NHE 104: Philosophy of Neohumanist Education (2021)

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Neohumanism is a comprehensive philosophy and social outlook first expounded by Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar that redefines Humanism and introduces new concepts intended to improve both individual and collective welfare. Whereas Humanism was designed to increase the well-being and rights of humans, Neohumanism extends this sentiment to all created beings, defined as “universalism.” While grounded in spiritual practice and oriented towards the realization of unity between the individual human and Supreme consciousness, Neohumanism rejects all dogma and irrational beliefs, promoting instead the “liberation of intellect” (the title of Sarkar’s 1982 text on the subject). It has a very practical dimension that promotes love for all living beings, a deep appreciation for the ecology of our planet, sustainable living, and a just social and economic society. 


The philosophy of Neohumanism provides a foundation for the education of young people and adults that aims to support their holistic development and their quest for freedom from all limitations. In this context, learning in all subjects recognizes the worth and dignity of every human, the cultivation of universal love for all species, and a profound and applied sense of ethics. Neohumanist education at all levels fosters the balanced development of rationality and inner wisdom, valuing both science and modern knowledge as well as contemplative practices. Aside from these foundational principles, Neohumanist education is a dynamic movement that will change over time, place, and circumstances.  It relies on current research and supports culturally relevant pedagogical imagination and innovation.

Course Description

Applied to education, the philosophy of Neohumanism offers a theoretical framework for understanding what it means to be human, the aims and purposes of education, how knowledge is constructed, how people learn, what should be taught, what constitutes a “good life,” and how school and society are connected. This course will introduce the basic categories of educational philosophy and participants will learn about the major schools of thought that have guided Western (Humanist) education since the Enlightenment. With these foundational concepts in place, the class will collaboratively explore the contours of a Neohumanist philosophy of education, which will serve as the foundation for subsequent learning in the program about the practical aspects of teaching and learning.

Syllabus Table of Contents

  • Basic course information
  • Course objectives
  • Academic skills
  • Participant expectations
  • Instructor Expectations
  • Assessment
  • Course competencies
  • Portfolio development
  • Weekly calendar

Course information

Professor: Dr. Kathleen Kesson https://oldnhca.gurukul.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Letter.pdf

Contact information: Preferred: kkesson@gurukul.edu

Course dates: Tuesdays (September 7th 14th 21st 28th / October 5th 12th 19th 26th)

Course time: 13.00-14.30 UTC (9:00AM-10:30AM EDT/EST)

Course objectives

Students will:

  • Understand the basic categories of educational philosophical thought (cosmology and metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics)
  • Articulate the differences between the major schools of thought in regards to these categories
  • Formulate what Neohumanist education draws upon from the major schools of thought, and what new it has to offer to the field
  • Demonstrate the ability to convey NHE philosophy in language suitable to different purposes (letters to parents, handbooks, grant proposals, etc.)

Academic skills

  • Cognitive skills of reasoning and critical thinking will be emphasized.  We will practice differentiating between fact, opinion, and logical thinking, and explore the role of intuition in constructing knowledge.
  • Close reading and the analysis of texts is fundamental, so strong comprehension in English is important.
  • Oral academic discourse conventions will be exercised: careful listening, building, shaping, challenging ideas, expanding/explaining vocabulary, responsive feedback, scaffolding for complexity, making sure everyone has equal airtime, etc.
  • We will often use the double-entry journal format (this will be explained in more detail) in which you select a passage from an assigned text, reflect on its meaning, and share your perspectives with other participants, either online or in discussion, or both.
  • Writing quality matters – but will not be assessed in online conversations or informal reflections. Your culminating project should represent your best writing; if English is not your primary language, please let me know what kind of feedback would be most helpful to you.

Participant Expectations

  • Class will meet for eight 1½ hour sessions (12 contact hours). You are expected to attend every session.
  • You will be expected to do 2 ½ hours a week of work outside of class (reading, reflective writing, posting to online discussions, assignments).
  • You will be expected to turn in all assignments on the due date and post online reflections and responses in a timely way.
  • Participants will observe all co-created ground rules for both verbal and written discussion.

Instructor Expectations

  • I will communicate clearly, explain concepts thoroughly and answer all questions.
  • I will respond to your written work in a timely way; most often before the next class.
  • I will give you honest and fair feedback about your work.
  • I will respond promptly (within 24 hours) to email.


A well-rounded program of study addresses the multi-dimensional nature of the student – specifically their strengths in knowing, doing, and being. These categories are addressed below:

  • Knowing is about concept formation, understanding the Big Ideas in the topic of study.
  • Doing refers to the ability to apply what has been learned in relevant activity.
  • Being addresses the arena of teacher “dispositions” – values, interpersonal qualities, commitments, personal growth.

The competencies we will be working on in this course that relate to the three categories are:

Knowing: Student will demonstrate their content understanding by responding clearly and thoughtfully to readings, debates, and discussions on the fine points of Neohumanist philosophy of education, both orally and in writing.

Doing: Student will demonstrate applied understanding of the main categories of Neohumanist philosophy of education in a self-chosen creative project.

Being: Student can demonstrate how they embody the principles of Neohumanist Educational Philosophy in their own lives.

I will provide narrative, informal feedback throughout the course on your work. At the conclusion of the course, I will write a brief narrative assessment, addressing knowing, doing, and being, highlighting any special strengths, skills or capacities that have been developed over the course of study and any suggested areas of growth to continue to focus on. Be sure to maintain these evaluations in a file along with selections of your work. At the completion of the program, these materials will be compiled in a professional portfolio for your use.

Zoom Meeting Login

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Class Section / UTC Time

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Kathleen Kesson

1A / 1PM UTC Tuesday

Kathleen Kesson

1B / 11PM UTC Tuesday



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