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Learning to be

Why do exam results say so little about learners’ subsequent successes? Because exam results only provide a reflection of a tiny range of skills such as a person’s knowledge of a given system, their understanding of the teacher and the evaluation criteria that he or she uses, as well as their ability to memorise course material in the short term. Of course, good results do reflect intelligence, but they are no guarantee that a pupil will go on to lead a successful life, because success primarily depends on personality and approach. How have we reached a situation in which learners’ core competence – ‘being’ – has either been left out of most curricula entirely or hidden deeply within the material in the hope that it will be developed indirectly?

‘Being’ means taking on responsibility for our own lives. It means knowing ourselves; it involves feelings, discovery and development. It means living in harmony with ourselves, the environment and other people. It means being able to deal with our emotions. It also requires addressing ‘being’ and ‘meaning’. Increasing numbers of educational institutions have begun to understand that these aspects have to be addressed if their learners are to go on to lead successful lives.

 

Empathy and happyness as school subjects

This understanding is increasingly leading issues such as empathy, intuition and happiness to find their way onto school timetables. Educational institutions are increasingly providing their learners with possibilities to understand themselves by trying things out in different contexts, and more and more emphasis is being placed on self-reflective competencies. This helps learners to understand that their personality and emotional skills play just as an important role as the knowledge that they gain in school. Moreover, it also means that personality development becomes a specific learning goal; individual coaching and biography work, therefore, are essential in this respect.

This approach requires space and time so that learners can try things out, and think and speak about their experiences. Alongside space for professional development, this is leading many educational institutions to include space for personal development, to deal with ‘me’ and to understand what it means to be human. Primarily, this includes a recognition that learning should always form a triad out of the head (cognitive skills), the hand (action, crafts, skills) and the heart (being, emotions).

CASES:

The active development of a person’s personality and life are not merely viewed as side-effects of education, but are explicitly included within learning content.

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