The aims of education
Human-Centred Education (HCE) respects the whole person and values the holistic development of each individual. It focuses on empowering young people to pursue a rich, meaningful, flourishing life during adolescence and throughout their adulthood. It focuses to nurture those core personal qualities and dispositions that make us more fully human, including inner integrity, relationships with others, and care for the world at large.
HCE asserts that the development of whole persons/human beings is paramount and should have priority over other general educational aims, such as students’ academic excellence, national economic growth or social transformation.
The nature of learning
A human-centred approach challenges the standard dictionary definition of learning as the acquisition of knowledge and skills. This view needs (at least) to be supplemented with the idea of learning to be, that is, to have human qualities, such as the capacity to take responsibility for oneself and to care for others, as well as qualities such as those relating to understanding, including curiosity, persistence and patience. Without these qualities, knowledge and skills can mean little. This is because personal qualities involve caring about the right things in the right way and they are central to a holistic view of human development. The relevant qualities and virtues may differ between individuals, cultures and societies, as well as depend on a subject of learning. It means that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model of education can only provide something superficial.
The needs of students
During adolescence, young people tend to struggle for autonomy, seek a new sense of self and form close relationships with others. They need to be challenged, supported, cared for and guided through this time of unprecedented physical, emotional, psychological and social transformation. A Human-Centred Education is tailored to meet these diverse needs, providing opportunities for the young person to flourish.
Core HCE values
(a) Human life has primary intrinsic value and shouldn’t be instrumentalised.
(b) Adolescence is not merely a preparation for adult life. Schooling is a lived experience and an important part of a young person’s current life; schools must provide a culture and spaces for young people to enjoy this special time of life.
(c) Students cannot be treated as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge and information in order to attain grades. HCE provides time and spaces for students to develop proactivity in the pursuit of learning and to be responsible for their ongoing personal development.
(d) A school should be developed as a learning community. HCE transcends interactions and relationships that are defined solely by roles within the school; roles are goal-defined functions, but we are more than such functions.
(e) A human-centred learning community is underpinned by a culture of respect and genuine concern for the well-being of each person. As such, schools can provide a respectful culture in which individuals relate to each other in a caring way. Schools should become a home-away-from-home for the student.
The HCE vision calls for an explicit shift from schools as controlled spaces for receiving instruction to schools as humanising learning communities. This vision will guide the planning, design and nurturing of relationships, and place qualities-based processes of personal development at the core of the HCE curriculum. It also transforms the nature of pedagogy and of learning feedback and review.