What’s the story behind the name?
Humanitas is the Latin word for kindness and humane learning. It has been used throughout history to describe the characteristics of a well educated person; one who is benevolent, kind, dignified, courteous, practical, rational and committed to educating themselves to the best of their abilities in order to lead a life that is of the utmost quality (pleasurable, joyful, productive and prosperous). It describes connecting to a common universal humanity and fulfilling your potential as a human being in order to benefit civilisation as a whole.
We fell in love with the word humanitas as a way to encapsulate the spirit of our school - a place where kindness, joy and quality education intersect. A place that treats young people as humans worthy of the utmost respect and empowers them to treat others around them in the same way, a place that values them not as future citizens but citizens right now, able to make decisions, solve problems, participate in their community and be happy.
Educational Philosophy and Vision
Our vision is to create a high school that is democratic, choice-driven, high-end and joyful. Where students can participate in individual deep learning projects, community projects building connections and solving real problems in their community, and core curriculum to gain knowledge, in a variety of areas, through personally tailored and meaningful ways. Humanitas High School is a place of thoughtfulness and learning, where teachers and students work collaboratively with an attitude of mutual respect.
What is democratic education?
Humanitas High School is a democratic learning community. Democratic education is a broad concept, and there are many hundreds of democratic schools around the globe. All are connected by their belief that students can and should be involved in decisions that affect them, including curriculum and school management. This power-sharing also respects adults, especially teachers and parents, to be equally involved in these decisions. Democratic education is not a new concept - in fact its roots go back to John Dewey, the founder of inquiry-based learning, who wrote Democracy and Education in 1916. In recent years, modern learning theories such as agile learning theory, have been embraced by the democratic education movement.
One definition of democratic education that we like is “education in which young people have the freedom to organize their daily activities, and in which there is equality and democratic decision-making among young people and adults,” (2019, AERO, Directory of Democratic Education, https://www.educationrevolution.org/store/findaschool/democraticschools/)
We are connected to democratic schools across the globe through our participation as members of the Australasian Democratic Education Community (www.adec.edu.au), Asia-Pacific Democratic Education Community, International Democratic Education Community and Alternate Education Resource Organisation (www.educationrevolution.org). We also support the work the Agile Learning Centres (www.agilelearningcenters.org), utilising Agile Learning tools as part of our processes and strategies.
How can parents be involved in the school?
We believe parents are the vital first teachers of their students, and continue to be the most important partners in their learning throughout life. At Humanitas, we are committed to strong home-school partnerships, which are achieved through rigorous communication between home and school to ensure everyone (student, teacher and family) is sharing goals, ideas, challenges and strategies.
As such, it is a condition of continued enrolment at Humanitas that parents attend at least two meetings a year to discuss their child’s progress and goals. Meetings will be available in various formats to suit family needs. Additionally, parents are strongly encouraged to attend their students’ project presentations at the end of each term, as these are a vitally important celebration and connection to the work students are doing on their individual, in-depth projects.
Further, we encourage parents to be involved in the day to day life of the school where possible. If you have a special skill or passion, from woodworking to waste management, slam poetry to surfing, there will be times and spaces for parents to share these skills with our students. Parents may also act as community mentors, or help recommend other community members with skills to act as mentors for projects.
Finally, we have an open door policy, where parents are welcome to come and be in the space, as long as they are respectful of the space and the needs of the students foremost.