Research into using arts-based methods to foster holistic education earned Natural Sciences teacher Mrs Trisha Govindasami a Master of Education degree. Supervised by Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, Govindasami investigated how she could integrate holistic education into her mainstream Science class while still aligning her teaching with the prescribed curriculum.
Govindasami chose a self-study methodology, unravelling and examining herself and her teaching practice.
The study was framed by a socio-cultural perspective which enabled Govindasami to see students against a background of diverse social and cultural aspects that influenced their development.
As the teacher-researcher, this framework emphasised that she, too, did not learn in isolation.
The first question that framed her research was: How have my past experiences contributed to my interest in Holistic Education? ‘I looked at my past experiences with the aid of artefacts, auto-biographical writing, and self-portrait drawing,’ said Govindasami. ‘This yielded insights into my teaching and why I taught my Science lessons in a specific manner.
‘My second research question was: How can I foster holistic education in my Science classroom? To answer this question, I worked with my Grade 9 students through adapted lessons that included arts-based techniques. Data were generated using artefact retrieval, reflective journal writing, drawing, collage, and audio recordings of lessons and conversations.’
Govindasami found that her students enjoyed those specially adapted lessons and were able to gain confidence as they grew in their attitude towards Science.
Her final research question was: What is the value of fostering holistic education in a Science classroom? Here, she examined the benefits of pursuing a holistic path in Science education, paired with a drawing of her vision of extending this research into practice in her classrooms. ‘Overall, self-study methodology helped me reflect on and make connections between my past lived experiences and the teacher I am now, enabling me to see the growth of the teacher I have become and wish to be,’ she added.
The examiners congratulated the candidate and supervisor for exploring a novel field in science teaching and for doing it effectively.