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.
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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.
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:
- Humanist researchers assume that deep down, every human is inherently good. There is no evilness whatsoever.
- 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.
- The third assumption is that humans can control their thoughts freely.
- The final assumption is that being positive and optimistic is the only way to achieve goodness.
When it comes to learning based on the humanism theory, the three key concepts include:
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. They added the following contributions to this theory:
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.
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.
From bottom to top, these needs are arranged in the order of most important to least important for effective learning.
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.
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.
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