Title Author Publisher ISBN Date
Taking Education Really Seriously Michael Fielding RoutledgeFalmer 0415252105 2001
Real Education: varieties of freedom David Gribble Libertarian Education 0951399756 1998
Understanding Waldorf Education : Teaching from the Inside Out Jack Petrash Gryphon House 0876592469 2002
The Foundations of Human Experience Rudolf Steiner Steiner Books 0880103922 1996
The Montessori Method Maria Montessori Kuperard 0805209220 1989
Alternative Approaches to Education Fiona Carnie Routledge (UK) 0415248175 2002
Raising Curious, Creative, Confident Kids -The Pestalozzi Experiment in Child-based Education Rebecca Wild Shambhala Publications 1570624550 2006
To Educate the Human Potential: The Clio Montessori Series Maria Montessori Clio Press 1851090940 1989
The Secret of Childhood Maria Montessori Ballantine Books 0345305833 1966
The Discovery of the Child Maria Montessori Clio Press 185109086X 1997
The Handbook of Education and Human Development: New Models of Learning, Teaching and Schooling David R. Olson and Nancy Torrance Blackwell Publishers 0631211861 1998
The Philosophy of Human Learning (Routledge International Studies in the Philosophy of Education 3 Christopher Winch Routledge 0415161908 1998
Complexities of Teaching : Child-Centred Perspectives (New Prospects Series) Ciaran Surgrue Falmer Press 0750704799 1997
The Aims of Education and Other Essays Alfred North Whitehead Simon & Schuster 0029351804 1967
How Children Learn (Classics in Child Development) John Holt Perseus Publishing 0201484048 1995
Learning all the time John Holt Addison Wesley Publishing Company 0201550911 1990
Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing A. S. Neill Hart Pub Co 0805512993 1984
Summerhill School : A New View of Childhood A. S. Neill St. Martin’s Griffin 0312141378 1995
Freedom: Not License! A. S. Neill Hart Pub Co 0805500162 1966
Experience And Education John Dewey Free Press 0684838281 1997
Democracy And Education John Dewey Free Press 0684836319 1997
Education and the Significance of Life Jiddu Krishnamurti HarperSanFrancisco 0060648767 1981
Minding the Light: Essays in Friendly Pedagogy Dalke, A., Dixson, B. and Dalke, A. (Eds) Peter Lang Pub Inc 0820463574 2006
The Challenge to Care in Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education Nel Noddings Columbia University Teachers College Press, New York 0807746096 1992


A human-centred school is a community of learners. This idea involves a radical reframing of what a school is. This reframing is required in order for the human-centred approaches to curriculum, pedagogy and learning feedback and review to reinforce each other. In fact, putting the person at the centre can only mean that the school be as a learning community. This inevitably involves rethinking a school’s identity and the nature of its culture. Although this process of rethinking may vary according to the specific circumstances of each school, there are some common key issues:

First, the school will be a learning community. By this, we mean that students, staff and other stakeholders have a strong sense of ‘we-ness’ and belonging. Because of this, they feel a responsibility towards each other and towards the betterment of the school.

Second, in a learning community, all members know and respect one another, adults and young people alike. Such intimate knowledge and mutual respect does not come by itself, instead, it is the fruit of interacting through collaborative learning activities, dialogues, community meetings and fora.

Third, the raison d’être of a learning community is to enable us to learn and to become more fully human. Each member is aware of this common purpose and such a mutual recognition of the school’s aim is vitally important for the realisation of a shared culture.

Lastly,  a human-centred learning community also involves a close partnership with parents and others within the wider community. It values the participation of parents as being of pivotal importance for student’s development. Parents themselves may also learn and grow as they participate in the life of the school community.

Thus learning in a community takes place in and through myriad relationships. Although each school tends develop a culture that reflects the stakeholders’ collective preferences, there are eight generally desirable characteristics as follows that express human-centred values and principles:

(a) Integrated in the local community. Ideally, a human-centred learning community would be within walking distance of local businesses, community centres, residential areas and public services (e.g. hospitals, police stations). This will enable young people to more easily make links with the local community, including through work experience and visits, and raise the profile of the school in the community by its proximity.

(b) Flexible teaching spaces. The traditional classroom setting with rows of tables and chairs has long been challenged. From a human-centred perspective, the diversity of curriculum activities demands flexibility of space design, rather than a mere critique of a particular setting. Flexibility allows horseshoe-shaped classrooms, or the group sitting in a circle, both of which enable the group to meet face-to-face. It also stresses that the teacher is not at the centre of the stage but is also part of the group, although he or she is at same time the facilitator and guide in the learning process.

(c) Large indoor spaces with natural light. These spaces are particularly valuable for Group Time (see Chapter 3). Young people need spaces where they can feel free to make noise and where they can be physically more distant from one another. Too often classrooms feel crowded and controlled. Large spaces where students feel less constrained are likely to provide opportunities for more creativity and emotional development.

(d) Green outdoor spaces. These have similar benefits to the indoor spaces described above but with the advantages of fresh air and no walls! Inspiring outdoor spaces can also offer students an alternative working environment when they do not wish to study indoors, as well as opening opportunities for young people to develop their gardening and other outdoor skills, for instance, during Independent Project Time.

(e) Outdoor spaces for organised sports. Outdoor spaces for organised sports are ideally considered as part of the school’s environment. The spaces can have a sufficient range of sport-specific apparatus. For schools that do not have such spaces, access to such outdoor spaces, for example, a community sports centre, sports ground and similar sports facilities, would be necessary.

(f) Large and fully stocked library. The school’s library facilities need to be extensive due to the independent nature of much of the study in a human-centred school. Students need access to a wide range of materials in their own time. It is also desirable for the library to have sufficient comfortable study space close to the books where students can carry out independent study. Contemporary libraries stock more than a collection of books, journals, magazines, and so forth, where possible there could be a digital library, a visual and audio library as well as online and physical records of students’ writings, arts and performances.

(g) Access to technology and specialist facilities. A human-centred school would have sufficient technological resources, such as computers, Internet-based educational resources, and so on, to enable students to access learning materials to carry out their own research. It would also support technology-based learning styles that some staff may employ. Students would also have access to specialist facilities and technology such as darkrooms, cameras, laboratories, design technology apparatus and art supplies.

(h) Quiet spaces for solitary time. There are spaces where young people and adults are able to spend time alone, to reflect, think or simply to clear their minds. Giving members of the school community the possibility of removing themselves from the often-intense social and academic environment and seeking their own company is a way of respecting them. Time spent alone can be powerful in enabling young people to be more thoughtful and less stressed, and it can help them connect with the spiritual and with nature. Both outdoor and inside spaces would make it possible for students and staff to seek solitude at any time.

Human-Centred Education radically rethinks the aims of education, the nature of learning, and the relationship between individuals in schools. This accessible guide presents a HCE approach to schooling and includes a variety of rich pedagogical examples.

It provides practical suggestions as to how the approach might be adopted as a whole-school initiative, or else woven into particular aspects of existing school life, including the curriculum, classroom culture and feedback for learning. This handbook also illustrates how holistic educational practices, found in some alternative schools, can be introduced fruitfully into the state educational system with step-by-step guidance on how to integrate HCE into teacher training and school governance.

HCE is more than a set of inflexible pedagogical prescriptions or a recipe of lesson plans. It originates from the fundamental values of care, positive relationships and well-being. National education policies tend to ignore deeper educational processes, such as the cultivation of qualities that are central to living meaningfully and well, because they focus on measured, high-stakes academic performance. HCE is an effective antidote to this, and brings to the fore a more human-centred approach without sacrificing academic standards.

Current secondary teachers, members of school management and leadership teams, as well as those currently undertaking teacher training will all benefit from reading this important book.

Book Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9781138210837
published: 2017-01-10

Hardback: 9781138210820
published: 2017-01-10

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Could we have a system of secondary education that provides alternatives to the current mainstream schooling and its emphasis on exams, learning outcomes and the delivery of a fixed curriculum? How could such a system focus on both human and educational values? How could secondary education combine the personal development of students with good academic standards? In response to these questions, Gill and Thomson have written a new, cutting-edge text aimed at all those involved in the study of education or teacher training.

Rethinking Secondary Education explores, debates and critiques new and alternative approaches to teaching young people today. The book discusses a ‘human-centred’ approach to curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and the culture of schools and colleges. It is grounded in theory and empirical research, discussing the need for a curriculum for the future, bridging a gap between mainstream and alternative education. It also offers practical guidance on how these ideas can be put into practice, making it an ideal resource for trainee teachers, experienced practitioners and students of education alike. Key features of the text: A balanced approach, comparing and contrasting both traditional and alternative approaches to education Strong grounding in theory and research The inclusion of young people’s perspectives and ‘voices’ on their education and on being an adolescent Links to practice – showing how the theory and research can actually be put into practice to bring about change

At a time when secondary education is so impoverished by the deadly weight of testing and league tables, by performance indicators and targets, it is important to have reasserted the aims of education in terms of personal development, human flourishing and enriching community. ‘Rethinking Secondary Education’ does this admirably. It offers the insights of alternative approaches to education, and does so with a philosophical depth that is rarely seen. This book is a welcome antidote to the impersonal nature of much educational theory and practice. It should be on the reading list of both trainee teachers and those teachers who need to be refreshed in their further professional development.” – Professor Richard Pring, Department of Education, University of Oxford

This is a timely, accessible and engaging book of considerable intellectual stature, bold imagination and practical wisdom. Not only does it develop penetrating, elegant analyses of what is wrong with current state controlled and alternative approaches to contemporary education, it also offers imaginative, practical suggestions for a more fulfilling, human centred alternative.
Professor Michael Fielding, Institute of Education, University of London, UK.

With great sensitivity and force, and in wonderfully clear prose, Scherto Gill and Garrett Thomson explore some fundamental questions about what we want from our education system and what we can expect from it. […] It is highly recommended for all who are interested in education, whether from a more theoretical point of view or from a more practical point of view.
Professor Adrian W. Moore, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford, UK.

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Paperback: 9781408284780
published: 2012-06-07

Hardback: 9781138145429
published: 2016-08-08