Education Needs a Humanistic Approach 

The context of learning is changing. There is a lively public debate on the foundational principles for education. Rethinking education affect the organization of learning. This includes the recognition, validation and assessment of learning in a plural and interconnected world.

rethinking education

The policy focus is mostly one of socio-economic development. This can be seen as narrow and it is part of the global discourse. Rethinking education argues that there is a need to go beyond the strictly utilitarian vision and the human capital approach. It argues for an integrated approach to education that gives equal importance to the economic, social, cultural and civic dimensions of learning. This is reflected in the four pillars of learning to know, to do, to be and to live together (Delors et al., 1996). The integrated approach is fundamentally under threat in the current system, particularly; learning to be and to live together.

humanistic principles

A humanistic approach to education and development is based on the foundation of an integrated approach to knowledge, learning and development. Some core principles are important: respect for life and human dignity; equal rights and social justice; respect for cultural diversity, as well as a sense of shared responsibility and a commitment to international solidarity. These principles are all fundamental aspects of our common humanity. It is an approach that recognizes the diversity of knowledge systems, worldviews, and conceptions of well-being as a source of wealth. It recognizes the diversity of lived realities while reaffirming a common core of universal values. A humanistic approach implies a central concern for sustainable human and social development, in which the fundamental purpose of education should be to sustain and enhance the dignity, capacity and welfare of the human person in relation to others and to nature.
This implies inclusive policy-making, as well as transparency and accountability in the provision of meaningful learning opportunities for all.

humanistic education

importance of teachers

Further awareness and recognizing the importance of non-formal and less institutionalized educational spaces in a lifelong learning framework, is needed. Together with a renewed recognision of the importance of the teaching profession, we can built a solid learning experience. The role of educators is critical as guides who enable learners to develop and advance through the constantly expanding maze of knowledge throughout their lives. In order to ensure this, teachers and educators need to be offered more attractive, motivating and stable living and working conditions, including salaries and career prospects.

fluid approach

The context of learning is evolving rapidly. This is partly the result of the rapid development of digital technologies that is transforming the educational landscape. It has weakened the monopoly of formal education institutions on the creation, transmission and validation of knowledge. This transformation requires a more fluid approach to learning as a continuum, in which formal education institutions interact more closely with other less formalized educational experiences throughout life.

humanistic approach

The major focus of a humanistic approach is the development of the whole student with an emphasis on emotional aspects of the student. The learning concentrates upon the development of the students self-concept. If the student feels good about him or herself then that is a positive start. Feeling good about yourself involves an understanding of your talents, strengths and weaknesses, and a belief in your ability to improve.

Learning is not an end in itself. It is the means to progress towards the pinnacle of self-development (self-actualisation). A student learns because he or she is intrinsicly driven, and derives his or her reward from the sense of achievement that having learned something affords. This differs from the behaviourist view that expect extrinsic rewards to be more effective.

Within the humanistic approach, education is about creating a need within the student, or cooperate with the student his self-motivation. Humanism is about rewarding yourself. Intrinsic rewards are rewards from within oneself, rather like a satisfaction of a need.

Gage and Berliner (1991) described 4 basic objectives:

1. Promote and develop positive self-direction and independence;

2. Develop the ability to take responsibility for what is learned;

3. Promote and develop creativity;

4. Promote and develop curiosity.

humanistic values

From a humanistic approach on education and learning students will learn best what they want and need to know. That is, when they have developed the skills of analysing what is important to them and why. Besides that they need the skills of directing their behaviour towards those wants and needs. The result is: they will learn more easily and quickly.

Knowing how to learn is more important than acquiring a lot of knowledge. In our present society where knowledge is changing rapidly, this view is shared by many educators from a cognitive perspective.

Self-evaluation is the most meaningful evaluation of students work. The emphasis here is on internal development and self-regulation. Most educators would likely agree with this emphasis, but would also advocate a need to develop a students ability to meet external expectations.

Feelings are as important as facts. Much work from the humanistic view seems to validate this point and is one area where humanistically oriented educators are making significant contributions to our knowledge base.

humanistic applications

To start with making you teaching more human(istic) the following implications can help:

– Allow the student to have a choice in the selection of tasks and activities whenever possible;

– Help students learn to set realistic and challenging goals;

– Have students participate in group work, especially cooperative learning, in order to develop social and affective skills;

– Teacher act as a facilitator for group discussions when appropriate;

– Teacher be a role model for the attitudes, beliefs and habits you wish to foster.

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