Humanism vs. Behaviorism in the Classroom

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Brittany
 Borcherdt
  EDU
 4100;
 Tuesday
 3:30-­‐6:30
  MIDTERM
 ASSIGNMENT,
 PART
 1
  November
 6,
 2011
 

  The
 humanistic
 approach
 to
 teaching
 is
 rooted
 in
 the
 philosophy
 that
 a
 student’s
 emotional
 state
 of
 being
 is
  inextricable
 from
 his
 or
 her
 cognitive
 state.
 Therefore,
 a
 constructive
 learning
 environment
 addresses
 the
  student’s
 emotional
 and
 physical
 needs.
 The
 goal
 of
 humanistic
 teaching
 is
 to
 cultivate
 self-­‐sufficient
 learners
  who
 desire
 to
 learn,
 maintain
 respect
 for
 themselves
 and
 their
 peers,
 and
 can
 connect
 learning
 inside
 the
  classroom
 to
 real
 situations
 outside
 of
 it.
 This
 model
 promotes
 divergent
 thinking
 and
 creativity,
 and
 it
 aims
 to
  foster
 confidence
 and
 self-­‐efficacy
 in
 students.
 
 The
 humanistic
 model
 poses
 the
 teacher
 as
 a
 facilitator
 role
  rather
 than
 a
 critic
 and
 disciplinarian,
 and
 it
 promotes
 questioning
 strategies
 to
 reinforce
 learning
 through
  active
 decision-­‐making
 and
 critical
 thinking.
 Philosophers
 of
 this
 movement
 include
 Rudolf
 Steiner,
 who
  founded
 the
 Waldorf
 schools,
 and
 Abraham
 Maslow,
 who
 defined
 the
 Hierarchy
 of
 Needs
 to
 illustrate
 man’s
  desire
 for
 achieving
 self-­‐actualization.
 
 
  The
 behavioral
 model
 is
 based
 on
 the
 idea
 of
 determinism
 -­‐
 the
 scientific
 concept
 that
 everything
 has
 a
 cause
  and
 effect.
 This
 philosophy
 assumes
 the
 learning
 process
 as
 a
 pragmatic
 science,
 wherein
 students
 are
 viewed
  as
 reactive
 organisms
 for
 which
 behaviors
 can
 be
 shaped
 through
 conditioning.
 One
 such
 technique
 is
 operant
  conditioning,
 wherein
 students
 are
 rewarded
 for
 good
 behaviors
 and
 punished
 or
 ignored
 for
 undesirable
  behaviors.
 This
 conditioning
 is
 formalized
 through
 continuous
 reinforcement
 of
 these
 reactions.
 Once
 the
  students
 begin
 to
 internalize
 his
 or
 her
 learned
 behaviors,
 the
 teacher
 will
 wean
 them
 off
 of
 rewards
 and
  punishments
 (intermittent
 reinforcement).
 In
 a
 stark
 contrast
 to
 the
 humanistic
 model,
 the
 behavioral
 model
  negates
 the
 concept
 of
 free
 will,
 and
 therefore
 its
 practice
 decreases
 intrinsic
 motivation
 and
 critical
 thinking
  in
 the
 student.
 Theorists
 who
 shaped
 this
 model
 include
 Ivan
 Pavlov,
 a
 physiologist
 who
 formalized
 the
  concept
 of
 conditioned
 reflexes,
 and
 B.F.
 Skinner,
 who
 founded
 radical
 behaviorism.
 
  As
 an
 educator,
 I
 intend
 to
 integrate
 more
 of
 a
 humanistic
 approach
 in
 my
 teaching
 style.
 I
 wholeheartedly
  believe
 in
 the
 positive
 implications
 of
 recognizing
 and
 fostering
 free
 will
 in
 my
 students.
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