SHELBURNE - Two Vermont women, one an educator, the other an author who has been raising the awareness of a more holistic approach to education, have collaborated on a book they hope will help educators to address the needs of the whole child.
The book, "Educating from the Heart," by Aostre N. Johnson Ed.D. of Burlington and Marilyn Webb Neagley of Shelburne, offers theoretical overviews and practical approaches for educators, academics, education students and parents who are seeking a new way to include elements of humanity, spirituality and inner growth with the practical content of modern education.
The book encourages transformational approaches to learning and teaching that can easily be integrated into public and private K-12 school classrooms, with many ideas also applicable to higher education. It supports the belief that heart and spirit are intertwined with mind and intellect, and that inner peace, wisdom, compassion, conscience and wellness can be developed together with academic content and skills.
Johnson said, "There is a dawning realization around the globe that many people and cultures are losing touch with their inner lives in this era of increasingly high-speed, multitasking, high stress, acquisition-oriented ways of living and that this is taking an enormous toll on all forms of life on earth."
Neagley said, "As research emerges and the importance of educating from the heart is validated, we are hopeful that this deeper and more reflective approach will characterize the field of education, the concept of wellness, and the meaning of "whole child."
Johnson is professor of Education at Saint Michael's College in Colchester. She teaches courses in integrated curriculum theory and practice and in spirituality, ethics and education, and she directs a master's program in curriculum. She has published many articles related to creativity, ethics, spirituality, religion, human development and education and is a co-editor of Nurturing Child and Adolescent Spirituality: Perspectives from the World's Religious Traditions. Previously she co-founded and directed schools for children in Massachusetts, New York and North Carolina.
Webb Neagley is coordinator of the Talk About Wellness initiative. She has worked both locally and nationally for the past 40 years with non-profit organizations as a CEO, volunteer, Board member and/or consultant. Her work has been aimed at education for the appreciation and protection of our natural resources, art, spirit and wellness. She was most recently the recipient of an IPPY gold medal for best northeastern non-fiction for her book of reflections, Walking through the Seasons.
Locally she is known for her work as a former president of Shelburne Farms during the period when the decision to use the resources of the historic estate for teaching children about stewardship of natural and agricultural resources was developed.
In "Educating from the Heart," Johnson and Neagley have compiled and edited essays written by both nationally recognized educators and Vermont classroom teachers. The book, made possible by the Talk About Wellness initiative, has been published by Rowman & Littlefield Education.