In search for an integral approach

Ilze Jēče

An educational approach that brings forward our interconnection and interdependence, is inspiring for courageous actions toward a more peaceful and compassionate planet, and encourages one to live life in integrity.

Humane education can be defined as: “A process that encourages an understanding of the need for compassion and respect for people, animals and the environment, and recognizes the interdependence of all living things.” Four key elements of humane education: • Providing accurate information (so we have the knowledge to face challenges) • Fostering the 3C’s: curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking (so we have the tools to meet challenges) • Instilling the 3R’s: reverence, respect, and responsibility (so we have the motivation to confront challenges) • Offering positive choices and tools for problem-solving (so we will be able to solve challenges). Thus, humane education not only instills the desire and capacity to live with compassion, integrity and wisdom, but also provides the knowledge and tools to put our values into action in meaningful, far-reaching ways so that we can find solutions that work for all. More information and ideas for activities on

Entering a classroom at Harvard University to attend a workshop on sustainable consumerism, I was not expectant for big discoveries or aha moments. Yet attending this class for just a few hours was to shape the way I was going to work in the years to come. This workshop was delivered by a teacher that had left a high-paying job in the fashion industry, now to speak out not only about the impact of our everyday clothing choices, but also about the interdependence of all and inspire everyone to take action for a better and happier planet. Finally, I had come across an educational approach that did not turn away from uncomfortable questions about our everyday choices and their impact, interlinking a variety of seemingly separate subjects of oppression, people, animals and environment. At the end of the day, it is about our ability to extend compassion and care to all living beings and to be motivated to make a difference.

Humane education tackles four main areas; human rights, environmental protection, animal welfare and the wellbeing of all. Few are the organizations that dare to take such a wide scope and connect all of the existing issues in single educational activity. Yet ultimately, the problem in one field points to problems in others, and the more aspects and interests we take into account while solving the world’s challenges, the more sustainable solutions we might be able to find. After attending the

workshop, I rushed to bring humane educators to Latvia and co-create a summer camp providing English classes through humane education activities for school kids. The camp was one of the best in terms of teamwork and content; openness to talk about every subject, discuss sensitive issues with the intention to listen with care, find ways to do most good and least harm, it created an environment of co-operation and hope.

it is about our ability to extend compassion and care to all living beings and to be motivated to make a difference

At least twelve years have passed since I first heard the concept of humane education. Since then I have been integrating single humane education activities and their approach in the courses I facilitate. I have witnessed many aha moments due to the numerous discoveries of how the products we consume are made, and how powerful we might be at influencing the agenda of companies and governments, locally and internationally. And we might just start at being inspired by our own life and seek ways to transform daily life so that we can live with more integrity and really strive to walk the talk. For me, this approach has given hope that as social change-agents, we will dare to be critical to our limiting thinking patterns, dare to be more critical to information presented to us, be more creative as to how the challenges we are presented get resolved. Let us be more inspired to fill our lives with little deeds of service to others and the planet, and ultimately, ourselves.

What attracted me the most to humane education was the care for the human heart

What attracted me the most to humane education was the care for the human heart. Humane education centres around bringing more sincerity, kindness and joy to experience on this planet, relating with other beings, being curious and pro-active in co-creating a meaningful imprint of our life on the face of the Earth. I truly believe that the inner transformation that happens when we are faced with good information combined with increased skills in creativity, critical thinking and collaboration, being exposed to role models and many possibilities to do greater good in this world, we are bound to make a difference and inspire others to do so.

What moves in you when you see others make a difference? In what areas of your life can you make different choices to do more good, and less harm?

What do you feel passionate about in this world and ready to take a stand for?

What are your talents, skills and knowledge that you can bring into your work as an educator for change?

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Czech, German, Italian, Latvian

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Inner Pathways
Innovative approaches in learning for Sustainability
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