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.

For a school to become a learning community, it requires processes whereby leaders, staff members, students, parents and others in the community integrate and live out human-centred values and imbibe a human-centred culture. Redesigning the school involves a systemic approach to transformation in five core areas:

  1. Uniting all stakeholders around a common vision and a shared set of values. The more a school and its members are clear and aware of its vision and values, the more likely they will live and embody the values of care and respect, the more such values become the very fabric of the community.
  2. Adopting a set of HCE policies, agreed upon by the community as a whole, which will guide practice in the school. These policies must be aligned with the main aim of education as the holistic development of the students as whole persons.
  3. Introducing some elements (curriculum areas) of the HCE curriculum, in accordance with the school’s conditions and situation. These should be introduced in conjunction with HCE pedagogy and evaluative practices.
  4. Nurturing a HCE culture, in which there is no fear (e.g. of failure, of authority, of teachers, of punishment, of speaking one’s mind). This is a starting point for the creation of a culture of caring, respect and mutuality.
  5. Developing institutional processes to train and support teachers. In doing so, teachers will begin to relish newly defined activities within the HCE curriculum and welcome new opportunities for personal and professional learning. This involves shifting teachers’ mindset from teaching as instructing and delivering, towards teaching as dialogue, collaboration, co-creation and facilitation.

For support with integrating an HCE approach in your school, including teacher training and professional development, please do contact us.

In HCE, feedback is an integral part of students’ learning. It is vital that Mentors, Facilitators and Tutors not only reflect with the student on their progress but also liaise with each other so as to give the student consistent feedback.

Human-Centred feedback for students has four essential features.

A. It exemplifies the idea that students are responsible for their own learning.

B. It embodies the principle that such learning consists in the student’s holistic development.

C. It requires that the student understands the relevant standards well. The process of providing feedback is one of helping the student understand what counts as good (and better) and why. What counts as improvement depends in part on the student’s own goals and such improvement must be holistic; it cannot be merely academic in the normal sense of the word. It will include the development of character, disposition and other personal qualities.

D. It is non-judgemental. Feedback ought to be loving, generous and usually gentle, because such qualities are fundamental for the student to improve. Feedback should be framed in terms that encourage development in relation to one’s own past (relative to a set of standards or criteria), rather than in competition or comparison with others. It should embody and require critical self-reflection.

It may be helpful to think of such feedback as being addressed at four levels.

(1) Feedback pertaining to specific projects or tasks. Such feedback should be timely, focusing on giving very practical advice in terms of the strengths of the student’s work and suggestions for ways of improving its quality. This feedback might be immediate, taking place during class, or be given in  written comments. Non-judgemental and more informative than a grade, this can help the student improve the quality of her work.

(2) Feedback on learning processes and approaches. This feedback is based on an overview of the student’s learning journey over a period of time, and their ability to take responsibility for their learning experience. The emphasis of such feedback is on enhancing the student’s abilities and approaches to understanding.

(3) Feedback on commitment and confidence. Such feedback is connected to how learning supports the cultivation of personal qualities and caring dispositions and, therefore, will most likely be provided by the Mentor.

(4) Feedback on overall development as a person. Once again, such advice is often provided by a Mentor who knows the student well, including her interests, priorities and personal trajectories.