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What is Invitational Education?


Invitational Education is an ethical theory of professional and personal practice that influences the well-being of all who are involved in educating— students, teachers, administrators, support staff, and parents—and that intentionally seeks to create, sustain, and enhance total learning environments based on trust, respect, optimism, and care. The five assumptions of Invitational Education both focus and constrain educators to operate democratically:


  • First, believing in the ability, value, and responsibility of each person commits educators to developing ethical approaches that summon students to take ownership of their learning.

  • Second, the collaborative, cooperative nature of the teaching/ learning process is emphasized in the “doing-with” nature of inviting. This means that in some meaningful way, teachers and students are “in this together.”

  • Third, saying “the process is the product in the making” means that how one goes about doing something affects what the result will be, because the process lives on, at least in the memories of those who deliver the product.

  • Fourth, the belief in human potential assumes that everyone is using only a part of their many potentials and possibilities.

  • Fifth, the idea that every person and everything in and around schools adds to, or subtracts from, the process of being a beneficial presence in the lives of human beings means that people and environments are never neutral; they are either summoning or shunning the development of human potential.


Ideally, the factors of people, places, policies, programs, and processes should be so intentionally inviting as to create a world in which each person is cordially summoned to develop intellectually, socially, physically, psychologically, and morally.


(Purkey, Novak, Fretz, 2020, p.8)

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