The GHFP’s HCE pilot in a school in La Tebaida, Colombia, is witnessing transformative experiences in the students. The Mentoring sessions provide a safe space for students to share their lives in ways they have seldom done before. The caring from the pastoral team has touched the students deeply, and they feel that their life matters and their well-being is respected.

For the team to work together concertedly, the professional learning and professional development entails a few aspects:

First, the team share their respective learning biographies as a basis for each teacher to articulate their personal ‘theorisation’ of learning and approaches to teaching. This sharing in turn helps bring teachers closer as their appreciation of each other’s narrative and life histories deepens. 

Second, teachers form pairs and each pair forms a mentoring partnership who would observe and provide feedback to the other on activity design, classroom teaching, and interaction with students.

Third, once a week, the team would spend time to read HCE theories together and discuss how key philosophical ideas might be relevant and applied to the school’s situation, especially in terms of how teachers relate to the students. 

Equally, the weekly meeting is also a social time when the team share stories of the week over coffee. The message is clear: professional development is fun and relaxing.

A Child’s Garden of Peace (ACGP)* is a collaborative effort to create gardens where children can play in peace. Children, parents, teachers and other members of the school community take part in developing the garden together. Once established, children will continue to work with others in nurturing the garden, learn to care for the plants, and grow food for themselves and their families. It is an excellent example of HCE in practice as it locates learning within community relationships and thereby enrich these relationships and in the processes of caring – caring for children’s learning and well-being, caring for the flourishing of the community, and caring for nature.

The GHFP sponsored the garden project (el huerto) in Puebla, Mexico. This is a collaboration with the Fundacion BP Casa Cuna Palafox y Mendoza, a child care center serving poor families with children aged 0 to 5. The garden is fully integrated in the daycare centre’s educational activities. The project engages children in all aspects of the garden, including composting food waste from the kitchen, planting vegetable gardens, herbs and fruit trees and collecting and making food. Young children learn first hand about the food they eat and explore the life cycle of nature.

*A Child’s Garden of Peace is founded and directed by Dr. Illène Pevec

On Wednesday 20th March, the HCE team will welcome local Well-Being Leaders and Coordinators from across Brighton and Hove to join us for a twilight seminar on “A Whole School Approach to Well-Being in Secondary Schools“.

well-being_treeThe seminar offers an opportunity to explore and share good practices on well-being and inclusion and to make links with local colleagues. It will begin with an inspiring keynote from Professor Colleen McLaughlin, Director of Education Innovation at the University of Cambridge, to spark discussion and raise pertinent questions. This will be followed by facilitated open dialogue and sharing, through which participants will be encouraged to develop a rich understanding and awareness of critical issues relating to student (and staff) well-being in secondary schools.

The seminar will take place on Wednesday 20th March 2019, 15:30-17:30 (coffee and refreshments available from 15.00). It is free to attend, but places are limited.

This event would be of interest to anyone in a leadership role associated with student (and teacher) well-being or pastoral care, such as Deputy/Assistant Heads leading on these areas, SENDCos, and so forth. For enquiries or to book, please do get in contact via our website.

It will be sponsored and hosted by the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace (GHFP), a Brighton based international think-tank dedicated to promoting well-being and whole-person learning. The GHFP is also the sponsor of the Human-Centred Education Programmes.

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.

A learning community:

(1) Is integrated in the local community. Ideally, a human-centred learning community is within walking distance of local businesses, community centres, residential areas and public services (e.g. hospitals, police stations). This enables 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.

(2) Has 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. Such flexibility might allow horseshoe-shaped classrooms, or the group to sit in a circle, both of which enable the class to meet face-to-face. A human centred teacher is not on the centre of the stage; she facilitates and guides, but she is also part of the group.

(3) Has large indoor spaces with natural light. These spaces are particularly valuable for Group Emotional Exploration Time. 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.

(4) Provides students access to green outdoor spaces. These have similar benefits to large indoor spaces but with the advantages of fresh air and no walls! Inspiring green outdoor spaces can also offer students an alternative working environment when they do not wish to study indoors, as well as opening opportunities for developing gardening and other outdoor skills, for instance, during Independent Project Time.

(5) Offers students the opportunities for organised sports. The school should allow students uncomplicated access to a sufficient range of sport-specific apparatus. eg. a sports centre or sports ground.

(6) Has a 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. Ideally the library has sufficient comfortable study space close to the books where students can carry out independent study. Where possible there should be a digital library and a audio/visual library, as well as online and physical records of students’ writings, arts and performances.

(7) Offers access to technology and specialist facilities. A human-centred school should have sufficient technological resources (computers, Internet-based educational resources, etc.) to enable students to access learning materials to carry out their own research, as well as supporting technology-based learning styles. Students would ideally also have access to specialist facilities and technology such as darkrooms, cameras, laboratories, design technology apparatus and art supplies.

(8) Provides quiet spaces for solitary time. These 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.

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
The Pestalozzi Experiment in Child-based Education Rebecca Wild Shambhala Publications 1570624550 2006
To Educate the Human Potential 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 David R. Olson and Nancy Torrance Blackwell Publishers 0631211861 1998
The Philosophy of Human Learning Christopher Winch Routledge 0415161908 1998
Complexities of Teaching : Child-Centred Perspectives Ciaran Surgrue Falmer Press 0750704799 1997
The Aims of Education and Other Essays Alfred North Whitehead Simon & Schuster 0029351804 1967
How Children Learn 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 Nel Noddings Columbia University Teachers College Press 0807746096 1992

 

rethinking_secondary_education

Rethinking Secondary Education: A Human-Centred Approach by Scherto Gill & Garrett Thomson, published by Pearson Education in 2012. This book articulates and develops a human-centred vision from conceptual perspectives. These theories form the philosophical underpinning of Human-Centred Education.

This is a timely, accessible and engaging book of considerable intellectual stature, bold imagination and practical wisdom.” – Professor Michael Fielding, Institute of Education, University of London, UK.

 

 

Human-Centred Education: A Practical Handbook and Guide by Scherto Gill & Garrett Thomson, published by Routledge in 2016. This book presents a HCE approach to schooling. It provides implementable suggestions as to how HCE might be adopted as a whole-school initiative, or else woven into particular aspects of existing school life. “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

A human-centred school is a community of persons. This inevitably involves radically rethinking a school’s identity and the nature of its culture. This process of rethinking will vary according to the specific circumstances of each school, but there are some common key aspects to all human-centred schools:

  • 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.
  • All members know and respect one another, adults and young people alike. Such intimate knowledge and mutual respect are the fruit of interaction through collaborative learning activities, dialogues, community meetings and fora.
  • All persons in the community recognise that learning is to become more fully human. This awareness of a school’s purpose and the aims of education is vitally important for the realisation of a shared culture.
  • There is a close partnership with parents and others within the wider community whose participation is of pivotal importance for students’ learning and development. Parents themselves may also learn and grow as they participate in the life of the school community.

By embedding these values across the whole school community, it is possible to create a culture where curriculum, pedagogy and feedback and review can reinforce each other.

For more information on the kinds of practical features core to a learning community, see What is a Learning Community Like?

Learning Mentors work with the student on one-to-one level. We tend to call this vertical mentoring which is different from horizontal mentoring, such as group mentoring and peer mentoring. There are broadly five key aspects to the work of mentoring between an adult learning mentor and a student:

Getting to know the student
– getting to know the student’s background (eg, life history)
– understanding the student’s character traits (eg. learning biography)
– knowing the student’s strengths and weaknesses (eg. talents, skills and knowledge)
– discovering the student’s personal goals (eg. main interests and passions)

Setting the context for learning
– the context of secondary education and educational processes of schooling to link education to one’s overall personal development
– the context of the curriculum and each aspect of it to clarify what to study and why
– the context of standards to understand what counts as progress and how to make progress accordingly

Helping construct personal goals, Learning Agreement and tailored curriculum
– articulating a set of goals for the short, medium and long term
– drawing up a Learning Agreement
– formulating a learning plan
– mapping out the student’s learning activities

Nurturing, challenging and supporting the student’s holistic development
– being attentive the student’s learning processes
– posing right questions at the right time to encourage the student’s reflection on learning and experiences
– helping the student pinpoint the obstacles to learning and overcome them
– enabling the student forge a picture of their future and learning trajectories towards it

Providing feedback
– providing feedback on the student learning
– reviewing student’s progress
– preparing a personalised record to represent progress (eg. learning portfolios)

Whilst one-to-one mentoring with a dedicated Learning Mentor is one approach to implementing mentoring, schools might also consider other models, such as group mentoring (facilitated by an adult) and peer mentoring, in which students are empowered to support and guide one another. These other approaches to mentoring will have many common features, and all mentors (peer or adult) will require training in active listening, dialogue and mutual learning.

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.

Human-Centred Education (HCE) radically rethinks the aims of education, the nature of learning, and the relationship between individuals in schools. This accessible guide presents a human-centred approach to schooling and includes a variety of rich pedagogical examples, such as adopting HCE as a whole-school initiative, or else woven HCE into particular aspects of existing school life. 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.

Human-Centred Education 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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