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Practical Humanism

posted Aug 7, 2017, 1:28 PM by Kristin Snell

by Rev. Lewis Pell, United Church of Christ Pastoral Minister, Yogi, Spoken Word Artist

You may have read in a recent Ridge Connections an article under the above title in which I as a lifetime youth worker presented the need in these times for education to move beyond its traditional role of teaching 'the 3 r's' to helping youth become more aware of and actively embracing their true human potential - to "maximize their humanity."  Prefaced with Einstein's hallmark quote - "WE CANNOT SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF OUR TIMES WITH THE SAME MIND THAT CAUSED THEM."  -  it proposed at all pre-college levels a transformational effort in the form of a "core curriculum" along with the traditional academics that would take primarily a practicum approach encouraging student participation, interactive activities, games/exercises to increase compassionate awareness, etc. In researching relevant curricula I was encouraged to find several websites presenting cutting-edge programs and curricula now in place in schools across the country.  In this article and several to come I will share some of these - for your interest and information as parents, youth workers teachers, counselors etc

The Leader in Me

The most exciting and widely available program now  available in around 2,000 schools both in the U.S. and upwards of 20 other countries, is "The Leader in Me" based on Franklin Covey's widely-read book "The Seven Habits."  These habits for highly effective living and leading - oneself and others - include both the very practical, like putting first things first, living from a committed pro-active approach to life, thinking win-win - and the more internal skills of dealing positively with ones emotions, learning to relate and work inter-actively, to "seek first to understand, then to be understood" - and others.  

Detailed overviews of this process - it is not a program, but a process, I was told on the phone by lady who works fulltime to help implement the 'TLM' work in schools in the Pacific northwest - is available on the web, through webcast series, workshops and symposiums throughout the year - and through the excellent 250-page book "The Leader in Me" available through the website and Amazon. The book opens with with 16 pages of very positive compelling testimonies from teachers, students, administrators and parents as to the beneficial effects of this new way of approaching education.  As one teacher put it:  "This is not one more thing, it is a better way of doing what we have been doing."  And the "better way" begins with the end in mind that "there is value in nurturing future-mindedness, hope, interpersonal skills, courage, the capacity for flow, optimism, and a realistic work ethic."  (from the book)

If this forward-looking process tweaks your desire to see education serve the whole child in ways that are truly transformative, you can check out the website, maybe read the book (and share it around), and/or contact me or Kyle Ellison, the northern California contact person for TLM now in Sacramento helping schools implement the program effectively (tel. 503-348-8805; email:  As I told Kyle I think this twin cities/Ridge area is ripe for embracing such a 'shift' in the crucially important area of of the education of our pre-college youth - especially in these challenging times.

Rev.  Lewie Pell: