A More Humanistic Approach to Education

By , September 11, 2017

Wikipedia: “Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism)”

In my years as an educator, I have always believed in the power of the potential of human beings.  I would argue that what should be connoted with the phrase “human being” ought to be a profound understanding and appreciation that each and every one of us is perfectly imperfect as we are in this exact moment, each in our own unique ways, with our very own histories, contexts, and desires.  With each soul holding on to such individual, and one of a kind truths, it begs that in the education world, teachers try to get to know the tales of each of the young people they teach. A good teacher tries to make human to human connections with their students and tries to get to know them as people.  This philosophy was clear to me early in my career, when I was a science teacher.  Later, as I moved on to teach in the AVID program, and then after that, in the district’s Career Education program, this appreciation dug in even deeper.

What I have recently put together as a career educator is that widespread, curricular career education needs to be made available to students also through a humanistic lens.  In addition to delivery to students in a recursive manner, career education should ask young people to learn about themselves. I was excited to learn last year that self-inquiry is one of British Columbia’s new education curriculum’s core competencies.  Students must know WHO THEY ARE (self-awareness of one’s values, interests, strengths, limitations, etc.), and this self-inquiry and career education should be recursive, of course, because people and the contexts they’re in CHANGE constantly.

Combined with self-knowledge, young people also need opportunities to access information about potential paths, and opportunities to practice skills that they will need on each respective, individualized path worked in throughout the courses of their educational experiences.

Community gatherings where we celebrate the career accomplishments of our young people are a regular occurrence in School District 60.

Further, another humanistic approach: learning directly from the experiences of others in one’s own local context is beneficial to students. Community engagement is a vital link here, because it is from members of the community that students can learn from first hand, the daily life realities of various career or education options.  This is where we tap into the inherent strength of a human collective. This is an area in which School District 60 has done well historically, but of course, there is always room for wider spread use of this teaching strategy throughout more classrooms, and the District welcomes more local companies and organizations to liaise with us in providing access to career path information through events like Career Days or guest speaking engagements.

Karis T. was a gold medal winner in the regional Skills Canada competition in February 2017. We celebrate the stories of our young people!

If you’d like to work with us in giving the gift of information to young people as they make decisions that affect their futures, please contact the School District 60 Careers department at 250-262-6027 or 250-261-8203.

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