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.

Principles of Humanistic Education

Thank you for the progress in developing the Human Studies website

I should like to add, for us all to consider, the following Principles of Humanistic Education:

1) Students should be able to choose what they want to learn.
Humanistic teachers believe that students will be motivated to learn a
subject if it’s something they need and want to know.

2) The goal of education should be to foster students’ desire to learn
and teach them how to learn. Students should be self-motivated in
their studies and desire to learn on their own.

3) Humanistic educators believe that grades are irrelevant and that
only self-evaluation is meaningful. Grading encourages students to
work for a grade and not for personal satisfaction. In addition,
humanistic educators are opposed to objective tests because they test
a student’s ability to memorize and do not provide sufficient
educational feedback to the teacher and student.

4) Humanistic educators 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.

5) Humanistic educators insist that schools need to provide students
with a non threatening environment so that they will feel secure to
learn. Once students feel secure, learning becomes easier and more
meaningful.

Summary:
The five basic principles of humanistic education can be summarized as follows:
1) Students’ learning should be self-directed.
2) Schools should produce students who want and know how to learn.
3) The only form of meaningful evaluation is self-evaluation.
4) Feelings, as well as knowledge, are important in the learning process.
5) Students learn best in a non threatening environment.

Thanks
Agnes Katusabe, Headteacher, Star Classic Humanist Nursery School, Bundibugyo District

Trees for Life

Thanks for the Trees for Life document. Its a good one with  lots of helpful information about trees and citing the different types of trees we have in the world. I am happy that you have sighted some examples of indigenous trees here in Uganda as well.
I am sending in a write up about the tree initiatives I currently work on at my schools. Perhaps you can pass it on to other schools, I know they will find it useful. My tree initiatives are ongoing.
In the “Trees for life” document, you can also mention about palm trees that they can provide palm oil, sweeping brooms and the excess oils to provide raw materials to make soap and the residue is used for manure.
All in all, looking forward for contributions from other colleagues.
Best regards,
Bwambale M Robert
School Director
Kasese Humanist School (Rukoki / Muhokya/ Kahendero)
P.O.Box 58  Kasese  –  Uganda

Pandemics: Learning outcomes

It is very important to give children in Humanist Schools a deep understanding pandemics and epidemics.

The challenge is to reduce as much as possible the negative impact
this pandemic will have on learning and schooling and build on this
experience to get back on a path of faster improvement in learning.

As education systems cope with this crisis, we must also be thinking of
how we can recover stronger, with a renewed sense of responsibility of
all actors and with a better understanding and sense of urgency of the
need to close the gap in opportunities and assuring that all children
have the same chances for a quality education.

The good news is that many of the improvements, initiatives, and
investments that our school systems will have to make might have a
positive long-lasting effect.

There is need to prioritise and increase teachers’ digital skills.
Those schools with internet-enabled computers have not been deeply
affected by the lock down. Their students have been accessing lessons
online, especially the top primary, P7 candidates who will be sitting their primary-leaving examination (P.L.E) who have access to learning packages for all subjects.
Best regards
Juma Irumba Siriwayo, Chair of Katumba Parents’ Humanist Primary & Nursery School, Bundibugyo District

Pandemic: First topic for Human Studies website

Thanks for this fine work.

There is widespread teaching here in churches and mosques that covid-19 is god’s punishment for people’s sins. However, the history of epidemics and their scientific cause demystifies such lame thinking. In my lifetime, there was an outbreak of leprosy and tsetse flies in this part of Uganda and the same belief was perpetuated. I think these were bacterial  but nonetheless a topic like the one you have formulated helps to grow the scientific understanding of children as well as equipping them with skills to overcome epidemics.

I think it would be a good idea to add targeted learning outcomes to each topic.

Thanks once again.Regards.

Moses Kamya, Director/Headteacher, Mustard Seed Secondary School, Busota, Kamuli District.

Launch of Human Studies Website

We are delighted to be putting this new Human Studies website online.

Its aim is to provide an resource bank for introducing young people to Humanism and some of the wider issues that face Humanity.

It is being developed as a joint venture involving Uganda Humanist Schools Trust, the Uganda Humanist Schools Association and Humanist Schools in Uganda.

We hope the site will help to foster a shared culture among the Humanist Schools in Uganda, and that the materials will enrich the educational experiences of the young people that attend these pioneering schools. We regard all the materials as works in progress. They will be adapted in the light of feedback from their use with students.

We hope that teachers and young people around the world will also adapt the materials to suit their own needs and share with us their experiences. We welcome suggestions from international partners for enhancements to this website and links to other materials that would help teachers and students in Uganda and elsewhere to develop a caring community and global view of pressing issues facing humanity.

We are very grateful to the Center for Education of the American Humanist Association for allowing us to adapt their publication “Ten Commitments of Living Humanist Values: Workbook for Kids“, which gave us a critical mass of materials to launch the website. We look forward to extending this partnership and also to working with other Humanist organisations around the world.