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Home arrow Sociology arrow Holistic engagement : transformative social work education in the 21st century
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Scholarship of Pedagogy

As more holistic pedagogies are utilized within social work education, the network of people, resources, and research will expand. Until then, as the authors of this volume have done, it is incumbent upon all of us to write about what we are doing, share innovation, and engage in collaborative research to assess the impacts of holistic pedagogies on our students, our field, and ourselves. The profession needs faculty who are engaged in the use ofholistic pedagogies to conduct research to assess their impact on student learning and experience, wellness, and retention, as well as practice in the field.

Although there is a growing body of evidence on the uses of mindfulness and other like practices in the social work classroom (Gerdes, Segal, Jackson & Mullins, 2011; Lynn, 2010; Mishna & Bogo, 2007), our specific model ofholistic engagement must be explored and assessed for its relevance and resonance and to further articulate the skills as measurable if it is to be valued within the current academic standards. As the skills of presence, using the whole self, and being immersed fully in context and connection begin to be expressly developed, pedagogical scholars will explore the impact on students, instructors, and programs, as well as clients and communities.

Ongoing tension and debate exist within social work and among other professional disciplines as to whether and how much social work needs to be a “science- based discipline.” Sommerfield (2014) articulates this debate internationally and offers ideas on how to conceive social work as an action science that is “transdisciplinary” (p. 586) and cites the importance of developing a “consolidated knowledge base of social work” (p. 586). Related to these assertions, scholars of holistic pedagogies are called to begin to conceive of studies of comparative outcomes and cohort studies on holistic engagement skills as well as the broad range of holistic pedagogies. This may involve key partnerships with other disciplines in which the science is further along, such as integrative medicine, in addition to some of the scholarship relative to mind-body practices, meditation, and somatic therapies (Garland & Howard, 2009; Lee et al., 2009; McCall, 2007; Micozzi, 2011; Sharma, 2014; Siegel, Fosha, & Solomon, 2010). Doing so could also involve disciplines that utilize biological markers of impact (e.g., functional magnetic resonance imaging studies) such that a more objective measure of impact on the self physically can be assessed, in addition to experiential ones.

There is also a call for scholarship to assess both the needs of the existing workforce and the educator workforce for barriers and opportunities toward implementation of holistic pedagogies. These studies should emphasize the organizational cultures that may be supporting and hindering self-care, conscious communication, and transformative practice. The findings could inform educational programming for continuing education as well as educator training programs. Studies are also needed to explore the developmental trajectory of comfort and skill for educators transitioning to holistic methods in teaching and to develop curricula to support educator preparation that can facilitate ongoing growth and support.

 
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