The Humanistic Movement in Education

A humanistic teaching approach is based on the premise that students have aneed to become adults who are self-actualized, a term used by Maslow (1954). Self-actualized adults are self-directed, confident, mature, realistic abouttheir goals, and flexible. They are able to accept themselves, their feelings,and others around them.

In order to become self-actualized adults, students need a classroom thatgives them the feedom to be creative. Many humanistic teachers believe thereshould be no lesson plans or standard curricula and that grades should bede-emphasized or abolished completely. In practice, humanistic teaching methodscombine individual and small-group instruction methods. Unlike traditionalteachers, humanistic educators are on equal footing with their students, whohave the right to choose what they will study. The role of humanistic teachersis to organize their classrooms so that students will "wish to learn, wantto grow, seek to find out, hope to master, [and] desire to create" (Rogers,1959). The open classrooms popular in the 1970s were based on the principles ofhumanistic education.


The basic objectives of humanistic education are to encourage students to: