Whole Person” for its sixtieth year celebration anniversary. This celebration centers on an ethos which underscores CYCU’s educational philosophy and its differentiation from its peer institutions. The ethos extends CYCU’s mission, establishes educational goals and philosophy, and proposes a well-rounded person-education as the institution’s educational vision for the next century.


The Implementation of Our Educational Ideology


Our education ideals are grounded in “the respect for nature and human dignity, and the pursuit of harmony among the Creator, Humanity, the Entire Creation, and the Individual Self.” This is not only our current goal of education at Chung Yuan but, we believe, will also be the guiding principle of a future trend in higher education in Taiwan and the rest of the world. In its implementation, our education is embodied in “the four balances ”as follows:


Balance between specialty education and general education

Specialty education is capability, whereas general education builds the capacity of endurance. In order to meet the demands of a diverse and rapidly changing world, it is necessary for students to develop a balance between specialty skills and general education so that they may influence society effectively and cultivate a global vision. CYCU’s education has been emphasizing that college students should not only master specialty knowledge, but also acquire a broad scope of general knowledge. As a result, they can interact with others and will not be frozen in the paradigms dominant at the time of their maturation. For example, a student from the College of Engineering should not only study mathematics and physics, but have a basic understanding of people management and the arts as well. Therefore, technology and the humanities can be developed simultaneously. Likewise, students from the College of Business or Design should not only possess knowledge of literature and history, but also need to study science and technology. Hence, their knowledge will be richer and their lives will be more productive.


Balance between an academic education and personal character

While college education underscores the cultivation of academics, it cannot abandon the building of personal character. Thus, CYCU’s education particularly emphasizes the cultivation of student’s ?personal character. For example, the institution arranges general courses like “Religious Philosophy” and “Life Philosophy” to cultivate students‘ positive personal character, which aims to help college youths reach equilibrium of personal character through raising their awareness of philosophical concerns. The deviation of personal character is the root of chaos for modern society, for a person with a devious personal character easily disregards facts and truth, and interprets social justice with his or her own arbitrary and ill-considered standards. To this end, CYCU’s education has been underscoring the balance between an academic education and personal character, providing human resources that will give our society a competitive advantage in the globalized market.


Balance between the individual and the group

Group learning is the new paradigm of global management. Aside from learning specialty knowledge and intellectual development, CYCU’s education particularly emphasizes group education and interpersonal skill development. For instance, CYCU encourages students to participate in society’s activities. As a result, service societies are quite popular at CYCU. To grow with our community, we have held activities such as “ Grand Sweeping for the Community’s Environmental Protection” and the “ Environment Feast” to illustrate environmentally-friendly concepts since CYCU’s fortieth celebration anniversary. Students’ participation in these organizations and activities is the positive feedback on the effectiveness of CYCU’s group education.


Balance between body, mind and soul

The strength of body and spirit is our foundation for life. Therefore, the balance between body, mind, and spirit is the first priority of our education. The body needs planned exercise to maintain its strength. For reaching this purpose, CYCU possesses the best swimming facilities in Taiwan, including an indoor heated swimming pool along with well-equipped resistance and cardiovascular training room. In addition, CYCU has a tradition in holding an intramural athletic meet each semester. CYCU also has the best counseling team to help students deal with psychological stress and stay mentally healthy. As for students’s pursuit of spiritual growth and maturity, CYCU provides students a prayer chapel and courses for life philosophy and religious philosophy. Thus, as becoming a well-rounded person requires a balance between the body, mind, and spirit, CYCU students will be equipped with the proper base for handling the challenges of our future world.