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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How to Speed up Your Learning With the Humanism Theory

How to Speed up Your Learning With the Humanism Theory

Most would agree with the opinion that the world is a cruel place. This isn’t targeted towards humans only, although most of what happens is directly or indirectly an effect of human behavior. The humanism theory can be viewed as a step towards a more sensitive world, a kinder world.

You might be thinking how all of this is related to learning and how it can possibly make you more skilled than you already are.

Well, humanism has its origins as a force in psychology as a theory of human motivation, but it is also closely linked to learning theories. This theory links behavior with learning, which isn’t all that unique if you take a look at some other learning models.

However, it is still very different, with unique uses and advantages, which we will cover below.

What Is the Humanist Learning Theory?

To get the most out of the concept, you need to first have a clear understanding of what the theory is.

As per the humanism theory in psychology, it emphasizes the importance of each human’s role in creating a better environment. It is aimed towards an overall strong and united world.

Here’s the thing:

This sense of unity and empathy translates to learning by encouraging every human to not just gain knowledge themselves, but also to spread it so that more people can benefit from it. Altogether, humanism aims to create a world where everyone is helpful, so that even in the toughest times, any sort of crisis can be fought with cooperation.

From a definition point of view, the humanism theory focuses on an individual’s potential. It emphasizes things like free will and personal well-being to minimize stressful effects.

It is not linked to any religion or culture. Instead, humanism believes that regardless of these factors, every single human is capable of goodness. This theory gives every individual the right to believe in whatever they want, without any repercussions, criticism, rewards, or punishments.

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However, since the entire idea of humanism is of collaborative learning, these ideas and beliefs are to be openly discussed and shared, never enforced.

The strongest force, according to the humanism theory, is the human race itself. Every person is responsible for controlling their mind and actions.

Assumptions of the Theory

All these ideas seem to be very idealistic, and they definitely are. The humanism theory has been designed with four main assumptions around human personality:

  1. Humanist researchers assume that deep down, every human is inherently good. There is no evilness whatsoever.
  2. This leads to the second assumption, which is that every human wants to strive to become their best version, regardless of the efforts they need to put in.
  3. The third assumption is that humans can control their thoughts freely.
  4. The final assumption is that being positive and optimistic is the only way to achieve goodness.

Humanism-Based Learning

When it comes to learning based on the humanism theory, the three key concepts include:

  1. Observation
  2. Evaluation
  3. Revision

Observation relies solely on truth and reality. It is free of every sort of imagination. Only those things that can be observed exist in full reality.

This does not restrict the learning to what is already known. Evaluation is where all the imagination, opinions, and personal points of view come in.

In fact, humanism strongly supports learning through creative means such as art, music, and literature. This includes visual, auditory, and reading or writing learning styles. This theory is a strong supporter of creativity.

Revision then helps the individual repeat what’s true and what they think about it. This way, the reality is clearly distinguished from personal biases and societal visions. Yet, the entirety of the concept is imprinted in the brain.

The Development of the Humanism Theory

Humanism may have been in the minds of many, but it didn’t gain popularity until the 20th century. A lot of researchers worked around this theory in their own way. However, they all had one common goal: to find ways of learning that would promote every individual’s personal strengths and weaknesses.

Although there have been several studies, two main people who did wonders for the learning side of the spectrum are Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow.[1] They added the following contributions to this theory:

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Emotional Stability

Carl Rogers had very unique ideas about learning. He mainly suggested the complete opposite of a structured learning environment.

Instead, he emphasized emotions, learning freedom, and the eradication of all boundaries.

Basically, Rogers extended the humanism theory by claiming that for any human to improve their strengths, they need to have stable emotions.

He was certainly right. Have you ever learned anything successfully while you were angry or sad?

Rogers also suggested that every individual should be able to choose what they want to learn. The restrictions of a set curriculum should be eradicated. This also changed the role of teachers from tutors to mere facilitators.

This applies to every part of learning. If you were to go to a gym, as per this belief, you would choose whether you want to go for Zumba or a treadmill exercise. Then, the gym instructor would assist you so that you didn’t pull a muscle or hurt yourself. Other than that, you would have the complete freedom to design your own plan.

Although it may be a great technique for a huge audience, it totally ignores individuals who need a structured learning environment along with a set of rules to follow.

Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow is most famously known for his Hierarchy of Needs.[2]

It is a pyramid of human motives that starts with the broadest category of basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Then, it moves on to the sense of security.

The next need in this pyramid is love and relationships, which is followed by respect and self-esteem. All these progress to the category of self-actualization. This is supposed to be the final aim.

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From bottom to top, these needs are arranged in the order of most important to least important for effective learning[3].

Maslow's hierarchy of needs for humanism theory

     

    What Are the Goals of Humanism Theory in Learning?

    If the humanism theory were to be summarized into one goal, it would be to support every individual in their own element, style, and personality.

    This goal further divides into numerous others.

    It aims to benefit the entire community instead of one individual. Emotional learning, self-concept, goodness for all, and widespread positivity are concepts that humanism stresses.

    Also, it aims to produce successful individuals who are capable in their own field. In fact, if you look closely, a lot of successful people do practice humanism.

    How to Learn With the Humanism Theory

    The humanism theory is an extremely optimistic approach. The idealistic approach, although doable, is difficult to implement to its fullest extent.

    However, Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow have offered a convenient route for learners to follow. No matter which skill or category of knowledge you want to gain, by implementing the studies of these two humanists, you can enhance your learning immensely.

    1. Learning Free of Boundaries

    Firstly, there’s the approach suggested by Carl Rogers. Since it rids learners from all sorts of set boundaries, you have the freedom to design your own learning plan.

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    Since you’re not an expert, you can receive help from a teacher who will facilitate your learning progress. But, you can have full control over how, when, and what to learn.

    If you are interested in learning a foreign language, you will definitely need guidance from an expert in the language. However, the pace of learning, which aspects of the language you want to learn, how crammed the schedule should be, and other similar factors of the process can be planned by you.

    2. Prioritizing Personal Needs

    One major component of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is self-realization. You can achieve self-actualization by following simple exercises aimed at personal growth.

    Self-actualization is the highest goal in this pyramid. It is the main goal that you should strive to achieve.

    Therefore, once you get on the road to achieving self-actualization, you will find your learning process automatically falls in line with the rest of the theory. It is like a domino effect; once you get on the right track, the rest becomes a piece of cake because your mind begins to move forward along the same lines on its own.

    The hierarchy of needs can be used to prioritize every individual learner’s needs so that the process goes smoothly and reaps efficient results. You can ensure your health, comfort, and emotional stability before moving on with the learning.

    For example, you may postpone a music class until you find a comfortable spot to sit if that’s what your prioritized need is.

    Final Thoughts

    Humanism focuses on putting most of the control in the hands of the learners.

    While it may bring forth certain disadvantages, it is actually rather effective in the case of career-oriented individuals.

    Freedom, along with the responsibility, ensures effective learning to promote the individual’s qualities to overpower the weaknesses.

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    Featured photo credit: Gift Habeshaw via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Minnesota State University: Humanistic and Holistic Learning Theory
    [2] Highgate Counselling Center: Maslow Hierarchy of Needs
    [3] ThoughtCo: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Explained

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    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Published on April 20, 2021

    How To Ask the Right Questions For Effective Learning

    How To Ask the Right Questions For Effective Learning

    Asking the right questions is basically the magic key to any kind of personal or professional development. Sounds pretty awesome, huh? Unfortunately, many people are afraid to ask questions at all. They often think that they look stupid if they ask too many questions.

    Well, funny enough, it’s impossible to move forward without asking questions. How are you supposed to learn anything new if you’re never wondering, “how can I do that?” or “what is required to achieve my desired result?”

    But it’s not only about asking others. You must also master the art of asking yourself the right questions. Yes, you read that right. The kind of questions you ask yourself can have a huge impact on your results. And they can, in fact, make the difference between hitting your goals and not moving forward at all.

    Alright, so in this article, I’ll cover the question (you see what I mean?): how do I ask the right questions for effective learning?

    Why Is Asking the Right Questions Important for Effective Learning?

    Before we look at the “how,” let’s first talk about why it’s so important to ask the right questions for effective learning.

    1. Questions Lead to Answers

    As mentioned before, you can’t learn or move forward without asking questions. Just imagine if you start a new job and you never asked anything at all. Would you ever be able to do a good job?

    Sure, you might be lucky and get all your instructions delivered on a silver platter. But even if that’s the case, what will you do with very specific situations that weren’t covered in the instructions? Or what will you do with constructive criticism from your boss?

    If you just take that and then only do exactly what your boss said without ever questioning what they really meant, will you really be able to improve your work?

    Okay, I think you get the point. You need answers for effective learning and improvement. And the only way to get them is through asking questions.

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    2. Asking the Right Questions Will Help You Be Successful

    Asking the right questions will also significantly improve your chances of being successful.

    Let’s take another example. Let’s say you want to build your own business. How do you start? That’s right—that’s the first good question to ask yourself. After that, a lot of your success depends on what you’re asking yourself and others.

    Now, let’s compare two kinds of questions. Let’s say you get stuck in your business building process. You could ask yourself: “why doesn’t this work for me?” Or you could ask yourself “how can I make this work for me?”

    Do you see the difference? The second question is an empowering one that will guide you to success. Of course, you need to be relentless and motivated to actually find a solution. But simply asking yourself this kind of question will significantly improve your chances for success.

    The first question, on the other hand, is a rather disempowering one. It puts you in a victim role where you feel sorry for yourself rather than in a position to look for a solution. And have you ever seen someone who’s victimizing themself be successful? I sure haven’t!

    3. Communication Is Key for Improvement

    Now, let’s quickly look at another important aspect regarding questions addressed to other people.

    Good communication is essential for improvement, good relationships, and success. And that can literally be applied to any kind of situation. Be it your job, your business, your marriage, or with your friends, good communication is the foundation for healthy relationships.

    Effective communication requires active listening more than anything else. But what does that mean?

    It means to ask questions and then actually listen to what the other person has to say. This will not only help you improve your relationship with other people—and, therefore, help you move forward in your professional and personal life—but it will also help you gain a lot of knowledge, which is undoubtedly the most effective kind of learning.

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    People love to talk about themselves. So, you only need to find people who have the answers to your questions and then listen in an active way. And boom, you probably just shortened your learning curve by 50%.

    What Is Effective Learning?

    Okay, I’d like to quickly touch on one more important thing before we talk about how you can ask the right questions. And that is, “what is effective learning?”

    Contrary to common belief, we don’t stop learning after college. In school, we’re basically forced to learn certain topics. But it’s actually after this period that the really interesting learning period starts. Once you’re out of school, you can completely choose what things you want to learn yourself, and this is where effective learning really starts

    The best example is laid out in Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. In his book, he explains that the only way you can move forward in today’s economy is to learn hard things at a fast pace. He specifically talks about today’s economy because things are changing faster than ever. You can’t stay stuck with 10-year old technology or you’ll soon be left behind in our fast-paced world.

    So, this is basically what effective learning means—learning hard and relevant things at a fast pace.

    How to Ask the Right Questions for Effective Learning

    Alright, so now that you understand the importance of asking the right questions and what effective learning means, let’s put it all together.

    So, here’s how to ask the right questions for effective learning.

    1. Start by Asking Yourself

    As mentioned before, the most important aspect is to actually start by asking yourself the right kind of questions. Pay attention to always ask empowering questions—meaning, questions that are solution-oriented.

    These are often “how” questions. For instance:

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    • “How can I achieve my goal?”
    • “How can I make a better job?”
    • “How can I best use this resource?”

    Avoid disempowering, victimizing questions. It’s sometimes hard to even detect those because we’re often asking ourselves these kinds of questions without even noticing.

    This usually happens when we’re frustrated with a situation. These kinds of questions focus on why you’re in such a bad situation and absolutely ignore the possibility of a solution. These are often “why” questions. Here are a few examples:

    • “Why did this happen to me?”
    • “Why is everyone else successful except me?”
    • “Why can’t I be lucky for once?”

    2. Ask the Right People

    Once you’ve managed to ask yourself the right questions, it’s time to focus on what to ask other people. But it’s not only about what to ask. It’s also about whom to address it to.

    To promote effective learning, you need to ask the right people. These are people who have gone before you and who have achieved what you want to achieve. It doesn’t even need to be in person. Reading their books and wondering “what made them successful?” is a great way to start. If you can, totally opt in for asking those people in person, though. These can become your mentors or role models who will make effective learning significantly easier.

    To find the right people to ask, first determine your goal for this conversation. What do you want to learn? What do you want to achieve with that knowledge? Then, find people who have already achieved that.

    3. Ask Open-Ended Questions

    Once you have found the right people, it’s important to also phrase your questions the right way. That means asking open-ended questions.

    As mentioned before, people love talking about themselves and their achievements. And by asking open-ended questions, you allow them to share as much as possible. This is especially great to start a conversation as it will get you a lot of information right from the get-go. Later down the road, you can ask more specific questions to get the amount of detail you need.

    Great open-ended questions are: “how did you achieve (a milestone)?”; “what are the best tools to be successful?” “what helped you be so successful?”

    Make sure to enter your specific goal or their success in those questions. For instance, you could ask your boss, “what helped you get promoted after only working for the company for a year?”

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    4. Practice Active Listening

    Active listening is an insanely powerful skill. You can “extract” all of a person’s knowledge simply by listening and asking more open-ended questions that allow them to share even more of their experience and knowledge.

    Practice it with your friends or spouse. Set an intention of just listening for 10 minutes. During this time, only ask questions that allow them to talk about themselves. Don’t interrupt them and only ask deeper questions after they finished answering.

    After that, think about how much you just learned about the other person. Plus, you probably made the other person feel really good and flattered. This in turn will make it easier to get even more answers from them in the future.

    Once you feel comfortable, try this with one of your mentors. Believe me, they’ll love you for it, and you’ll get your answers much faster that way.

    5. Focus on the Solution

    One last point: always focus on the solution when asking any kind of question. This goes for asking yourself but also when asking other people.

    Your subconscious will automatically guide you towards what you’re focusing on.[1] If you’re focusing on the risks or on what could go wrong, guess where you’ll end up? Right there!

    If you focus on solutions and see struggles as opportunities to learn more, you’ll always end up finding solutions for any kind of problem or issue. So, asking the right questions is all about being solution-oriented and focusing on the opportunities rather than the risks.

    Conclusion

    Asking the right questions is not only essential for effective learning—aka learning hard things at a fast pace—but it’s also key to improving in any personal or professional area of your life.

    There are two important aspects of asking the right questions. The first is about what kind of questions you ask yourself. Make sure to keep them empowering and solution-oriented. This will help guide you to success instead of keeping you stuck with a problem.

    The second aspect is to ask the right kind of people to get answers that will help you achieve your goals. Make sure to find people who have gone before you. Then, ask them open-ended questions and practice active listening to learn as much as possible from them.

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    Featured photo credit: Product School via unsplash.com

    Reference

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