Teaching in an Integrated Manner
President, Society for Holistic Education, Delhi
The compartmentalized approach to education-with specialized subjects like arithmetic,
physics, chemistry, biology, etc.- has its own advantages and limitations-the most crucial
being that the students are not able to relate this education with Life. An integrated
approach to education is presented in this paper which it is hoped would remove this
deficiency and make teaching-learning process a joy for the students and the teachers
alike and enable the students to see the relevance of their education to daily life..
The need for making teaching-learning process a joy so that the students’ motivation to
learn is preserved, especially at the formative period in upper primary and secondary
stages, has been felt for long time. The large dropout rate in this stage of education is in
no small measure contributed by the fact the students and their parents are unable to see
the relevance of the education to their day to day life. Many novel experiments –free
progress education, learning by doing, self-learning etc-- have also been done to achieve
this. An integrated approach to education, that combines the good features of some of
these, is presented herein, in the hope that this would make the teaching-learning process
directly integrated with the daily life--a joy for both the students and teachers.
Rather than give a theoretical background and justification for its advantages, a typical
illustration of how this could be actually done is presented.
TOPIC OF MODULE : VISIT TO A MARKET
Level of Students: Class VI-VII
Activity : The students are taken to a wholesale market ( like Azadpur vegetable and
fruit market) . Here they see how vegetables/fruit are sold in bulk. They are asked to note
down the prices of a few items each and also see how the items are weighed. They also
talk to a few shopkeepers and ask them where do they get the vegetables/fruit from and at
If possible, the students could also be shown a cold store where vegetables and fruit are
stored for long duration.
The students are also advised to accompany their parents to a local vegetable shop in
their colony and find out the prices of the same items that they noted in the wholesale
Discussions in the class : Based on these visits a number of topics, usually taught as
modules in different subjects, can be discussed with the students , for example:
Arithmetic (Profit and Loss) : Explain to the students the implications of difference
between the wholesale and retail prices, and how this leads to profit for the retailer,
explaining properly the concept of “profit”. Ask them about “other expenses” which the
retailer will have to bear, (for example the transportation cost, rent for the shop, salary for
the workers, spoilage etc.). They can then work out a more realistic estimate of the profits
considering each of these items separately as also collectively and appreciate their
relative contributions to the increase in retail price over the wholesale price.
Similar analysis could be done for the wholesale dealers. Bring out the relative difference
between the nature of “other expenses” for the wholesale and retailer.
Ask them to think whether a similar analysis could be done for the farmers producing
these items. The reply to this could be tied up with other lesson/visit on growing
Food and Healthcare : Ask the students which fruit/vegetable they like the most and
what they dislike. Based on this feedback very interesting discussions can be carried out.
The science teacher can help them understand the importance of a balanced nutritious
diet. Relate the useful properties of various fruit and vegetables to their colour and
sweetness/bitterness etc. and motivate the students not to just get carried away by taste
but also be mindful of their nutritional/medicinal value. The discussion could also be
taken in the direction of difference between “pleasant” and “good” which would be dwelt
at length in the ethics sub-module.
Mechanics : Ask the students to draw a diagram of the weighing scale they saw in the
wholesale market / retail market. In the retail market they might have seen a variety of
weighing devices ranging from conventional weighing balance to sophisticated electronic
balance, explain their difference and the fact that absolute measurement is only through a
conventional weighing scale.
Focus on the mechanics of weighing scale and introduce the lever principle and the
concept of international standard of weights.
Explain to them the effect of difference in the arms of the lever on the weighing process
and ask them to calculate it for a few examples. Ask them to reflect on what happens if
they buy things from a shopkeeper who has fiddled with the lever length and tell them
this will be discussed at length in the ethics sub-module.
Hygiene : Draw the attention of students towards the conditions they saw at the wholesale
market and in the retail shop from the point of view of cleanliness and hygiene, how this
could effect the health of the people working there as also the quality of vegetables/fruit
Discuss with them various reasons for spoilage of food and the impact of temperature on
it. Explain how storage at low temperature is helpful (domestic refrigerator, commercial
Why do the retailers cover their vegetables with a wet gunny bag during hot weather in
Why do diseases of a particular kind manifest more in Monsoon season ?
Ethics and Values : The issue about distinction between “pleasant” and “good” which
emerged in the sub-module on food above, can form the basis of an exciting discussion
through other examples from daily life where children are prone to get carried away by
what is “pleasant” like ; playing, eating, watching TV etc. and avoid what is “unpleasant”
like inoculation, bitter medicines, bathing in cold weather, etc. The discussion can be
made even more meaningful by asking the students to reflect on a rather difficult question
“ Why do we get carried away by pleasant, even after knowing that it is not good; and
avoid what is unpleasant even though we know that it is good?” The teacher can then
guide the discussion to drive home the need for control over mind and thus motivate the
students towards meditation which can help in this.
The issue about fiddling with the weighing balance can be made the starting point of a
very interesting discussion on ethics and the importance of honesty. Ask the students how
would they feel if they paid for 2kg of fruit and the shopkeeper gave them only 1.8kg by
using a tampered weighing machine. Ask them to calculate the increase in the profit of
the shopkeeper by this strategy and inquire whether they approve of this method of
increasing profit. Use this as a starting point to discuss legitimate and illegitimate means
of earning more money, the need for following the maxim “Do unto others as you wish
others to do unto you”. Most ethical and moral principles can be explained as the
implications of this maxim.
It should be evident from the above description that this integrated approach to teaching
is bound to be much more interesting for the students and they and their parents can “see”
its direct relevance to daily life. It is also truly holistic: in one module all the aspects of
holistic education, viz. physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual are incorporated
subtly. In terms of standard classifications we are teaching arithmetic, mechanics,
hygiene, food and healthcare, ethics and values through just one interaction, viz. visit to a
It should be possible to develop similar modules of integrated learning based on
other common activities like a visit to a stadium to see a badminton match, visit to a river
bank, visit to a village farm, milk dairy, etc. and also on the basis of simple, but
interesting, experiments which can be done in the school itself: like studying the
movement of shadows of a vertical pole, testing the quality of water available in the
school, monitoring the fuel consumption in the school canteen, making soap in the
chemistry lab, monitoring the growth of some plants in the school etc. Of course
practical implementation of such an education demands lot more commitment from the
teachers, necessary infra structural and laboratory facilities, and small size of the class.
But the results are likely to be equally rewarding, both for the students and the teachers.