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Humanistic Orientation

Humanistic Orientation

Humanist orientation research papers are written for sociology and psychology courses that require this theoretical underpinning to be explored. If you need assistance in writing on humanistic philosophy or psychology, have our writers custom write the project for you.

The humanist orientation goes a step beyond cognitive theories in understanding a human potential for growth. Key to a humanist understanding is the belief that humans can control their own destiny, and can motivate themselves toward learning.Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs that put self-actualization at the top, the desire to achieve (and thus the motivation to learn). Carl Rogers also views learning as emanating from within the individual. According to Rogers, such learning has five essential characteristics:

  1. Personal involvement: the affective and cognitive aspects of a person should be involved in the learning event.
  2. Self-initiated: a sense of discovery must come from within
  3. Pervasive: the learning "makes a difference in the behavior, the attitudes, perhaps even the personality of the learner."
  4. Evaluated by the learner: the learner can best determine whether the experience is meeting a need.
  5. Essence is meaning: when experimental learning takes place, its meaning to the learner becomes incorporated into the total experience

Humanism is perhaps the best applied theory for adult learning. It realizes that at this level of education, the desire for self-actualization, the desire to learn, is at its highest. The individual becomes primarily responsible for his or her education.

A chief weakness in humanism is the placement of self-improvement at the top of human desires. Motivations are not always intrinsic, and can usually be attributed to baser factors. A second, sever limitation is, as Reed, Bergman and Olson point out, Rogers' idea of open education removed both content and professionalism from the teaching/learning process.

The humanist orientation is, however, the most appropriate for adult education. Adults usually have very specific reasons for exploring educational opportunities at a time in their lives when education is not mandated by the state. Often, such motivating factors are economic; adults need further education in order to advance their careers. This is a clear example of self-actualization, where the individual realizes that he or she can be more than they currently are, and is seeking a means of becoming so. Rogers and Maslow both agree that individuals possess unlimited potential for growth and development. Education is the key to this, and adult education in particular should be focused along humanist lines.

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