THE FOUR PILLARS OF EDUCATION

The Four Pillars of Education form the basis for the UNESCO-report Learning: The Treasure Within. They cannot be defined separately; they form an integrated whole, complementing and strengthening each other. Education is, after all, a total experience.

LEARNING TO KNOW

Learning to know lays the foundations of learning throughout life. This pillar refers to the basic knowledge that we need to be able to understand our environment and to live in dignity. It is also about arousing curiosity, allowing us to experience the pleasures of research and discovery. It faces us with the challenge of combining a sufficiently broad education with the in-depth investigation of selected subjects. Naturally, learning to know presupposes that we develop the powers of concentration, memory, and thought. In short, that we learn to learn.

LEARNING TO DO

Learning to do. Learning to do refers to the acquisition of practical skills, but also to an aptitude for teamwork and initiative, and a readiness to take risks. As such, this pillar is about the competence of putting what we have learned into practice so as to act creatively on our environment. A variety of situations, often unforeseeable, is bound to arise. When this happens, learning to do enables us to turn our knowledge into effective innovations.

LEARNING TO LIVE TOGETHER

Learning to live together is the pillar UNESCO emphasizes more than any other. It refers first of all to developing an understanding of others through dialogue leading to empathy, respect, and appreciation. Yet if we are to understand others, we must first know ourselves. Learning to live together is thus also about recognizing our growing interdependence, about experiencing shared purposes, and about implementing common projects and a joint future. Only then will it be possible to manage inevitable conflicts in a peaceful way.

LEARNING TO BE

Learning to be is founded on the fundamental principle that education needs to contribute to the all-round development of each individual. This pillar deals with the broadening of care for each aspect of the personality. It deals with giving us the freedom of thought, feeling, and imagination that we need to act more independently, with more insight, more critically, and more responsibly. The end of education is to discover and open the talents hidden like a treasure within every person.

 

Child-Centered is not...

  • putting out the new activity idea you learned at a conference this weekend then turning around to go clean a cabinet...
  • letting children have the run of the home or classroom...
  • a reenactment of the Lord of the Flies...
  • letting children do "whatever they want"...
  • children running around naked with paint flying through the air...
  • an excuse to be disengaged from the children...
  • something that happens over-night...
  • the elimination of curriculum, rules, boundaries and structure...
  • CHAOS!

Child-Centered is...

  • linking concepts to experiences...
  • controlling the environment, not the little people in it...
  • making a commitment to understanding the research that impacts our profession...
  • believing there is NOT a one-size fits all formula that can be applied to each child, each time, in each situation...
  • engaging and connecting with the children, even at the expense of the lesson plan...
  • the hardest way to be... why? It takes passion, dedication and commitment on the part of ALL grown-ups involved!

Stress: Cause and Effect

A Research-Based Discussion by Dr. Carol Mikulka

Stress: Learning, or the ability to absorb and retain information, and stress are directly linked in a very profound way. A stressful school environment --; especially middle and high school --; can alter the course of education permanently. Chronic stress results in a cascading chain of reactions that influence physiological events in a person. The culmination of the effects of stress on the body and the mind may render the individual incapable of learning. The adverse effect of stress on brain functioning, especially memory, has been proven repeatedly. Sustained states of stress can damage the Limbic system, a part of the brain critical to learning and memory. Essentially the student's mind "goes blank." Stress results in varying degrees of and states of perceived fear which can lead to the fight or flight response. A state of arousal and readiness to learn is very different from the physiological state that arises from the stress response. The anxiety and vigilant state created by stress interferes with short and long term memory. In academic and social environments perceived to be threatening, overwhelming, rigid, and controlling, a student will undoubtedly shut down. We know that the ability to learn and retain information is a complicated process mediated by a multitude of factors. The correlation between academic success and emotional safety is directly proportional. One of the many consequences of daily exposure to stress is the suppression of the immune system. Other physical symptoms include headaches and stomachaches. Memory retention is compromised when your focus is diverted from learning to surviving.

Stress causes anxiety, from mild to severe, and can even result in school anxiety or phobia. Stress affects your judgment and self-esteem by eliciting feelings of helplessness and insecurity about the future. In essence, chronic stress can negatively affect one’s physical and emotional health and impair cognitive abilities.

Social influence and peer pressure: Adolescents typically have a heightened concern for status and can be exquisitely sensitive to rejection. A yearning to be visible, to be accepted, and to belong are desires that all adolescents share. Where cliques and labels exist, the vast majority of students will undoubtedly feel left out, lonely, and isolated. Ridicule, taunting, teasing, and bullying are more extreme examples of negative peer pressure. Being repeatedly ostracized and left out can result in irreparable damage to an adolescent's identity and self esteem. Students will do almost anything to penetrate a group, motivated by the drive to be accepted. These students engage in risky behavior and conform to values that may not be their own. Any type of coercive behavior by either adults or peers can be categorized as a form of bullying. Research has shown a link between bullying and low academic performance. Difficulty adjusting and fitting in socially goes hand in hand with academic under-performance. Recurrent feelings of victimization and loneliness can lead to anxiety, depression, and suicide. Bullying is not a part of normal growth and development. Bullies are significantly more likely to exhibit antisocial behavior later in life. The damaging effects of negative peer pressure, bullying, lack of empathy, and disrespect have far reaching consequences to our youth and to society as a whole.

Motivation: Finding a simple definition for motivation is almost impossible. Motivation is derived form the word motion, and literally means something that moves a person and could be considered to be a type of energy or momentum. Motivation has been a widely studied phenomenon and has been the topic of countless research papers in the field of education and psychology. There does not appear to be one agreed upon or acceptable definition across the disciplines. For the purpose of this discussion, I chose "striving for achievement." Motivation is influenced by innumerable factors. Most often, factors influencing motivation can be classified as intrinsic or extrinsic. Extrinsic motivators are based on reinforcement, either positive or negative. An example of a positive reinforcement is a reward, whereas a negative example would be a consequence or a punishment. Intrinsic motivation is the desire to engage in an activity for its own sake, without the influence of external motivators. Several studies have shown that when you attach a natural or pleasurable activity to a reward, motivation diminishes. Once a reward is attached to an activity, you see the act as work and no longer interesting or fun. It has also been shown that when people are given more extrinsic motivation than necessary, intrinsic motivation declines. Motivated behaviors are goal-directed; highly motivated people persist or alter behavior until their goal is reached. A student's perception of his or her competence, belief in the ability to perform a task, and the value of the task clearly affects motivation and drive to succeed. Self-regulated learning, self-efficacy, and control over the assignment also have been shown to increase motivation and improve cognitive engagement and performance in the classroom.

At WCS we frequently review research-based educational practices and adjust our methodology so that in the truest sense we are a best-of-practice school. Our research-driven policies are developed to ensure the student remains at the center of the educational process -- always engaged in active and progressive learning.


Excerpted from "THE SCHOOLS OUR CHILDREN DESERVE" *

* "THE SCHOOLS OUR CHILDREN DESERVE" © by Alfie Kohn 1999
Published by Houghton Mifflin - ISBN 0-395-94039-7 / ISBN 0-618-08345-6