The Center on Chinese Education is delighted to announce the launch of a new research project of a comparative and cross-cultural analysis of holistic learning and spirituality in education. In collaboration with the Ziran Education Foundation, this project seeks to examine the philosophical and cultural foundations of the important concepts of consciousness, mindfulness, and spirituality in education, and develop a holistic learning framework connecting Eastern and Western perspectives.


Presently, education in fast-paced societies has the tendency to lose its true meaning and potentially be self-destructive. The global pandemic, natural disasters, fierce competition, widespread violence, and growing inequity across the world serve as a timely reminder to re-examine and search inwardly for the purposes of life and education. The world-renowned philosopher and teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti stresses that good education, in essence, should provide “the opportunity to flower in goodness so that [the child] is rightly related to people, things, and ideas, to the whole of life” and to develop fully into a “complete human being.”


After more than three decades of development, holistic education has become a global movement. This new wave of educational reform draws upon a rich legacy from both Eastern and Western philosophers, political thinkers, theorists, psychologists and practitioners, including Plato, Confucius, Lao-Tzu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Kant, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, Francis Parker, John Dewey, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Piaget, Rudolf Steiner, Maria Montessori, Abraham Maslow, and many others. Inspired by Krishnamurti’s insights into education, this project will focus on fostering a deeper understanding of secular spirituality, awakened awareness, and consciousness all in relation to education. More specifically, we aim to explore a holistic approach in learning that will balance and fulfill the intellectual, social-emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of the whole child. Based on a comprehensive review of literature and case studies, the research team will conduct comparative investigations on the existing holistic learning models in North America, Europe, and Asia, to develop an innovative framework weaving together the strengths and wisdoms of Eastern and Western traditions with the considerations of a whole education that will enable students to “flower in goodness.”