A human-centred curriculum is constructed around the overall developmental and current needs of the student. Its construction would not be based primarily on academic subjects and fixed end-results or learning outcomes, though these are not ruled out. Instead, a human-centred curriculum focuses on developing central qualities necessary for the flourishing of the whole person. It will touch and transform the motivational, cognitive, social and affective aspects of the student’s nature. Such a curriculum can offer a challenging and compelling learning experience in which students are actively engaged with what they have chosen to do and to learn. They are therefore more likely to become self-motivated, resourceful and responsible learners.
The human-centred approach takes into account more directly the particular nature, talents, strengths and weaknesses of the student as a focus of the learning process. Where possible, the curriculum will be co-constructed with the student in close consultation with a Learning Mentor and Subject Tutor.
Therefore instead of being subject-based which tends to separate knowledge into silos, a human-centred curriculum divides learning experiences into time slots for different kinds of development. These are open-ended processes that teachers facilitate, guided by relevant principles. For these reasons, we have developed the seven curriculum areas as follows: For these reasons, we have developed the seven curriculum areas as follows:
Direction Time: This is led by a Learning Mentor who will ideally be working with the student for the entire duration of the 3–4 years in their secondary education. Mentoring sessions provide a space for the student to be guided in order to internalise educational standards, identify their talents, interests and preferred field of work in later life, review their progress in learning and be gently challenged towards self-awareness and self-guidance.
Group Time: This includes both peer-led sessions, where small groups of students meet to discuss each person’s progress, and intense group sessions directed at emotional sharing and personal development, facilitated by a professional Facilitator. All sessions are open-ended in focus and integrate a variety of activities, such as dialogue, contemplation, drama, arts, music and movement, and other creative approaches, allowing young people to explore their emotional landscape and discuss relationship issues in a safe, caring environment. We must bear in mind that emotional time is not aimed at sorting out emotional issues in order to perform well academically, or to motivate the students to focus on the academic work. Emotions are important part of being human and we want young people to feel well and to flourish.
Cognitive Development Time: This part of the curriculum is guided by Cognitive Coaches and is devoted to critical thinking, reasoning and self-conscious understanding of how one directs one’s attention and uses one’s cognitive abilities. It aims to cultivate the student’s capacity to listen and speak, and read and write, as well as more abstract thinking capabilities such as comprehension, systematic analysis, argumentation, deduction, criticism, questioning and making relevant connections. In other words, when students have opportunity to develop and expand their intelligence, they are less likely to become disaffected by the external imposed curriculum.
Project Time: This is dedicated time for the student to develop their own project(s) directed by a Project Supervisor or Tutor. The project might include vocational training, work experience, social work, academic work in the form of an inquiry, or a combination of the above. The aim is for the student to have learning experiences that relate directly to the kinds of activity they are interested in and might want to pursue later in life.
Subject Time: This is taught by Academic Tutors and meets each student’s need for knowledge, skills and virtues in a more specialised area. When a student has an increased self-awareness and a clearer direction in life, this part of the curriculum can serve two purposes. First, it can enable them to connect to subject contents, which points their attention outwards. Second, it can help them to improve the relevant skills, attitudes and aptitudes, pointing attention inwards in a more self-reflective way. The latter is also being developed during Cognitive Development Time.
General Knowledge Time: This part of the curriculum consists of brief and concentrated units that build into short, intense modules. These units are taught by Academic Tutors and are designed for students who are ready to learn and have sufficient background skills to understanding and benefit from the general knowledge unit. General Knowledge Time can be integrated with Specialist Subject Time.
Exploration Time: This part of the curriculum is organised and facilitated by the Mentors and provides opportunities for students to broaden their horizons. It involves engaging in a full range of activities within the school, including sports and physical activities, arts, drama and music activities, clubs, academic groups, school meetings and so forth. It also includes experiences outside of the school, e.g. taster sessions at higher education, visits to work places, services in the community, and so on.