Thoughts on Humanistic Education

Choice and control:
I suggest that the humanist approach should place a great deal of
emphasis on students’ choice and control over the course of their
education. Students should be  encouraged to make choices that range
from day-to-day activities to periodically setting future life goals.
This allows for students to focus on a specific subject of interest
for any amount of time they choose, within reason. Humanistic teachers
should  believe  that it is important for students to be motivated and
engaged in the material they are learning, and this happens when the
topic is something the students need and want to know.

Felt concerns:
Humanistic education should  focus on the felt concerns and interests
of the students intertwining with the intellect. It is believed that
the overall mood and feeling of the students can either hinder or
foster the process of learning.

The whole person:
Humanistic educators should believe that both feelings and knowledge
are important to the learning process. Unlike traditional educators,
humanistic teachers do not separate the cognitive and effective
domains. This aspect also relates to the curriculum in the sense that
lessons and activities provide focus on various aspects of the student
and not just rote memorization through note taking and lecturing.

Self evaluation:
Humanistic educators should believe that grades are irrelevant and
that only self-evaluation is meaningful. Grading encourages students
to work for a grade and not for intrinsic satisfaction. Humanistic
educators disagree with routine testing because they teach students
rote memorization as opposed to meaningful learning . They should also
believe that testing doesn’t provide sufficient educational feedback
to the teacher.

Teacher as a facilitator:
The teacher should be more supportive than critical, more
understanding than judgmental, more genuine than playing a role.
Their job is to foster an engaging environment for the students and
ask inquiry-based questions that promote meaningful learning .

Environment of Learning:
The environment in the  school which focuses their practice on
humanistic education  should  have a very different setting than a
traditional school. It  should consist of both indoor and outdoor
environments with a majority of time being spent outdoors. The indoor
setting may contain a few tables and chairs, bean bags for quiet
reading and relaxation, book shelves, hide-aways, kitchens, lots of
color and art posted on the walls. The outdoor environment is very
engaging for students. You might find tree houses, outdoor kitchens,
sand boxes, play sets, natural materials, sporting activities etc. The
wide range of activities should be offered for students allowing for
free choices of interest.

Other Suggestions
Creativity,more student thinking and interactivity, less violence, and
both teacher and student satisfaction .
Effective teachers being empathetic, caring for or prizing their
students, and being authentic or genuine in their classroom presence.
Best regards
Juma Irumba Siriwayo, Katumba Parents’ Humanist School, Bundibugyo District.

Published by Steve Hurd

Chair, Uganda Humanist Schools Trust Former teacher, teacher trainer, curriculum developer, educational researcher and economist. Teaching and project experience in the UK and in Uganda.

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