Part 2: The Right to Know Your Rights

How You Teach Is What You Teach


No matter what the setting – whether a classroom, a senior citizens’ center, or a religious organization – common principles inform the methods used to teach human rights. These principles should be communicated through every aspect of good human rights education:

  • Provide OPEN-MINDED EXAMINATION of human rights concerns with opportunities for participants to arrive at positions different from those of the facilitator.
  • Include an INTERNATIONAL/GLOBAL DIMENSION to the human rights theme being examined, (e.g. how it manifests itself both at home and abroad).
  • Avoid too much focus on human rights abuses. Emphasize human rights as a POSITIVE VALUE SYSTEM and a standard to which everyone is entitled.
  • Affirm the belief that the INDIVIDUAL can make a difference and provide examples of individuals who have done so.
  • Include an ACTION DIMENSION that provides participants with opportunities to act on their beliefs and understanding. These actions should address problems both at home and elsewhere in the world.
  • Link every topic or issue to relevant articles of the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS. Make this connection explicit rather than implicit or assumed.
  • Be responsive to concerns related to CULTURAL DIVERSITY. Activities should reflect a variety of perspectives (e.g., race, gender, religion, cultural/national traditions).
  • Be concerned with both CONTENT AND LEARNING PROCESS. It is difficult to engage participants in examining issues related to rights and justice if the learning environment does not demonstrate respect for justice and human dignity.
  • Keep lecturing to a minimum. Instead use PARTICIPATORY METHODS for learning such as role plays, discussion, debates, mock trials, games, and simulations.
  • Connect people’s LIVED EXPERIENCE directly to abstract concepts and legal documents.

      Source: Nancy Flowers and David Shiman, Human Rights Educators’ Network, Amnesty International USA, with additions from Edward O-Brien, Street Law, Inc.



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  Human Rights Fundamentals The Right to Know Your Rights Activities Taking Action for Human Rights Appendices