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The Humanistic Philosophy of Adult Education Essay

The humanistic philosophy of education grows out of the work of Carl Ransom Rogers. Rogers’ book Freedom to Learn draws on his experience and research in psychotherapy in order to communicate effective teaching strategies (Patterson, 1977). In this book, Rogers argues that “the only man who is educated is the man who has learned how to learn” (cited in Patterson, p. 17). The goal of education, then, must be not only intellectual education but also the growth and development of the entire person, with focus on fostering creativity and self-directed learning (Patterson, 1977).

In order to focus on the goal, Rogers advocated experiential learning, where the student learns from everyday life (Patterson, 1977). While others before him had noted the value of this type of education, Rogers was the first to seek its implementation (Patterson, 1977). This type of learning, with its focus on the entire person, is humanistic, as humanists believe that “it is necessary to study the person as a whole” (Huitt, 2001).

Gage and Berliner (1991) defined the five essential goals of humanistic education: to promote self-direction and independence, to develop the ability to take responsibility for what is learned, to develop creativity, to encourage curiosity, and to promote an interest in the arts. Insofar as adult education is concerned, several components that Gage and Berliner (1991) identify as being essential to these five basic goals of humanistic education are particularly relevant. First, the authors contend that students learn best in a non-threatening environment (Gage and Berliner, 1991).

For adults seeking either to complete their high school degrees or to return to school in an environment surrounded by students much younger than themselves, it seems logical that a non-threatening environment would help them achieve more success. Second, the authors assert that students will learn best what they want and need to learn (Gage and Berliner, 1991). This concept also seems to particularly fit the needs of adult students, many of whom have already been in the work-force and are aware of what skills and knowledge are necessary for their own career advancement.

References Gage, N. , & Berliner, D. (1991). Educational psychology (5th ed. ). Boston: Houghton, Mifflin. Huitt, W. (2001). Humanism and Open Education. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved June 1, 2009 from http://chiron. valdosta. edu/whuitt/col/affsys/humed. html. Patterson, C. H. (1977). Foundations for a Theory of Instructional and Educational Psychology. New York: Harper & Row. Retrieved on June 1, 2009 from http://www. sageofasheville. com/pub_downloads/CARL_ROGERS_AND_HUMANISTIC_EDUCATION. pdf.


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