Showing posts from June, 2015

Freedom to Learn Section VII: Do We Dare? Some Reflections

“As I look back over what I have written in this book, I fall into a somewhat dreamy, reflective state. I hope you can enter this inner world of mine and enrich it with your own memories, experiences and thoughts.” This - final - chapter gives a fresh summary of the advantages of a person-centred approach in the classroom. It also points to the resistance to change that is evident in our educational system and explores some of the reasons for this. It closes with a challenge to the reader.
1.The Miracle of Childhood Rogers meditates on children all over the world before they have been exposed to school, “the activities are ceaseless, the curiosity endless … they are moving, restless, spontaneous, determined … they are learning, learning, learning – probably at a rate they will never again equal … and then their ‘education’ begins. Off they go to school.”
2.One Pathway to Education Rogers draws a picture of a small boy’s first day at school, which is the complete opposite of his exper…

Freedom to Learn Section VI: The Philosophical and Value Ramifications (part three) – the goal: the fully functioning person

This chapter is unapologetically “cast in the framework of therapy” and attempts to answer the question: “What sort of human being do we wish to grow?” This is because “the best of education would produce a person very similar to the one produced by the best of therapy.” Therefore, Rogers wishes to formulate a theoretical concept of the optimal end-point of therapy, or education, which is open to operationalization. 1.The background from which the problem is approachedRogers is very clear that his perspective is of a completely successful experience of person-centred therapy, an intensely personal and subjective person to person relationship between client and therapist. This means that the therapist feels this client to be a person of unconditional self-worth, is able fully to empathise with the client and the therapist is comfortable in entering this relationship fully. The client is comfortable in the knowledge of being accepted unconditionally and feels able to experience his feel…

The Ecchoing Green

This is the cycle of life in a day, sunrise to sunset, as the wistful old watch the young playing, full of their youthful life energy, and who will nevertheless become old in their turn as celebration of spring will turn to the darkening winter's chill, each echoing each as the years turn...

The sun does arise,
And make happy the skies.
The merry bells ring
To welcome the spring.
The skylark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around,
To the bells’ cheerful sound,
While our sports shall be seen
On the echoing green.  Old John with white hair
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk.
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say:
‘Such, such were the joys
When we all, girls and boys,
In our youth-time were seen
On the echoing green.’ Till the little ones weary
No more can be merry;
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end.
Round the laps of their mother
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest;
And sport no more seen
On the darkening gr…

Freedom to Learn Section VI: The Philosophical and Value Ramifications (part two) – freedom and commitment

Freedom to Learn or choose; self-directed learning; these are completely untenable concepts in the minds of many behavioral scientists, who believe that man is simply the inevitable product of his conditioning.” This chapter considers the issue of free choice in a world of determinism, the “continuing dialogue regarding the meaning of and the possibility of freedom.” 1.Man is UnfreeThe very title of this chapter would seem strange to behavioural scientists, who feel that “all the effective causes of behavior lie outside of the individual and that it is only through the external stimulus that behavior takes place.” Rogers describes a number of scientific experiments that clearly demonstrate the controlling impact of positive reinforcement on both animal and human behaviour. The experiments seem to be evidence that individual behaviour is shaped by outside stimulus so that there is no such thing as freedom in choosing one’s behaviour. Rogers ends this section by saying that “I think it…

Freedom to Learn Section VI: The Philosophical and Value Ramifications (part one) – a modern approach to the valuing process

In this chapter Rogers offers observations on the ‘problem of values’ in education and in the modern world generally: “It is no longer possible … to settle comfortably into the value system of one’s forbears or one’s community or one’s church and live out one’s life without ever examining the nature and the assumptions of that system.” He sees some “directional threads emerging that might offer a new concept of the valuing system.” 1.Some definitions Operative Values: “Charles Morris points out that value is a term we employ in different ways. We use it to refer to the tendency of any living beings to show preference, in their actions, for one kind of object or objective rather than another.Conceived Values: “This is the preference of the individual for a symbolized object.Objective Values: what is objectively preferable – this last does not enter Rogers’ account of values.
2.The infant’s way of valuing“The living human being has, at the outset, a clear approach to values. She prefers s…

Conference: Beyond the Neoliberal University - Critical Pedagogy and Activism

Has the idea of Higher Education as a social good been replaced by the idea of education for profit? What kind of University do we want?


This event seeks to address these concerns by bringing together activists, academics and trade unionists who are engaged practically with the consequences of the way our universities are being changed.

This event is free to attend but you must register. If you are in full time employment and feel you are able to make a contribution, then a donation of £20 can be used to fund travel expenses of those who need financial support in order to attend.

Join event
Around the world there have been a whole series of occupations and protests led by students, as well as actions involving lecturers and teachers, which reflect widespread disillusion with the way universities have come to act primarily as money making
institutions. This event will begin with speakers who will set out the social and econom…

Freedom to Learn Section V: Some disappointments in innovation – a pattern of failure

"It may have been evident that there was a significant omission in the many examples of the effectiveness of the person-centred approach. There was no description of a whole educational institution built around such an approach sustaining itself successfully over a period of years. This is because humanistic, innovative educational organizations have a poor record in regard to permanence." This chapter presents thumbnail sketches of person-centred institutions that failed/didn’t sustain over years and the reasons why not. 1.1.Louisville Kentucky The Louisville school system were marked by steady deterioration and a staff in despair. The school board hired a forward-thinking superintendent who implemented innovations such as week-long human relations workshops, intensive group experiences where people get to know each other as persons – open classrooms, team teaching, student freedom and choice. The new programme was very successful – but it was ended due mainly to wider poli…

Freedom to Learn Section IV: What are the facts? Researching Person-centered issues in education

1.Why read this chapter? This chapter presents convincing evidence for the efficacy of the person-centred approach, from Aspy & Roebuck - The National Consortium for Humanizing Education (NCHE) - in the USA and from the Drs Tausch in Germany. It begins with Rogers making a case for the data-averse reader to read on because the research on the person-centred approach to education: 1.shows that students learn more, attend school more often, are more creative and more capable of problem solving 2.provides the facts and support to convince skeptical administrators or boards of education 2.Our research and our findings - David Aspy and Flora Roebuck2.1.The basic question Is person-centred education effective? The NCHE's research on interpersonal relationships in classrooms over 17 years and in 42 states and 8 countries reveals that: Students learn more and behave better when they receive high levels of understanding, caring and genuineness, than when they are given low levels of them…

Freedom to Learn Section III: For the Teacher (part five) – The politics of education

This chapter (adapted from Carl Rogers on Personal Power) compares and contrasts traditional and person-centred education as two poles of a continuum, along which every  educational effort, every teacher, every institution of learning could locate itself at some appropriate point. 
1.The traditional mode Rogers describes the major characteristics of “conventional education as we have known it for a long time in the United States”: The teachers are the possessors of knowledge, the students the expected recipients.The lecture, or some means of verbal instruction, is the major means of getting knowledge into the recipients. The examination measures the extent to which the students have received it. The teachers are the possessors of power, the students the ones who obey (Rogers adds that Administrators are also possessors of power, and both teachers and students are the ones who obey – and that control is always exercised downward).Rule by authority is the accepted policy in the classroo…

Freedom to Learn Section III: For the Teacher (part four) – Developing person-centred teachers

This chapter presents a case study of a teacher-education programme at St. Lawrence University in New York. Rogers begins by outlining the dire state of an education system - including teacher-education courses - which is boring and a waste of time. St. Lawrence, however, is a person-centred institution which helps teachers become human beings in the teaching situation. 
The case study covers the roots, setting and programme, as well as problems encountered and an evaluation solution. It also offers students' own responses to the programme, which report significant learning, growth in self-esteem, insight, confidence, and as a person. The overall tenor can be illustrated by two paragraphs from a talk Rogers gave before he completed a visit to St. Lawrence, here talking of the course:  It seems to me to be a total, unified, coherent experiment in teacher training. It is aimed toward trusting students, toward respecting them as persons and as learners. It is operating not only at a…

Freedom to Learn Section III: For the Teacher (part three) – Methods of Building Freedom

"If you want to give your students a freedom to learn, how can you do it?" This chapter presents specific approaches, methods, techniques for "the teacher who wishes to step into the chilly waters of classroom innovation." 1.Building upon problems perceived as real Students are often insulated from the real problems of life. If they are to be free, then they must be allowed to face problems that are real to them and relevant to the course at hand. 2.Providing resources Instead of spending time organising lesson plans and lectures, facilitative teachers focus on providing relevant and imaginative resources and supporting their effective use. Resources are not only books, articles, work space, laboratory room and equipment, tools, maps, films, recordings - but also people who might contribute and interest students, people from the community - and the teacher, by making herself available, is the most important resource. 3.Use of contracts Student contracts are an op…

Freedom to Learn Section III: For the Teacher (part two) – Becoming a Facilitator

This chapter explores the facilitator role in greater depth. 1.A magic Wand "Suppose I had a magic wand that could produce only one change in our educational systems. What would that change be?" The wand would cause every teacher to forget that they are a teacher, forget their teaching skills so that they found themselves unable to teach. Thus they would find themselves holding the attitudes - genuineness, prizing and empathy - and possesed of the skills of a facilitator of learning. And there is no resemblance between teaching and facilitation, they are at opposite poles.  2.What is the way? There are many ways by which one may change - asking questions might be a start... 1. What is it like? What is it like to be a child who is learning something significant? Rogers recounts his own experience by way of an answer. He explored a fascination with moths in his youth and became quite expert in their behaviour and development - however, this was at home and he said nothing of …