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Hemant Somasekharan


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Squared bhutan4
Hundred 2019
Looking to develop a holistic curriculum with engaging assessment tools for students and teachers?

5 Areas of Development

Marker Bhutan
A new school culture that refocuses the curriculum to address 5 key areas of development (cerebral, physical, emotional, spiritual and social) and uses innovative methods to assess students, teachers and the school as a whole.

What are the 5 Areas of Development?

Hemant Somasekharan
“Teachers ask students to demonstrate what they have learnt, transforming learning into something they want to do. Students begin to teach their peers and become leaders in their own right.”

Arun Kapur, 5 Areas for Development Creator

In an era of unprecedented change, particularly stemming from rapid technological progress, what can we do to ensure that learners have the skills  they need in order to succeed in all areas of their life?  What will the future look like in a decade from now? What are we preparing our learners for?

The Five Areas of Development is a holistic approach to learning that strives to break down the silos in education and ensure the development of a learner in all Five areas of Development - Cerebral, Emotional, Physical, Social and Spiritual. Through this process of development, we hope to inspire our learners and equip them with the skills and processes that will help them navigate new content and challenges that the future might present.

The Royal Academy, a residential school in Bhutan, has developed a holistic curriculum focusing on the 5 Areas of Development. Each area is given equal weighting and the interconnection between all areas is emphasised.

Cerebral development (the academic area) teaches communication, comprehension, critical thinking and curiosity to enhance academic learning.

Physical development focuses on health, fitness and sports.

Social development supports students to get involved in their communities, work towards common goals and understand themselves and others.

Spiritual development is focused on core values, awareness and practice, rather than on a particular religion.

Emotional development encourages learners to pay attention to their emotions in order to identify, understand and express them positively and productively.

The structure of the school day guides holistic development. The day begins with student-led group physical exercise followed by reflective mindful practice. Students then participate in six learning experiences, one of which is another physical activity. Learners are able to flow between the learning experiences based on preference for teaching style should they wish to do so. Based on the individual passions of the students, teachers will provide feedback to the development coordinators to ensure the curriculum covers all areas of interest.

The goal is to help all students actualise their potential. There is a strong focus on assessing students against themselves, not each other. Teachers also focus on their own development in order to support this holistic environment, becoming co-learners in the model.

Over the last couple of years, the innovation has been adopted by the Vasant Valley School and Pallavan Learning Centre, New Delhi. 

A brief overview of how the innovation looks in practice can be found here

A short video from the innovator, Mr Arun Kapur, can be viewed here

Read more ›
Intended Outcomes
Target Group
Resources Needed
5 teachers are needed to act as the main coordinators, one for each development area.
HundrED Criteria
5 Areas of Development is a practical, multi-dimensional model aiming to address the needs of students through changing the focus of education. The goal is to show young people that there are many different aspects to a person beyond academics.
Impact is measured through student and teacher roadmaps. Teachers use this reflective tool to continuously monitor students in a holistic way.
The concept, ideas and intention of the 5 Areas of Development could be easily used and adapted in other schools around the world to enrich any school curriculum.

See this innovation in action.

holistic - exploreaza si cum
Bogdan Badiu


Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Integrate the 5 Areas of Development into the school's learnin...
Before adopting the 5 Areas of Development, a mindset shift at the school may be needed, along with some practical preparations.
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Create individual roadmaps
These roadmaps set out the plans and visions of each individual student and teacher at the school.
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Create a roadmap for the whole school
Begin the process of combining individual roadmaps to eventually create a whole school roadmap.
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Incorporate the 5 Areas of Development into the curriculum
Sports, reflection and contemplation are included in the curriculum every day, and nature retreats are organised twice a year to give students a different kind of learning experience.
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Redesign assessment methods
Through the 5 Areas of Development, a range of methods are used to assess learners' progress.
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Continuously evolve the curriculum
The curriculum is dynamic, with a focus on skills and processes over content.
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Connect with the innovator

Hemant Somasekharan
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