This year, the GHFP was invited by Beijing Normal University to teach a credit course on HCE. Dr Scherto Gill and Professor Kenneth Gergen, a fellow of the GHFP, provided the lectures together.

Participants are masters, doctoral and post-doctoral students. The lectures focused on the theories and practices of Human-Centred Education. The course concluded with a peer-evaluation day when students reflected on their own learning and discussed how they might take some of the ideas to their own research and work. A high note was reached when one of the students burst into tears about her awakening to this humanising view of students and the potential such human-centred approach might have in transforming lives of children and the society.

On 16th October, 52 school principals and their key members of staff travelled from different corners of the country to attend a one-day lecture on HCE provided by both Dr Gill and Prof Gergen. This lecture was likewise appreciated by the Principals, but they felt this was only a beginning. Schools in China are eager to learn how to integrate HCE practices in classrooms.

“A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to find out who and what you are!” (student participant)

Saturday Satya is a co-curricular programme, originally designed and created in 2007 as part of the Eton-Slough-Hounslow Independent & State School Partnership initiative and Eton College’s Wisdom Project, with the support of the GHFP.

Satya is a Sanskrit word for ‘truth’ or ‘ultimate reality’ and refers to the virtue of being truthful in one’s thought, speech and action. Saturday Satya is a series of Saturday morning sessions in which a group of young people from diverse backgrounds are challenged and guided to explore their understandings of themselves, others and the world around them in more empowered and nuanced ways.

Saturday Satya supports students’ whole-person development and growth, enabling individuals to strengthen a sense of themselves and to gain an appreciation of others and their different perspectives. The programme’s activities enable the students to develop self-conceptions and personal identity through building understanding in three interrelated areas:

  • Understanding oneself: Students are more able to see themselves in new and more positive ways, such as feeling more confident and more creative, with a more positive self-image. 
  • Understanding others: Students get to know and understand individuals from different social and cultural backgrounds, which in turn helps them interrogate or develop their own perspectives, including learning to develop attitudes of acceptance and respect for differences.
  • Understanding one’s own orientation within the wider community: Students are enabled them to explore cultural roles and their own socio-political and religious orientation within or outside of these contexts.

In supporting the development of students’ self-conceptions and personal identity, the programme offers rich opportunities for students’ social, moral, spiritual and cultural (SMSC) development, as defined within OFSTED guidelines. 

Human-centred pedagogies embedded in the programme’s activities and the teacher-mentors’ practices play a pivotal part in supporting these learning opportunities and in creating rich and safe learning spaces:

  • A Pedagogy of Care: This involves the cultivation of genuine, human relationships between teacher-mentors and students, built on trust, respect and care. This approach to relationships, alongside an open and ‘no-right-answers’ approach to learning, helps to create safe and nurturing spaces where young people feel able to explore and examine their own and others’ ideas and perceptions without fear of failure or judgement. This ethos of the Saturday Satya is enriched by the teacher-mentors’ willingness to listen deeply to the voices of students and to care for and respect their individual needs.
  • A Pedagogy of Whole-Person Engagement: The activities of Saturday Satya are rich and diverse, engaging students on many different levels, and thereby supporting their whole-person development. Some activities engage students through their physical senses, some challenge them through their intellect and some invite them to explore their emotional landscapes. Still others engage their creativity and imagination and others prompt them to be reflective or encourage them to be contemplative.
  • A Pedagogy of Presence: Through meditative practices, silence and stillness, and activities which give students opportunities to bear witness to each other’s experiences, they are enabled to be truly present to the here and now. By leaving behind the pressures and anxieties of home and school life, and being able to engage fully with their experiences within the sessions, students are empowered to learn in engaged and meaningful ways. The teacher-mentors embody this presence, allowing themselves to be truly available to students, rather than ‘performing’ the role of a teacher.

In this way, the Saturday Satya’s pedagogical practices enable the teacher-mentors and students to live values which are fundamental to young people’s well-being in education.

The Saturday Satya programme provides participants with significant opportunities to learn and develop holistically, strengthening their sense of who they are and promoting an openness to otherness and an appreciation of diversity. The pedagogies of the programme feature respectful, caring, imaginative and open-minded approaches which help create safe spaces and enable students to explore different aspects of themselves and engage with others’ perspectives.

If you would be interested in developing Saturday Satya or a similar programme with young people in your school or area, please do get in touch via the website.