Personal Thoughts on Teaching and Learning – Carl Rogers

a)     I cannot teach another person how to teach
b)     Anything taught to another is inconsequential
c)     I am only interested in learnings which significantly influence behaviour
d)     And that is only self-discovered learning
e)     Which can not be directly communicated to another
f)       I have lost interest in being a teacher
g)     The outcomes of teaching are either unimportant or hurtful (causing individuals to distrust their experience)
h)     This is troubling
i)        I am only interested in being a learner
j)        I find it very rewarding to learn, in groups, in relationships with one person, as in therapy, or by myself
k)      One of the best – but most difficult – ways for me to learn is to drop out of my defensiveness and try to understand the way in which his (or her) experience seems and feels to the other person
l)        Another way of learning is to state my own uncertainties, try to clarify my puzzlements, and thus get closer to the meaning that my experience actually seems to have
m)   I seem to have been launched on a process... in a direction which appears to be forward... a sensation of floating with a complex stream of experience.

And the implications of all of this:

          teaching            examinations              grades and credits

                   degrees                       conclusions

Joyous. And, for me, true. No surprise Rogers’ person-centred approach hasn’t taken hold in education – it’s very radical. But, true – and because true any person who sees this truth will surely also work towards it...

(in Kirschenbaum, H. and V. L. Henderson (1989). The Carl Rogers Reader, Houghton Mifflin Boston) - and also an online version that I just found here


  1. Very interesting. but...this pretty much calls for the radical change of structures and procedures. How would you go about it? Would you organise HE to be a series of loosely guided discussions on a given topic? Unfortunately they way education functions, with measurement of achievement and, finally, the award of degrees and other certificates, this doesn't work. What next?

  2. Thanks Blackbeard - and I agree with you. However if we see something wrong and then choose to look away, are we being responsible (educators)? From this standpoint, 'what next' is take the system to task at every opportunity - I reckon it's built on pretty shaky foundations anyway! So, challenge conformity to authority, challenge authority, offer an alternative view just to show that an alternative is possible... Here's a really nice summary of the two metaphors of organisation as machine vs brain - a good way in to this project of person-centred (re)education ;)


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