“There are ways of thinking that haven’t been thought of yet.” This little bit of common sense is pinned to the bulletin board in my office and is like the North Star of education for me. If we aren’t striving to educate ourselves beyond the known world of accepted ideas, we risk never discovering our own capacity for original thought. Humane education provides the framework for those of us who believe an authentic education should include an invitation to examine the world we live in and to apply our best thinking toward solving some of its problems.
Having worked in the field of education my entire adult life here in the U.S., as well as in developing countries, I hold firm to the idea that education is the most viable form of activism on the planet, and that injustice cannot thrive in a climate of awareness and compassion. When I am talking with an M.Ed. student on the phone and we are discussing connections between issues that confront our environment, our fellow creatures, our brothers and sisters around the world, we might suddenly find ourselves feeling as if these issues are so long-standing, so prevalent and intractable, that there is nothing we can do to help. This is when I look to my bulletin board and am reminded of what I already know to be true. The solution exists. It’s just embedded in a way of thinking that hasn’t been thought of yet. Let’s keep at it.
Mary Pat Champeau is the director of graduate programs at the Institute for Humane Education and faculty at Antioch University. She holds an MA from New York University. Mary Pat has been in the field of education since 1979 when she began teaching as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, West Africa. Before becoming part of the IHE team, she worked in refugee camps in Southeast Asia and supervised American culture and language programs for the World Trade Institute in New York City. Since 2002, she has directed and taught in IHE’s graduate programs first with Cambridge College, then Valparaiso University, and now at Antioch. She has served on numerous school and non-profit boards and is a longstanding member of the humane education anti-racism working group.