Carl Rogers


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An American psychologist who wrote extensively about the psychology of learning. He discarded the term ‘teacher’ and used instead ‘facilitator’ in order both to stress the centrality of the learner in the learning process, and to argue against the formation of the traditional power relationship which assumes a higher status for the teacher in relation to the learner. Instead, he presented the learning process as one which is to the mutual benefit of both the learner and the facilitator of learning, arguing that ‘the facilitation of significant learning rests upon certain attitudinal qualities which exist in the personal relationship between the facilitator and the learner’ (Rogers 1983: 121). In claiming that a relationship of trust and respect is essential to successful learning, Rogers also argued that the facilitator–teacher should demonstrate an ‘unconditional positive regard’ for the learner. In other words, the teacher's attitude should be non‐judgemental and accepting; and the learner should be made to feel valued and cared for. This is often cited as epitomizing the extreme application of humanist learning theory. It was Rogers's belief that all organisms have a tendency towards ‘actualization’, the development of its full potential. In educational terms this suggests that the teacher's role is to facilitate the learner's progress towards this goal, rather than to deliver an externally imposed standard curriculum.

Further Reading:

C. Rogers Freedom to Learn for the 80s (Merrill, 1983).

Subjects: Education.

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