Zoe Weil is president of The International Institute for Humane Education and the author of several books on humane education. In her book, she explains “humane” as “having what are considered the best qualities of human beings.” In response to the expected question “And what are those qualities?,” she quotes Lao Tzu:
The best, like water,
Benefit all and do not compete . . .
In their dwelling, they love the earth;
In personal relationships, they love kindness;
In their words, they love truth;
In the world, they love peace;
In personal affairs, they love what is right . . .
This really says it all: Humane education is to help children at various ages (and adults) grow into beings who are rooted in reverence, respect, and responsibility—the author’s “three R’s.” This is a book full of practical wisdom, tested in the immediacy of an often overly challenging school environment and also at home.
he numerous anecdotes found peppered throughout the book make Weil’s discussions, which are refreshingly simple and clear in themselves, even more tangibile and accessible. Basing herself on Gandhi’s comment “My life is my message,” she has succeeded in devising a well-constructed questionnaire for self-inquiry, which is included in her book. It is primarily intended for parents but most certainly could serve any reader in his or her self-exploration. My wife considers this to be the most important practical book on education she has ever read, and so do I.