back to the Magazine Home

The Holistic Approach

The Holistic Approach

Steven DeSouza [BEd 2010] likes the challenges of teaching in China. “Every single day is a new challenge, not only in your classroom, but outside the classroom, especially when you live in a country where the native tongue is not your native tongue. As soon as I go out of the gate of my school or even my classroom, I have to interact in the language of the country.”

Taking on challenges is something that Steven shares with his family. This experience of living in China contributes to Steven’s goal of being a life-long learner, but it also provides another benefit. “I’m second-generation Canadian. My parents came over as students, and they settled here with their families. I didn’t quite understand the experiences of my father. When he first came, he was the only coloured student in his class, and there was a small percentage of coloured people in Toronto. He told me of his experiences, and truly I had difficulty relating. Once I went to China, I understood…”

Understanding the immigrant perspective goes beyond Steven’s desire to understand what his parents went through. He believes that the educational experience of adapting in a foreign country will benefit him when one day he returns to teach in Canada. “Being a teacher in Canada, there is a large number of immigrant The Holistic Approach students and children in our classes, as well as parents. The major reason I went abroad is to be able to understand where people come from. And it is not only the children in the classroom. It is, more importantly, the parents. What are the parents going through?”

“That is one of the reasons why I went abroad, and I immersed myself into Chinese society without knowing a single word of Chinese,” Steven continues. “Immigrants who come here [Canada] have very limited English, and I wanted to truly have that immigrant experience so that when I come back to teach I can truly relate to the students, understand the pains that they and their families feel, and help them acclimatize to Canada.”

This ability to understand students and their parents is an aspect where teaching goes beyond the classroom. This is part of Steven’s current position in an international boarding school in China. His role is to be available for the students at any time: “If the students need your help, you should be there. You should be willing to listen to them.”

This holistic approach to teaching is part of what drew Steven to Tyndale. He was already teaching in China, but knew he needed to earn his teaching degree. His father told him about Tyndale’s education program and even attended an information session on his behalf. Fall/Winter 2013 15

As Steven researched Tyndale’s program, he knew this type of program matched his beliefs. He says that he “liked the atmosphere where God is central in our lives and is central in the teaching, pedagogy, and the way that people live.”

His school in China also takes on challenges. Most Chinese international schools accept only international students. However, Steven explains that his school “applied to the province I live in and received permission to allow domestic Chinese students to attend our international school. We have a mix of international students as well as Chinese students.” This program opens many doors for the students from mainland China. When students graduate, they can go abroad for post-secondary education.

This means that Steven’s current school continues to grow. From a first year with twelve students and six teachers, the program has grown to more than 100 students and twenty teachers.

Steven takes his role as an educator very seriously. He says, “We don’t want the children just to grow in their subject area. We want them to grow as people. We want them to become better people and serve the world in a better way. There are too many people out there who are excellent in their fields, but as people who think about how the rest of the world operates, they just don’t have it.”

He continues, “Whether you teach in a secular system or in a Christian system, you do not need to tell the kids you are a Christian. In my case, you cannot tell the children because you can’t teach openly about religion, but they know! They know because you’ve been instructed and taught, and this belief in Jesus is spread through your teaching even if you don’t say His name— but if you use your Christian values and incorporate them into your classroom, students learn, and they learn to grow as individuals.”