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Published on April 10, 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 kind world.

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

Well, humanism has its origins in psychology, 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. Today you’ll find out all about it!

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 theory in psychology, it puts humans in charge of 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.

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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 humanism 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.

  1. Humanist researchers assume that deep down, every human is 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 humanism concerning learning, the three components 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.

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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:

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]

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It is a pyramid that starts with the broadest category of basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Then it moves onto 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

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 experts, you can take the help of 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.

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 puts 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!

More Tips on Learning

Featured photo credit: Sheri Hooley via unsplash.com

Reference

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

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Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 24, 2020

A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

One of the most crucial aspects of our lives is the ability to learn. We often take this skill for granted since not many of us pause and think about our learning process. In fact, if we did, we would probably uncover that we engage in ineffective learning mechanisms.

Think about it. Has your learning helped you recall things you learned last month? Go back a year and ponder.

A lot of how we learn was tucked away in school. Our exposure to school learning is the basis of how we learn moving forward. However, over the past few decades, learning has evolved into different stages of learning, and that becomes the main issue.

No longer are we looking at examinations of people’s characteristics about understanding and learning. Instead, scholars have created learning processes that use materials that support our interactions with others and our goals.

As a result, we can learn new things more smartly and effectively – which will be covered as we proceed further in understanding the learning process.

The Essential Steps of the Learning Process

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell states that the key to success is for us to practice 10,000 hours on a specific skill. It’s also worth noting that the skill needs the correct learning direction. If you’re learning how to do something the wrong way, you’ll continue to use it the wrong way.

But before understanding the learning process, we must understand the stages of learning. Written in the 1970s, Noel Burch created a model called the Four Stages of Learning. [1]

From there, we can use the stages of learning as a basis for how to learn effectively.

1. Unconscious Incompetence

Think of a skill that you are good at and that you use every single day.

Now think back to when you first developed that skill. Were you good at it? Probably not.

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You never heard of the skill or had a desire to learn of it until that point. This is the first stage: You know nothing about it.

2. Conscious Incompetence

Once you have heard of the skill, you begin to delve into it.

Driving a car is a perfect example. Before this stage, you never felt the need to learn how to drive. Nevertheless, once you became of legal age, you had to study to get your license. You likely made several mistakes on the driving test as well as during the written test.

This is the stage where you feel learning is slow, and you’re also aware of your mistakes.

3. Conscious Competence

By this stage, you know pretty much everything you need to know. At the same time, though, you are also aware that you need to focus and concentrate on what you are doing.

This stage can be that you know the rules of the road and can drive well. However, you feel you can’t talk to anyone, play any music, or look away from the road. You feel like you need total silence to focus and concentrate on driving.

At this stage, learning can be even slower than the previous stages. The learning isn’t consistent, nor is it a habit yet.

4. Unconscious Competence

By this stage, you’ve made it. You know everything in and out about the skill. It’s become a habit, and you don’t need to concentrate. You can relax and let your unconscious mind take over.

Exceeding the 4 Stages: Flow/Mastery

While Burch only covered four stages, there is another stage that exceeds it. This is the flow or mastery stage.

You may have heard of something called a flow state. [2] It’s the mental state where someone is performing an activity and is fully immersed in it. They feel energized, focused, and get a sense of joy from doing this activity.

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Flow or mastery can stem from all kinds of activities like Writing, reading, jogging, biking, figure skating, and more. It’s also characterized as complete absorption in what you’re doing, making you unaware of space and time.

Different Types of Learning Process

Another aspect of the learning process is the types of learning. While every person goes through those stages of learning, how we learn is different.

Having covered four learning styles in 4 Learning Styles to Help You Learn Faster and Smarter, I’m recapping the different types of learning in psychology.

Psychiatrists have narrowed how we learn down to seven learning styles as below:

  • Visual (spatial): Learning through pictures, graphs, charts, etc.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): Learning through sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): Learning through spoken or written words.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): Learning through the body, hands, and a sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): Learning through logic, systems, and reasons.
  • Social (interpersonal): Learning through groups or talking to people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): Learning individually through self-study or individual assignments.

You may be asking why all of this matters and actually how we learn plays a significant role. How we internally represent experiences stems from how we learn. What we learn not only establishes how we recall information but also impacts our own word choice.

It also influences which part of our brain we use for learning. Researchers uncovered this through various experiments.[3]

For example, say you’re driving to a place you’ve never gone before. How you learn will determine which method of learning you’ll use. Some will ask people for directions, while others will pull up Google maps. Some will write the directions out, while some won’t and merely follow street signs.

Knowing how to learn to this depth is vital because once you know what style you use, you can then develop a learning process to be a more effective learner.

How To Become an Effective Learner?

The learning process varies from person to person. Generally speaking, though, consider the following steps and considerations:

1. Improve Your Memory

Learning doesn’t only require that we learn information, but to retain it. If we are to learn something, we will have to learn and relearn. This means recalling and having a sharp memory to keep that information.

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Improving our memory can range from a variety of things. From memory palaces to practicing other memory improvement tactics.

2. Keep Learning and Practicing New Things

Learning a new skill takes time, but there is nothing wrong with learning a few other things. International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training[4] reported that those who juggled between learning different topics increase their gray matter which is associated with visual memory

3. Learn in Many Ways

While we have our own go-to style, delving into other types and stages of learning can be useful. If you learn by listening to podcasts, why not try rehearsing information verbally or visually?

It will not start great, but by improving your skill to describe what you learned orally, you are further cementing the knowledge in your mind.

Judy Willis MD, M.Ed in her publication on Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success[5] states how the more regions we keep data stored, the more interconnection there is in the collection information that we later process.

4. Teaching What You Learned to Others

It doesn’t have to be in a tutoring situation, but this method is still a reliable way for two people to grow.

Regardless of learning styles, we retain the information we tell others more effectively than if we keep it to ourselves. Was there a random fact you told someone a few months ago? You are more likely to remember that information because you brought it up to someone.

5. Use Relational Learning

Relational learning is relating new information to things you already know.

A typical example of this is remembering someone’s name. You can better recall that person’s name if you associate that name to something or someone familiar.

6. Gaining Practical Experience

Nothing beats learning than trying it for yourself. Sure, seeing information does have its strong points -and most learning styles benefit from exposed information – there is something to be said about getting your “hands dirty.”

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7. Refer Back to past Info If Need Be

The learning process is not perfect. We’ll forget at certain points. If you ever struggle to remember something, make a point of going back to your notes.

This is key because if we try recalling, we risk ourselves learning or relearning the wrong answer. And again, there is a difference between learning the right way and the wrong way.

8. Test Yourself

While this step may seem odd, there are benefits to testing yourself. Even if you think you know everything about the topic, going back and testing yourself can always help.

Not only does testing improve our recall, but we may realize that we learned a concept or task incorrectly. That knowledge can enhance our effectiveness in the future.

9. Stop Multitasking

While we should be learning new things all the time, we shouldn’t be trying to do several tasks at once. We ought to focus on one activity at a time before moving onto other tasks.

By trying to multitask, we are learning less effectively and are only hindering ourselves. Check out how multitasking is merely another way of distracting ourselves.

Bottom Line

Psychologists define learning as the process of a permanent change in a person’s behavior resulting from experience. The understanding of the learning process is up to us, but do consider the bigger picture. Be aware of what style works best for you, and work to improve it while enhancing other learning styles. The only way we can advance a skill is to learn continuously. Even in the skills you have mastered, there are always new developments.

You can learn more about how you can cultivate lifelong learning and attain an edge in every niche that you get associated with today!

Featured photo credit: Aliis Sinisalu via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Gordon Training International: The Four Stages of Competence
[2] Habits for Wellbeing: Flow: the Secret to Happiness: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
[3] Training Industry: How the Brain Learns
[4] International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training
[5] Judy Willis MD, M.Ed: Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success

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