In Tomorrow’s Children: A Blueprint for Partnership Education in the 21st Century, Riane Eisler describes three core elements of partnership education: process (how we learn and teach), content (what we learn and teach), and structure (where we learn and teach).
Process, Content, and Structure
Partnership education process is how we teach and learn. Partnership schools and programs integrate new and time-tested approaches that engage children in the joy of lifelong learning.
- Children are seen as partners in the learning process
- Adults model facilitation rather than control
- Every child’s unique abilities are fostered
- Children are treated with empathy and caring
- Diverse learning styles are honored
- Children's voices are heard and their ideas are respected
- Emotional needs are understood and addressed
- Cooperative learning and individual responsibility are combined
- Learning is a reciprocal activity between teacher and child
- Students learn through experiential opportunities
- Young people think for themselves and trust their observations and experiences
- Students develop and use skills of caring and ethical behaviors
Partnership content is what we teach and learn — the educational curriculum. Partnership education is not about discarding what many professionals deem important for children to know and do, or about throwing out state standards. What is needed is an integrated framework that combines basic academic content with the information and skills students need for a sustainable, equitable, and peaceful future. Content in partnership education includes standard subjects such as math, reading, writing, science, social studies, art, physical education, music, and computer literacy. Woven into the entire learning tapestry are materials that reflect:
- Gender balance
- Environmental consciousness
- Partnership values and ethical standards
- Partnership literacies and competencies, including emotional literacy, media literacy, systems competence, nonviolent conflict resolution, and responsible leadership
- The partnership-dominator continuum as an analytical lens
- The arts and music
- Partnership language
- Self-regulation and life-planning
- A meaningful story of evolution
- A more accurate and hopeful view of what being human means
Partnership education structure is about where we teach and learn — the learning environment. It consists of two parts:
- the architectural or physical structure (the spatial environment)
- the organizational structure (the infrastructure)
A partnership spatial environment is inviting and welcomes and celebrates each individual. When visiting a school/program with a partnership spatial environment, one would expect to see:
- Safe spaces with architectural dangers (e.g., dark stairwells) modified or removed
- Full accessibility with architectural barriers removed
- Playgrounds that facilitate cooperation
- Accessible playground equipment
- Welcoming, colorful hallways and wall space that celebrate learning and every person
The organization of a school or other learning environment models partnership in policy, development, and implementation. It facilitates inclusiveness in decision-making and learning together. One would expect to see:
- Hierarchies of actualization where accountability flows in every direction, rather than hierarchies of control and domination where accountability only flows from the bottom up
- Governance that allows for shared decision-making between administration, staff, and students
- Collaborative planning, collegial dialogue, and continuous learning (such as professional staff development)
- Teachers mentoring each other
- Resource allocations that maximize support for learning
- Inclusion of parents and other community members as volunteers
Tomorrow’s Children: A Blueprint for Partnership Education in the 21st Century (2000) by Riane Eisler
Sample Resources for College Classes
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