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A Contextualized Account of Holistic Education in Finland and Singapore: Implications on Singapore Educational Context

Abstract

This paper examines holistic education initiatives of two high-performing education systems—Finland and Singapore. This qualitative analysis captures a phenomenological schooling experience of holistic education under the two systems. Our conceptualization of holistic education focuses on two key dimensions: transformative learning and community engagement. Indications of transformative learning were observed through the (un)structured play activities that students engaged in. For community engagement, we examined the imperatives that underpin community engagement initiatives that students were exposed to. A sociological explanation of this account discusses the context that shapes approaches to holistic learning, and how changes in schooling approaches mirror-changing educational landscapes in both Finland and Singapore. Implications on Singapore’s holistic education will then be drawn.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank colleagues of the Office of Education Research, National Institute of Education (Singapore), Nanyang Technological University for participating in the graphic elicitation exercise and for sharing their views so generously. The rich insights shared had contributed significantly to the analysis of the field data that support the writing of this article.

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Correspondence to Helen Hong.

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Lee, D.H.L., Hong, H. & Niemi, H. A Contextualized Account of Holistic Education in Finland and Singapore: Implications on Singapore Educational Context. Asia-Pacific Edu Res 23, 871–884 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40299-014-0189-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40299-014-0189-y

Keywords

  • Finland
  • Singapore
  • High-performing education systems
  • Holistic education
  • Transformative learning
  • Community engagement