Holistic Thinking

Globally competent individuals can examine and explain their own worldview and cultural traditions, recognizing how these influence their choices and interactions in everyday life.[1] Not only can they break down and analyze relationship, cultures, and other systems, they can put the pieces together again into a coherent whole. How can we prepare such citizens who understand multiple spheres of participation from the local, to the national, to the global?

It is difficult to shoehorn holistic thinking into Bloom’s Taxonomy or other such entries in education’s cognitive canon. This is because holistic thinking often requires skills that Bloom and others considered beyond the scope of cognition. The non-analytical aspects of holistic thinking are more effectively aligned with models of emotional—or affective—learning. David Krathwohl, a student of Bloom’s, developed a taxonomy of such learning, and it is upon his work that we base our definition of holistic thinking in the global context.

[1] Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World” by the Asia Society and Council of Chief State School Officer’s


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