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Education for Human Greatness

Susan Notes:

Join the discussion for
improving public education. Read this statement
and visit the website at the url below.
Currently, 150 educators and parents from
across the country have joined, believing we
can make a difference.

Educating for Human Greatness represents the
recommendations of a coalition of experienced
educators and parents whose mission is to
introduce a higher vision of teaching, thinking
and learning. Our combined experience tells us
that compulsory, assigned learning to pass
tests is superficial and temporary compared
with learning from personal curiosity that is
deep and enduring. We have a vision of schools
where teachers, parents and students are
mutually respected and where they help each
other draw forth their best gifts, talents and

Our conventional education system compels
teachers to generate test scores, not develop
contributors. Teachers are being pressured to
teach basic skills as ends in and of
themselves, focusing primarily on the mechanics
of reading, writing and mathematics, divorced
from other studies. This sterile approach
destroys curiosity and imagination, and breeds
an aversion to formal learning. Many current
programs, especially in reading instruction,
put forward by text book publishers as
“research-based,” are contrary to the way
children learn. These programs have often
destroyed the desire of children to read for
enjoyment and information.

What is the kind of education we need in the
21st century that brings forth greater well
being for all life? The framework we propose is
based upon a higher goal and purpose for
education: Develop human beings to be
contributors, not burdens, to society. The
proposals for reaching this goal are supported
by both honest research and the experiences of
highly esteemed and respected educators, and
reflect what actually works to help students
fall in love with learning, develop their full
range of gifts, talents, abilities, and possess
positive, constructive attitudes. We ask, “How
do children learn and what are the best
practices to support learning?”

Educational research has been telling us for
years that we need to significantly alter our
culture’s perception of what education is for,
and our view of people and how they develop. To
this end, “Educating for Human Greatness”
introduces a higher vision of teaching,
thinking and learning. To achieve this vision,
we offer a framework upon which community
schools can be built, consisting of these seven
principles: Identity, Interaction, Inquiry,
Imagination, Initiative, Intuition and

These are principles, what we're calling the
necessary traits for "human greatness," that we
believe could guide a school’s curriculum. In
essence, these are the outcomes we hope to see
over time as children grow and develop. They

â€Â˘ Identity – Schools help students learn
who they are—individuals with unlimited
potential. Schools, teachers, and classrooms
help students develop their unique talents and
gifts in order to realize self-worth and
develop a strong desire to be contributors to
family, school and community.

â€Â˘ Inquiry – Schools stimulate curiosity;
awaken a sense of wonder and appreciation for
nature and humankind. Teachers help students
develop the power to ask important questions
about their selves and their worlds.

â€Â˘ Interaction – Schools promote courtesy,
caring, communication and cooperation. We know
schools work when we see students asking
important questions and working together to
explore answers.

â€Â˘ Initiative – Teachers foster self-
directed learning, will power and self-

â€Â˘ Imagination – Classrooms nurture
creativity in all of its many forms.

â€Â˘ Intuition – Help students learn how to
feel and recognize truth with their hearts as
well as with their minds.

â€Â˘ Integrity – Schools help students
develop honesty, character, morality and
responsibility for self and others.

We see subjects, such as math, science,
history, the arts, civics, physical education,
etc., not as ends in themselves but tools
towards realizing these abilities. In the
emerging world of the 2tst Century, where the
magnitude of content in these subject areas is
overwhelming, these seven principles represent
attributes that facilitate ongoing acquisition,
synthesis and application of knowledge in a
meaningful way for students.

“Assessment” helps us make sense of how
children are integrating themselves into their
communities and our democracy, as well as
indicating a student’s progress of mastery of
skills and development of their gifts and
talents. Rather than relying on unreliable test
information, education for human greatness
relies more on human dialogue to evaluate the
quality and effectiveness of formal education.
We recommend that teachers, parents, and peers
use the seven principles of human greatness to
guide inquiry and learning as well as to
evaluate student, teacher, and school
performance during the course of the year. Are
students asking important questions about their
world? Are teachers helping students find
answers to their questions? What can we all do
better each day and over the course of the next

To this end, we recommend that schools
encourage and facilitate students to keep a
record of their development and growth in the
dimensions of greatness and special events as
contributors to the class and community.
Students will be invited to make presentations—
representative of their ages and abilities—to
the community. A final “rite of passage”
graduation ceremony will be held for each
student to explain and demonstrate all the ways
s/he has grown in the seven dimensions of
greatness and used them to become a
responsible, contributing member of society.

Specific details on implementing these
recommendations can be found at the url below.

— Group of 150 and counting
Education for Human Greatness



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