1.3 Humanistic theories
Humanistic psychology is a general term for theories that take feelings, attitudes and values into account. The teacher is the facilitator and creates a democratic, student-centred, welcoming and safe environment. In this type of environment, the teacher is expected to promote self-confidence and self-esteem, and the learner is encouraged to speak freely without the fear of criticism (Rogers, 1983).
You will find that principles of the humanistic theory can be applied to practice: it emphasises person-centred care, where the service user is given choice and autonomy, and the nurse shows empathy and compassion for the individual.
Figure 4 depicts the humanistic theory of adult learning where the teacher acts as a facilitator of learning and encourages the active involvement of all individuals in the group.
Figure 5 shows Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which you will look at in more detail in Activity 5.
Activity 5 Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
Watch this video from YouTube, which explains Maslow’s hierarchy of needs succinctly with an amusing overtone. Note how this theory relates to the education of learners.
You may have noted that Maslow’s (1987) hierarchy of needs assists us in understanding the role that motivation plays in teaching when basic needs (such as food, water and sleep) are not met – the lack of these basic needs can affect the learner’s learning.
The hierarchy of needs is based on many assumptions and has been criticised for being too simplistic, yet it is recognised that a learner’s basic needs must be satisfied before higher-order needs such as self-esteem and self-actualisation can be met. For example, you need to be aware that if a learner is hungry, or tired, or anxious, they cannot concentrate on learning a particular procedure.
It is important to remember that what is regarded as a perceived need for one individual may be quite different for another. Therefore, an assessment of the learner’s needs and goals as they perceive them should be conducted in the learning situation (Keating, 2006).
In the next section you will compare the differences between andragogy and pedagogy, and the principles underlying the two different approaches to learning.