The Holistic Lifelong Learning Model??

Arnay Kathuria
3 min readMay 31, 2024

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What the heck is that? Ask author Waubgeshig Rice.

Hey!! If you’re new here: This is the third part of a series of blogs about a book I’ve read called Moon of the Crusted Snow. If you haven’t seen those parts, I talk about empathy in the first part and stereotypes in the second.

If you’re not new here: Glad you like it! I’m talking about something called the Holistic Lifelong Learning Model.

It’s a life approach in line with first nations values and principles.

Let’s go through the two complicated words in the name of this model.

The first word, Holistic, means simply that things are interconnected and that the ‘big picture’ is important. The second word, Lifelong, is of course just that this model is something to be kept in mind for all of one’s life, not just a part of it.

The Holistic Lifelong Learning model is inspired by First Nations values and principles to treat learning as a process throughout all of life and where learning happens between all parts of the world: humans from nature, kids from adults, adults from kids (as much of western culture doesn’t believe), and everything else.

I like both of these graphics which show people as trees, with their roots being sources of knowledge and the leaves and branches as beliefs, nurturing guides and a collective well-being of society. It shows rings of a stump as the phases of learning from early learning to workplace learning and continuous learning throughout someone’s life. That’s so cool!

I don’t know about you, but learning about this has been super interesting and it was so cool seeing that come out in the book — that’s what this is about.

The book’s use of the Holistic Lifelong Learning Model is really engaging.

Right at the start of the book on page 4, the main character Evan is praying after hunting a moose. He then “promised to keep trying to live in a good way”. To live in a good way means to do the right thing. In a changing world, the right thing is also changing. The key word here, trying, means that Evan is willing to keep learning what the good way to live is — a great example of the Holistic Lifelong Learning Model.

When I read this part, I was curious if I would learn things from this book because my favorite content is always the stuff that makes me think. From books like Harry Potter to shows like Brooklyn 99, even though they’re fiction they always make me think about the world and that’s super engaging for me. This part of the book made me think about how the right thing is always changing and if I as a growing human am focusing on learning and doing the right thing like Evan is. This thinking made me really engaged and I liked the book from the start.

The engagement using the model was all throughout the book.

I liked that I was really engaged at that part at the start and for a bit of the book, my engagement kinda died off. On page 174 though, it engaged me a lot again because I thought of the Holistic Lifelong Learning Model again. Evan’s kids are hearing a story from their grandfather, Dan — Evan’s father — and Evan asks his kids “Can you think of any other important lessons in that story?”. I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Evan has heard the story Dan was telling before. He heard it already and was actually helping tell it to his kids. As he asks his kids for lessons, he is genuinely looking to learn something from them. Usually, especially in western cultures, learning is treated as one-directional. I don’t mean the band, but I mean people kinda treat it as younger people learning from older people. Evan in this case is learning from his own kids — when do you hear that in western culture? This dichotomy from what a non-indigenous reader is used to is really engaging, especially for me.

This book is pretty cool and if you read it, I hope you think of me!

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