At RAKtrain (Alternative Education Provider) we run personal development courses for learners mainly aged 14-16 years old and are all in danger of becoming NEET (not in employment or education). The theory of learning I use most is a humanist approach. This approach started in the mid 20th Century with different approaches to psychology: behaviourism, psychoanalysis, and humanism. Humanism examines the true potential of learners through creativity, free, will and their own potential. The following quote strikes at the heart of humanist theories; “The ultimate goal of the educational system is to shift to the individual the burden of pursuing his own education.”“We think of the mind as a storehouse to be filled when we should think of it as an instrument to be used.” JW Gardener
An early founder of the humanist movement was Carl Rogers (January 8, 1902 – February 4, 1987) was an influential American psychologist. His belief was that we could all reach an ideal self, a real self, best illustrated in his own words: “This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the faint-hearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one's potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life.” (page 196 Rogers 1961) The major humanist protagonist however was Abraham Harold Maslow born on April 1, 1908 in Brooklyn, New York and was the first of seven children born to his parents. He received his BA in 1930, his MA in 1931, and his PhD in 1934, all in psychology, all from the University of Wisconsin. A year after graduation, he returned to New York to work with E. L. Thorndike at Columbia, where Maslow became interested in research on human sexuality. He began teaching full time at Brooklyn College. During this period of his life, he came into contact with the many European intellectuals that were immigrating to the US, and Brooklyn in particular, at that time -- people like Adler, Fromm, Horney, as well as several Gestalt and Freudian psychologists. Maslow published “A Theory of Human Motivation” in 1943 which focused on human motivation that can directly affect behaviour. Without fully understanding Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs (see below) it is difficult to appreciate fully a learner’s motivation or indeed
their resulting behaviour. Maslow’s theories are particularly attributable to my group of learners, as many of them struggle to reach the first stage of Maslow’s pyramid satisfactorily. For example these learners invariably do not eat breakfast or lunch, they most certainly do not have a balanced diet. Some have addictions which will over power their requirement for food thus making it even harder for them to climb Maslow’s scale. “Maslow proposed a hierarchy of motives, with those at the bottom taking precedence over those higher up. If you are starving, for example, the basic physiological craving for food will trump all other goals and dominate your thought processes. Once you’re well-fed, you begin to worry about safety, and once you’re safe, you begin to worry about getting affection.” Modernizing Maslow with a multi-level evolutionary structure. Published on May 19, 2010 by Douglas T. Kenrick, Ph.D. in Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life
Thus Maslow’s scale influences many of the teaching strategies and methods that I use with my learners. We ensure that when learners are with us that they are sufficiently fed and watered. So breakfast and lunch is always provided so that learners have the ability to complete the mental and physical tasks that we have set for them. Just dealing with these issues alone has a very direct impact on learners. Not only are they able to complete the tasks asked of them but they also have an immediate empathy with you for providing them with something that they do not get at home.
With the potential NEET learners in our groups we would very rarely see someone with the necessary support and...
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