Selena J. Wilson
the holistic educator
When I was in high school, I swore that I would never put my future children through public school. My determination to home school was fueled by my misery in the system. It wasn't until around the tenth or eleventh grade that I began to get the hang of the school game, but before that I was constantly struggling to fit in and play the game correctly. It seemed I spent my entire elementary school career with my desk situated strategically close to the teacher, constantly being told, "earth to Selena, come in please", and feeling like I was some special kind of stupid. My mother was advised each year to hold me back a grade until sixth grade! But I wasn't stupid or even slow. It took me until my twenties to believe in myself and undo all of the mental and emotional programing I unwittingly received during my schooling. Fast forward to today, and I am now embarking on my 12th year as a public school teacher, my daughter has just graduated at the top of her class from high school, and my son is entering middle school; both also products of the public school system. So what changed? How did I grow up to abandon my deepest convictions?
To be completely honest, my deepest convictions regarding the school industry are in tact. I didn't homeschool because I wouldn't have been able to stay home. I needed to work to help support the family. I still hated the school system, and had such enormous empathy for all of the kids who experience it the same way I did that I decided I would try to do my own small part to help change that. Teaching became my career of choice; I would shift the paradigm from inside of the system. I continue to work to become that teacher creating that space where kids can feel seen and heard and cared for. Where who they are matters more than how they subscribe to conformity, and where their uniqueness and imagination is not only accepted but drawn out of them and encouraged. I discovered along my journey that it is the core beliefs and range of emotions, and their ability to navigate and regulate these that distinguishes the level of success and happiness for students. I discovered the concept of hidden curriculum and the influence that the environment itself can have on the development of a person. Teachers can do subtle things to activate these transformations within a student. When these aspects of "whole person" development are understood- the teacher becomes the alchemist, or what I like to call a "faciliteacher".
One of the most impactful experiences I have had was to join a small cohort to earn my masters degree in Holistic and Integrative Education. I met my people when I found this program! Not only did I learn about the many pioneers and examples of holistic education, but I learned it in an experiential way that was modeled. I found deep understanding, a sense of place, connection to nature, curiosity, support, passion; I felt engaged. I knew that that was what I wanted to create for my students. Thats what I wanted for myself! I hope you enjoy the content that has helped me manifest a class culture of individuality, autonomy, creativity, and community. I will continue to develop tools and share them here, and look forward to hearing how others are implementing their own techniques. I am excited to continue learning.