The Trouble with Behaviourism - How a humanist teacher keeps his students motivated
Humanism would concentrate upon the development of the child's self-concept. If the child feels good about him or herself then that is a positive start. Feeling good about oneself would involve an understanding of ones' strengths and weaknesses, and a belief in one's ability to improve. Learning is not an end in itself; It is the means to progress towards the pinnacle of self-development, which Maslow terms 'Self-actualisation'. A child learns because he or she is inwardly driven, and derives his or her reward from the sense of achievement that having learned something affords. This would differ from the behaviourist view that would expect extrinsic rewards to be more effective. Extrinsic rewards are rewards from the outside world, e.g. praise, money, gold stars, etc. Intrinsic rewards are rewards from within oneself, rather like a satisfaction of a need. This accords with the humanistic approach, where education is really about creating a need within the child, or instilling within the child self-motivation. Behaviourism is about rewards from others. Humanism is about rewarding yourself!
Much of a humanist teacher's effort would be put into developing a child's self-esteem. It would be important for children to feel good about themselves (high self-esteem), and to feel that they can set and achieve appropriate goals (high self-efficacy). This form of education is known as child-centred, and is typified by the child taking responsibility for their education and owning their learning. The behaviourists might advocate positive reinforcement such as praise, and punishment in the form of negative criticism. Both praise and blame are rejected by the humanists. Children can become addicted to praise, and put much effort into receiving praise from their teachers. Such children will often work for the praise, and not work if their efforts go unnoticed. This is so unlike an interested adult surfing through the internet, who derives satisfaction from learning something new, even though nobody is around to witness this acquisition of knowledge. If education is preparing the child for adult life, it would seem the humanist approach is the correct one.
The humanist teacher is a facilitator, not a disseminator, of knowledge. Participatory and discovery methods would be favoured instead of traditional didacticism (i.e. learn parrot-fashion every thing the teacher says). As well as the child's academic needs the humanistic teacher is concerned with the child's affective (or emotional) needs. Feeling and thinking are very much interlinked. Feeling positive about oneself facilitates learning.
Humanistic - The self or the individual is important. Not the similarities between humans as much as the individuality of humans.
Client-centred therapy - clients define the problems, propose
a solution and implement it. (opposite is Directive therapy)
Phenomenology - the world as perceived by the individual rather than as it really is.
Humanism - Literature, Philosophy, Psychology - historically - concerned with human worth, individuality, humanity, freedom for the individual to determine personal actions. Development of human potential is highly valued; the attainment of material goals is de-emphasised.
Self-actualisation - the end toward which all humans strive.
Skinner - perfect society described in his novel, Walden II,
1948 - positive reinforcement,
Trying to create a better society by openly controlling its inhabitants with positive reinforcement.
Rogers believes that Skinner assumes that social control will be in the better interests of society, but doubts that this would really happen.
Skinner - the most effective practices would survive.
Rogers - society should self-actualise.
social personal development.
De-emphasise rigorous, performance-oriented, test-dominated approaches. Provide opportunity for success.
Respects students feelings and aspirations. Right to self-determination.
The humanistic approach is a broad term that encompasses three main approaches (Kirschenbaum 1975):
Humanism - third force in Psychology
Current and future welfare of students
worth and rights of the individuals
Openness, honesty, selflessness, altruism.
Traditional approach -
Can be humanistic teacher in a traditional teacher classroom.
Humanistic approaches use group processes.
Students can express their feelings more openly, discover and
clarify their feelings. Explore interpersonal relationships
Articulate personal values. Games - including role-playing.
Problems - Novice teacher will lack specific guidelines.
Compelled to attend
Little choice in the content of a curriculum, the value of which may not be apparent.
Share teachers time and other resources with other students. Classmates differ from one another in ability and experience. Have to put up with an instructional tempo that is often either too fast or too slow. Set of rules - not talking, moving around, going to the toilet. [Not user-friendly!] no doubt that traditional schools favour some.
Goals - individual growth, critical
thinking, self-reliance, co- operation, commitment to lifelong
Most important person - student not teacher.
Not curriculum bound
Not age/grade locked.
Student-centred - intensive, but relaxed teacher/pupil contact.
Needs low teacher/pupil ratio.
Almost no control or competition
Difficult to draw the line between chaos and order, rebelliousness and expression of rights.
Productive and unproductive time.
Students tend to have better self-concepts and are more creative and co- operative, but academic achievements are lacking.
Allow student to use a learning style that
e.g. working on soft carpet or around a table
highly structured lessons, peer teaching, computer-assisted instruction, self-learning.
Subjects rotated, to be taught at different times of the day.
Dunn and Griggs (1988) - 10 learning
styles-driven schools visited, learners performed well on a
variety of measures of academic performance.
Many passed subjects, previously failed. Most loved school.
Difficult to measure (Snow and Swanson, 1992) - current list of learning styles and instruments used to measure them are unorganised, lengthy, include a large range of habits, personality characteristics and abilities.
Students are often in competition with
each other or have to work individually towards achieving their
Co-operative Learning not only combines cognitive and affective aspects of learning, as well as emphasising participation and active engagement, But also stresses academic achievement and clearly defined curricular goals.
Johnson et al (1984) outlines 4 components of co-operative learning:
4 to 6 students have a worksheet they must
learn or complete together.
encouraged to help each other.
Praise for co-operating and finishing the assignment.
No competition among groups.
As above, except:
Each team has high and low ability students,
different ethnic backgrounds, children of both sexes.
New material presented in class in traditional manner. Following this groups given material to study and worksheets to complete.
can work individually or together
Encouraged to help each other. At end of that week's material, students answer quizzes individually.
Team scores are calculated.
team that has improved the most is given the most recognition.
Slavin (1983) 'Students see learning activities as social instead of isolated, fun instead of boring, under their own control instead of the teacher's'
Help each other more, do not make fun of those with learning difficulties.
Same as above, but tournaments at end.
Regrouped into individual competitors, from different groups of a similar ability. In threes, they take turns to draw cards, and ask the question printed upon it. Can challenge the answers. They keep the card if correct. At end, points are added up and credited to the pupil's original (learning) group.
Each member gets separate parts of the
whole. Must teach what they have learned to other members of the
Students select topic - then divided into
sub-topics, based on student's interests. Groups are formed to
investigate each sub-topic.
Each group formulates a plan and assigns responsibilities. members can work individually or with others. At end group members meet to share information. They then decide how to present this information to the rest of the class.
Teachers help with academic and social skills.
Students taught specific procedures in
questioning, clarifying, summarising and predicting. They then
have to teach some of the material to their teacher. (Palinsar
and Brown, 1984)
1 Unlike 'Learning styles' approach,
requires no major restructuring of the school day.
2 Fosters co-operation among students of different abilities, ethnic backgrounds, ages and sexes.
Used in conjunction with traditional
lessons for 60 to 90 minutes a day. Others recommend 70% of class
time to be used in this way. 20% individualistic. 10% competitive.
(Johnson and Johnson, 1975).
Careful preparation of materials,
worksheets, questions, resource materials, etc.
Johnson et al (1981) 122 studies analysed.
1 Better achievement at all grades and for all subjects, because group discussion and co-operation promote discovery.
Develop higher-quality cognitive strategies.
Increases motivation, comprehension (by having the student teach) enrich learning by having students of different abilities and experiences. Promotes highly positive relationships among group members.
Israeli and Arab students not only performed better academically, but also displayed fewer signs of ethnic tension in their language (Sharan & Shachar, 1988).
Bossert (1988) agrees but says the effect could be because lessons are more highly structured and systematic, rather than effect due to peer interaction.
Some students waste time talking about
irrelevant matters. Some members dominate and others are ignored.
1 Incentive to co-operate
2 Individual accountability
Vygotsky (1978) theory says learning is highly dependent on
1 Social interaction
Humanistic teachers aim for good things,
but these are not clearly defined. Also not easily measured.
Humanistic approaches are highly dependent upon the capabilities of the teacher.
Overall, Open schools do not deliver academic performance, but non- graded schools (no age/grade placement and no graded report cards), have positive effects on achievement (Gutierrez & Slavin, 1992).
Present structured curriculum in ungraded, no fail environment.
Criticisms can not be directed at learning styles-oriented schools and co-operative learning. many learning styles schools use group methods which involve co-operative learning.