Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Whole Child Initiative

The 21st century demands a highly skilled, educated work force and citizenry unlike any we have seen before. The global marketplace and economy are a reality. Change and innovation have become the new status quo. A strong foundation in reading, writing, math, and other core subjects is as important as ever, yet insufficient for lifelong success. These demands require a new and better way of approaching education policy and practice—a whole child approach to learning, teaching, and community engagement.

The Whole Child Initiative proposes a definition of achievement and accountability that promotes the development of children who are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. We seek to redefine what a successful learner is and how we measure success. ASCD is helping educators, families, community members, and policymakers move from rhetoric about educating the whole child to reality.

Whole Child Tenets

  • Each student enters school healthy and learns about and practices a healthy lifestyle.
  • Each student learns in an intellectually challenging environment that is physically and emotionally safe for students and adults.
  • Each student is actively engaged in learning and is connected to the school and broader community.
  • Each student has access to personalized learning and is supported by qualified, caring adults.
  • Each graduate is challenged academically and prepared for success in college or further study and for employment in a global environment.

Engaging the Whole Child (online only)

Summer 2007

Feature Articles

About This Issue

Marge Scherer

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Two Takes on Whole

Amy M. Azzam

Commission co-chairs Hugh Price and Stephanie Pace Marshall discuss the thinking behind ASCD's Whole Child campaign.

Hear audio excerpts from the longer interview.

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The Neuroscience of Joyful Education

Judy Willis

How are engagement and learning linked? The author looks at the cognitive and neurological research.

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A Monumental Curriculum

P. Bruce Uhrmacher and Barri Tinkler

Spur your students to learn about history and humanity through investigating local, state, and world memorials.

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Coaching Students to New Heights in Writing

William Powell and Ochan Kusuma-Powell

An international school in Kuala Lumpur challenges students to become better writers.

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Students as Citizens

David A. Scott

Law courses, moot courts, leadership training, and a conflict resolution program guide students to practice civic responsibility.

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Making the Most of Field Trips

Linda Mayger

These are not your grandmother's field trips.

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A Daily Engagement with the Arts

Sarah Zadny

Propel Schools invite artists to school and kids to become artists.

Watch a video clip.

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Whole Teaching, Whole Schools, Whole Teachers

John P. Miller

Holistic education practices hearken back to the world views of the American transcendentalists and other philosophers.

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Special Report / Twenty-First-Century Skills for the Whole Child

Amy M. Azzam

A new report indicates that virtual learning can transform education.

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The framework presents a holistic view of 21st century teaching and learning that combines a discrete focus on 21st century student outcomes (a blending of specific skills, content knowledge, expertise and literacies) with innovative support systems to help students master the multi-dimensional abilities required of them in the 21st century.

The key elements of 21st century learning are represented in the graphic and descriptions below. The graphic represents both 21st century skills student outcomes (as represented by the arches of the rainbow) and 21st century skills support systems (as represented by the pools at the bottom).

While the graphic represents each element distinctly for descriptive purposes, the Partnership views all the components as fully interconnected in the process of 21st century teaching and learning.

21st Century Student Outcomes and Support Systems

      • Download PDF version of the Framework here
      • Please visit Route 21 for an interactive view of the framework here
      • Download the Full Skills Definition Document here
rainbow_web 0710


The elements described in this section as “21st century student outcomes” (represented by the rainbow) are the skills, knowledge and expertise students should master to succeed in work and life in the 21st century.

1. Core Subjects and 21st Century Themes

2. Learning and Innovation Skills

3. Information, Media and Technology Skills

4. Life and Career Skills


The elements described below are the critical systems necessary to ensure student mastery of 21st century skills. 21st century standards, assessments, curriculum, instruction, professional development and learning environments must be aligned to produce a support system that produces 21st century outcomes for today’s students.

1. 21st Century Standards

2. Assessment of 21st Century Skills

3. 21st Century Curriculum and Instruction

4. 21st Century Professional Development

5. 21st Century Learning Environments