Archive for September 13, 2018

Humanism in the classroom

I recently read an excerpt by Laura Zucca-Scott from “Know Thyself: The Importance of Humanism in Education,” International Education,  (2010). My insights on this approach to teaching became personally insightful and I feel the need to share this concept!

Humanism is when teachers find ways to connect with every student and their practices are learner centered. From,  a broader definition is:

In humanism, learning is student centered and personalized, and the educator’s role is that of a facilitator. Affective and cognitive needs are key, and the goal is to develop self-actualized people in a cooperative, supportive environment.

My reflection on Zucca-Scott’s argument was the following:

I left the public school setting six years ago, and tried to teach online. That lasted one year because in online program which I was working there was corruption from the administration and the program was overhauled. Not only did I not get my job back but the district to which I had served for five years (in a very difficult to staff school) had no concept of humanity and therefore, decided to let me go because I didn’t pass their new hiring test (of which I had to take to reapply for the job that I had already demonstrated above and beyondness). In fact, as I reflect why I didn’t try to go back to another school or another district, I realize that there had so much rejection as my person hood in my professional life, that I was worn out and beaten.

Fast forward to five year later, I run a successful tutoring business. I start meeting a new tutoring family by having a conversation. We talk about goals, interests, schooling experiences, hopes and expectations. Our conversation naturally flows to family and usually ends up with high fives, handshakes, and intense eye gazing. Daily, I teach with the thought that “All students have talents; they just do not always have the opportunity to express those talents.” (Zucca-Scott, 2010). In fact, I’m reminded of one student whom I am currently working with in my practice. He’s now a junior in high school, has been diagnosed with autism, and is an incredible artist. He’s depictions of war scenes, his caricatures, and his fine detail are an inspiration to the moment that he’s captured. I’ve suggested, many times to the family, that he should look into becoming an children’s book illustrator as he both loves the task and has a great skill for drawing. When I collaborated with his case manager, who’d been working with him for over a year at the time, I mentioned his strength with the pen. His teacher had no idea that this student could even draw. To think that this student’s talent hasn’t been honored or encouraged or supported meant to me that his instructors are so focused on their curriculum that they’ve lost sight of his humanity.

I have reflected that over the years of service in public school the moments that I have had the greatest impact on student’s education is when I look at “…the whole child, who is not simply composed of intellect but is emotional and spiritual as well.” (Barrier-Ferreria, 2007, as reported by Zucca-Scott, 2010). This brings to mind when I dived into the world of a student who loved movies—so we did movie math, research papers on theaters, read movie reviews and connected over his passion for wanting to become a director. Another student had a love of Sonic the Hedgehog. This was a harder connection to make but I knew Sonic was a safe place for her. Having Sonic with her meant that she could triangulate with another character and conversations didn’t have to be confrontational.

Humanism isn’t a way to take assessments and curriculum out of schools, it’s a way to really know our students, what they can accomplish and push them to higher levels because we know their goals, their strengths, and their fears and how to support them.

I hope that as move forward in my career, wherever the path may lead me, that I can bring the humanity with each interaction with colleagues, students, and parents.


September 13, 2018 at 8:26 am Leave a comment

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