Carl Rogers and Contracts

"Contracts provide a sort of transitional experience between complete freedom to learn... but that is within the limits of some institutional demand or course requirement" (Rogers, 1983, p.149)
In his book Freedom to Learn*, Rogers has a chapter called Methods of Building Freedom, which offers "a few of the approaches, methods, techniques that have been successfully used by teachers who are endeavoring to give a freedom to learn" (all references here: Rogers 1983) (p.147). The chapter looks briefly at 'using real problems' and at 'providing resources' (including people), then turns to a discussion of the 'Use of Contracts', which he describes as "One open-ended device that helps to give both security and responsibility within an atmosphere of freedom" (p.149). Importantly, Rogers also considers the facilitator: "[the use of contracts] also helps to assuage the uncertainties and insecurities the facilitator may be experiencing" (p.149). Rogers goes on to give a specific example of a contract, which is illuminating, and also offers some 'elements of a contract' - however, I believe that so much good, evidence-based work has been done on the use of contracts in education since Rogers' time, that it is as well simply to take Rogers' frameworking of contracts in the person-centred approach, as summarised here. So, there is more work to do in terms of developing specific contracts - one of which is naming: I think I might prefer 'Learner Agreements' or even 'Learning Agreements' rather than the quite business-oriented/legalistic 'contract'... watch this space!

* Rogers, C. and J. Allender (1983). Freedom to Learn for the 80's, Charles E. Merrill Columbus, OH.

Postscript: Hammond and Collins also draw on Rogers with a header quotation in their chapter on 'Drafting Learning Agreements - they feel like friends!