Humanism

“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, ‘Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.’ I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.”

–Carl Rogers

Classroom practice in early childhood education has perhaps been most profoundly influenced by those associated with Humanist approaches to psychology, specifically Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. Strategies articulated by Thomas Gordon in his work, Parent Effectiveness Training and Teacher Effectiveness Training, are echoed when you hear a teacher say to a child, “It looks like you are upset,” or in the use of “I” statements. Concepts like unconditional positive regard and problem ownership are common guideposts in Humanist approaches.

Carl Rogers proposed that adults engaged in the 5 following behaviors, they could help children develop to their full potential (from Puckett and Black, 2001).

1. Recognize and accept their own feelings and recognize the role their feelings and attitudes play in their interactions and relationships with children
2. Establish relationships with individual children that are characterized by acceptance, rapport, mutual support, and recognition
3. Recognize and accept the child’s feelings (both positive and negative) and help the child to find constructive outlets for the expression of his/her feelings
4. Assume a helping role in which genuine understanding and empathy are communicated to the child
5. Support the child’s growing sense of self by helping the child to recognize and build on his or her strengths and capabilities

In the clip below, he talks about these behaviors in the context of a counselor-client interaction.

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