The Four Pillars of Education

The Four Pillars of Education form the basis for the UNESCO-report Learning: The Treasure Within. They cannot be defined separately; they form an integrated whole, complementing and strengthening each other. Education is, after all, a total experience.

Learning to know

Learning to know lays the foundations of learning throughout life. This pillar refers to the basic knowledge that we need to be able to understand our environment and to live in dignity. It is also about arousing curiosity, allowing us to experience the pleasures of research and discovery. It faces us with the challenge of combining a sufficiently broad education with the in-depth investigation of selected subjects. Naturally, learning to know presupposes that we develop the powers of concentration, memory, and thought. In short, that we learn to learn.

Learning to do

Learning to do. Learning to do refers to the acquisition of practical skills, but also to an aptitude for teamwork and initiative, and a readiness to take risks. As such, this pillar is about the competence of putting what we have learned into practice so as to act creatively on our environment. A variety of situations, often unforeseeable, is bound to arise. When this happens, learning to do enables us to turn our knowledge into effective innovations.

Learning to live together

Learning to live together is the pillar UNESCO emphasizes more than any other. It refers first of all to developing an understanding of others through dialogue—leading to empathy, respect, and appreciation. Yet if we are to understand others, we must first know ourselves. Learning to live together is thus also about recognizing our growing interdependence, about experiencing shared purposes, and about implementing common projects and a joint future. Only then will it be possible to manage inevitable conflicts in a peaceful way.

Learning to be

Learning to be is founded on the fundamental principle that education needs to contribute to the all-round development of each individual. This pillar deals with the broadening of care for each aspect of the personality. It deals with giving us the freedom of thought, feeling, and imagination that we need to act more independently, with more insight, more critically, and more responsibly. The end of education is to discover and open the talents hidden like a treasure within every person.

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