Six Keys to Partnership Education
Education is a powerful tool to create more satisfying, more meaningful, less tense, less hurtful, and just plain healthier and more enjoyable ways of living. Six keys to partnership education are: Tools, Values, Structure, Science, Integration, and Inspiration. They can be useful as an introduction to partnership education and as a guideline for developing curriculum.
Partnership Education integrates gender-balance, multiculturalism, and environmentalism, as well as nonviolent conflict resolution, ethics, and caring into the educational fabric.
In our rapidly changing world, we need new tools for thinking and acting. The partnership and dominator models are tools for more clearly understanding our world as it is and how it can be if we more fully develop our personal and social potentials. The partnership-dominator continuum is an analytical lens that reveals patterns in what otherwise seems random and disconnected, helping us sort the information overload of our postmodern age. A related set of tools are partnership competencies, ranging from emotional and parenting competence to scientific, environmental, and spiritual competence. Partnership Education also offers the teaching tool of partnership process, which complements partnership content. It models partnership in action, helping to create a democratic, stimulating, and nurturing learning environment: a partnership structure where all students are valued and teachers, other staff, and students can relate in mutually respectful and caring ways.
Partnership Education provides guidelines for living on this Earth in less destructive, more peaceful, equitable, and sustainable ways. Much in our culture focuses on acquiring material possessions rather than on living rich and meaningful lives. It presents violence as not only inevitable but manly. And it often gives the false impression that our only choice is between regressing to more authoritarian and less equitable ways of living or a total lack of standards. Rather than conditioning young people to live rudderless lives or to rely on external controls and fear of punishments, Partnership Education teaches young people values such as empathy and responsibility, showing that our actions have consequences. It empowers young people to think for themselves, develop standards for ethical and moral life choices, be better citizens, create more caring families and communities, preserve our natural habitat, and live more emotionally and spiritually satisfying lives.
To prepare young people to meet the challenges of the 21st century, Partnership Education grounds learning in an understanding of social, economic, and political structures. This makes it possible for students to see that neither personal choices nor social policies occur in a vacuum - that they are largely shaped by the constraints or opportunities of these structures. It highlights how partnership or dominator structures provide incentives and disincentives for different kinds of decisions and behaviors. It shows how all aspects of our lives - from our intimate relations to our relations with our natural habitat are influenced by the degree to which social arrangements orient to either a partnership or dominator model. But it also highlights that we in turn can influence these social arrangements. It shows that social, economic, and political structures are human inventions and hence can be changed to creatively meet the challenges of the 21st century.
A core component of education today is scientific information about our universe and our place and responsibilities in it. Partnership Education explores the mysteries probed by science against the backdrop of a story that spans billions of years, from the first stars and planets to the appearance on Earth of our unique human species. It highlights new scientific findings about human evolution, such as the great human capacity for pleasure from caring behaviors and the critical importance of the early years of a child's home and cultural environment. By highlighting our interconnection with our Mother Earth, Partnership Education fosters ecological consciousness. It also shows that technological developments guided by a partnership ethos can be beneficial rather than destructive, and that at this critical junction in the history of our planet we humans must be conscious co-creators of our future - for our own sake and for that of generations still to come.
In the ever more complex, technologically interconnected, postindustrial world, young people need a new integrated approach to learning. Partnership Education offers a systemic approach that weaves together materials from different subject areas, showing how they interrelate. It integrates cognitive and experiential learning, melds the theoretical and the practical, desegregates multicultural materials, and balances information about both the female and male halves of humanity. It validates the experiences of girls and boys of varying races and backgrounds. Grounded in a clearer understanding of both ancient and modern history, it offers a larger perspective on our human adventure. It both personalizes and universalizes what is taught as important knowledge and truth, helping young people envision a more equitable and peaceful world where the wonder of humanity and the richness of nature can be truly valued.
Children need education that inspires them to be the best they can be. Much in our mass media presents a world of constant conflict, cruelty, and pain - whether in the news stories that get headlines or in the endless "entertainment" depicting violence and abuse as "fun." Partnership Education counters this false picture of what is possible and desirable for human relations. It shows that, despite massive resistance and periodic regressions, there has during the last three hundred years been movement toward partnership rather than dominator relations in families, workplaces, and governments. It highlights the inspiring stories of courageous women and men of all races and ethnic origins who have braved ridicule, censure, and violence to bring us greater freedom and equality. It shows that all of us can, through both individual and group action, through both consciousness and service, continue to strengthen this forward movement and find real meaning and purpose in our lives.
Adapted from Riane Eisler's Tomorrow's Children: A Blueprint for Partnership Education in the 21st Century