To teach about and for human rights requires more than knowledge about human rights and experience in facilitating learning. The human rights educator must have a deeply felt commitment to human rights and a belief in their necessity for building a just and democratic society.
The human rights educator must also accept substantial personal challenges:
1. The challenge to learn - The human rights educator must have the humility to give up the old paradigm of school, where an "expert," the teacher, conveys information to those who know next to nothing, the pupils. Instead the educator must become a learner in community with other learners, all of whom serve as resources for each other. Instead of "having all the answers," the human rights educator has the skill to shape the learning environment so that people can articulate their own questions, critique their own experience, search for their own answers, and learn from each other. A human rights educator who isn't learning isn't educating.
2. The challenge of the affective Human rights are not just academic subjects. Human rights involve feelings, values, and opinions, which must be given at least equal importance if transformative learning is to take place. Human rights educators need the courage to resist the safe, purely cognitive approach and honor and engage feeling responses in themselves and others. Acknowledging the non-rational and affective also means accepting that unpredictable and sometimes negative and disruptive feelings may be evoked. If the educator is convinced that such affective responses are essential to learning, the learning community will be able to accept and accommodate them as part of the process.
3. The challenge of self-examination Everyone carries some discriminatory thoughts, feelings, and attitudes, whether based on race, class, gender, ability, sexual orientation, or some other distinction such as political or ideological convictions. A human rights educator accepts the responsibility of honest, critical self-examination, not denying that she or he holds prejudices, but striving to recognize them and thus to change them. Otherwise a genuine learning community where participants are engaged in dialogue between equals is impossible. Furthermore, denial of personal biases can lead to a false dichotomy, "us against them," that also denies our common humanity and creates adversarial relationships.
4. The challenge of example Human rights express a value system. If an educator's own behavior does not reflect these values, nothing he or she says will be credible.
No individual can meet these demanding standards all the time! Yet, like all principles, they represent the ideals toward which human rights educators are committed to strive.