How you teach is what you teach...

Human rights education is more than just subject matter, it’s a way of thinking about the world. It’s about putting the underlying principles of human rights to work — fairness, respect for human dignity and difference, tolerance, and equality. For teachers, this means demonstrating a personal commitment to human rights values through their teaching methods, being able to present lessons that go beyond content, and helping students put their ideas into practice. Students will pick up quickly on whether or not what you do matches what you are teaching. If you talk about participation and respect but do not allow anyone else to contribute, the message will not go very far.  To practice what you preach, human rights education should be:

  • Learner-centered, participatory, and dialogical.
  • Learner-designed by all participants and facilitators.
  • Action-oriented, not just knowledge acquisition.
  • Relevant and practical to the lives of the participants.
  • Integrated holistically into all fields of study and action.
  • Flexible, interactive, and tailored to the target audience.
  • About learning life skills and preparing for active citizenship.
  • Accessible to everyone.

HRE developmental framework

Human Rights Education seeks to improve a student’s understanding, attitude and behavior toward human rights (as detailed under "What is Human Rights Education?").  How to effectively teach these concepts however is dependent on age and grade level. In pre-kindergarten through Grade 3, human rights learning focuses on respect for self, parents, teachers, and others. In Grades 4–6 the focus moves to social responsibility, citizenship, distinguishing wants and needs from rights. For Grades 7 and 8, the focus shifts to introducing and enhancing specific human rights. At the high school level, Grades 9–12, the focus expands to include human rights as universal standards, integration of human rights into personal awareness, and behavior.  This Developmental Framework for Human Rights Education provides further detail in terms of the goals, concepts, practices, and standards for different grade levels.

 HRE methodologies

There are many different ways of teaching and learning about human rights. How you approach the topic will depend on the content, your students' knowledge and motivation around human rights issues, and your own understanding and comfort level. Having a range of methodologies to choose from will enhance the experience for both you and your students. Click here for some basic HRE teaching methods that can be adapted to help foster human rights awareness and action.