From the outset, the humanist educator’s efforts must coincide with those of the student to engage in critical thinking and the quest for mutual humanization. The educator’s efforts must be imbued with a profound trust in people and their creative power. To achieve this, the humanist educator must be a partner of the students in ... relations with them -- Paulo Friere

Learning Structures

The principles of Partnership Learning are embodied in six learning structures. These structures, described below, are each instructional methods that can be woven into any training session:

Thinking Devices

Thinking Devices are stimuli (e.g., film clip, story, vignette, audio clip, work of art, song, photograph, word, or concept) that a trainer presents to a group of learners to elicit responses and prompt dialogue. Thinking Devices can be used for a variety of teaching purposes, including introducing major sections of content or surfacing and/or validating prior knowledge of participants.

Question Recipes

Question Recipes are: (a) open-ended, that is, questions that prompt responses that are detailed, and (b) nonjudgmental, that is, questions that elicit responses that are neither right nor wrong. When using Question Recipes, a facilitator draws from a list of questions that he or she uses routinely during the session to promote dialogue. Example Question Recipes are: “How do you see this working?”; “Tell me more about that...”; “What would prevent you from doing _____ ?”; and “How do you feel about _____ ?”

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning involves group learning activities that are mediated by learners. Learners are given specific roles to perform, and group members have shared goals.

Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning involves structured learning activities that simulate the instructional method or other content about which participants are learning. Thus, learners participating in Experiential Learning activities actually “liveout”; the content about which they are learning. For example, teachers who are learning about the Sentence Writing Strategy could be asked to write a few sentences and then discuss the thinking they used during their personal experience of writing complete sentences. Similarly, teachers learning about the Test-Taking Strategy might be given a test to complete and then be prompted to discuss how they felt about and strategically approached the test.

Reflection Learning

Reflection Learning involves activities that explicitly prompt participants to consider and explore how the new method, practice, or other content being learning can be applied to their personal or professional lives. An example of a Reflection Learning structure is to provide teachers with time to create Unit Organizers for content units they are planning to teach.


Stories are short (3 minutes or less) anecdotes or narratives that facilitators include in their sessions to enhance delivery of content. Stories can provide background information, examples and nonexamples, advance information, analogical anchors, personal or group contexts for learning, and so on.