Humanistic Psychology Advocates The Idea English Language Essay

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Humanistic psychology advocates the idea of the uniqueness of each human being. It rejects the Freudian psychology, which considers the human being as governed by his unconsciousness. It rejects also the behaviorist notion that the human is a pure product of his environment. The merit of humanistic psychology lies in that it considers the whole person, in other words both his emotional and intellectual dimensions. The father of humanistic psychology Abraham Maslow discussed his theory of motivation in his descriptive model. It takes the form of a pyramid ascending from Physiological Needs to Self Actualization Needs (Maslow 1943 cited in Fontana, 1988). The five stage model was extended to eight stages in the 90s [1] as follows:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

1 Transcendence Needs

Self Actualization Needs

Aesthetic Needs for beauty

Knowledge and understanding Needs

Esteem Needs

(self respect, personal worth, autonomy)

Love and Belongingness Needs

(love, friendship, comradeship)

Safety Needs

(security; protection from harm)

Physiological Needs

(food, sleep, stimulation)

According to (Maslow Ibid.), the lower personal needs stand for physical needs such as food, drink… and security. These stand for innate characteristics in all human beings. He argues the three highest levels of the hierarchy can be achieved only and only if the biological needs are satisfied. For (Maslow Ibid.) when one satisfies his physical needs and guarantees his security from any outside aggression; he seeks social acceptance. Then, he looks for the ego satisfaction such as being esteemed by others. Only then he can move to the highest levels of self-actualization and transcendence needs. In the latter, the person transcends the satisfaction of his selfish needs to those of his entourage.

In my teaching experience, I have realized the far reaching effects of humanistic psychology in teaching. Indeed, it has guided my relationship with my students to make of it, first and above all, a human relationship. Its main aim is to achieve, hopefully, students' self-actualization when they attain the noble stages of productivity and creativity.

Teacher-student relationship

(Gordon, 1981) states that in the student-teacher relationship many elements enter into play, frankness that guarantees freedom of expression, the care for others that permits anybody to feel esteemed and valued, solidarity that replaces dependence and submissiveness, individuality that permits anybody to develop his own creativity, finally, respect of the needs of others to eliminate any privilege or frustration. I made sure that the relationship with my secondary school students transcended the traditional teacher-student one based on mere authority and submissiveness. Thus, the students accepted readily my guidance, remarks and corrections and I had very few disciplinary problems.

The key to the success in the teaching-learning process is good teacher-students' relationship. Bearing in mind this idea, I made one of my first preoccupations the forging of ideal ties with my students. I showed a great respect to my students for the simple reason that they are human beings and in no way their self-esteem should be trod on. So, I never humiliated a student or uttered any sarcastic or mocking remarks as a feedback to any given answer; this encouraged them to come out of their shells, participate more enthusiastically and guaranteed mutual respect.

I tried to do my best to involve the whole class. So, even the weakest students were invited to participate even in the mechanistic task of repetition. This provided an opportunity for them to be praised, hence to raise their self esteem and break their potential marginalization within the classroom. I made sure not to over-familiarize with my students in the first sessions. Hence, I confined my interactions with them within the classroom using only and only English. This strategy paved the way for a gradual familiarization later on.

Classroom behavior and classroom language

2.1 Questioning

Teachers' questions are the core of a course because they are the most important means used to elicit examples from students and involve them in a communicative interaction. (Tollefson, 1989) distinguishes between two types of questions namely 'display' and 'referential' ones. In the former the information required is already known by the questioner. In the latter, the information elicited is new.

Tollefson, (Ibid.) classifies questions in terms of their cognitive difficulty. Hence, he states the following taxonomy:

'Literal comprehension'. The student is asked to scan for information explicitly stated in the text.

'Reorganization'. The student is required to analyze or synthesize information.

'Inferential comprehension'. The student is required to use information in the text along with his personal knowledge to guess and form hypotheses.

'Evaluation'. The student is required to compare ideas in the text with his personal knowledge to come up with his own judgments.

'Appreciation'. The student is required to express aesthetic responses.

In both the tests and texts, I tried to mix the different types of questions graduating them from the less to the more challenging ones in order to motivate even the weakest students to attempt to answer.

(Borg et al., 1970, cited in Nunan, 1991) remarked that questions related to basic information within a text were far much used by teachers than questions, which elicited students' personal knowledge, beliefs and attitudes. Besides, giving questions suggests giving the needed 'wait time' for students to answer. Nunan (Ibid.) remarked that research done concerning the 'wait time' yielded the following conclusion. Teachers, in general, allowed only a short time before eliciting answers from students. Therefore, fewer responses were obtained, hence extending the 'wait time' is a sine qua non for the increase of the students' answers rate.

2. 2 Feedback

(Harmer, 1983) states that a major part of teachers' tasks is to assess students' performance. He argues that a distinction should be made between correcting and organizing feedback. The role of the teacher should be limited to a gentle correction which involves the mere signaling that incorrectness has been made. Harmer (Ibid.) distinguishes between two kinds of feedback. 'Content feedback' which assesses the extent to which the students have well-performed. On the other hand, 'Form feedback' assesses the students' performance in terms of accuracy. Nunan (1991) presents another distinction between 'positive' and 'negative' feedback'. He argues that behaviorist-inspired research concluded that positive feedback is more effective in changing pupils' behavior. He adds that positive feedback has two basic functions namely to enable students to be aware of their correct performance to increase their motivation through praise.

Nunan (Ibid.) remarks rightfully that most of the teachers' feedback is performed in an automatic and mechanistic way reducing ultimately its expected effectiveness. Therefore, the teacher should make sure that his positive feedback is given with the right voice pitch and accompanied with all the necessary positive facial expressions to make of it an effective strategy.

2. 3 Teacher/student talking ratio

Lewis and Hill (1992) argue that most teachers tend to talk too much to the detriment of the talking rate of students. Therefore, they provide techniques to facilitate the decrease of the teachers' talking time. First, if the onset of a lesson is a review of a previous one, the teacher should elicit information from students rather than articulate it himself. Second, the teacher should make a habit of asking students to use their own language as a paraphrase of a given sentence. Consequently, the basic principle is that the role of the teacher should be more limited to eliciting than instructing. Bearing in mind that in a communicative classroom what matters most is learning rather than teaching. Therefore, the teacher should be aware that students need to practice language. This can be possible if and only if the teacher provides students with this opportunity. One of the main techniques to increase the students' talking ratio is the use of group work activities. Indeed, in these activities students' interaction is higher as they tend to help each other while the teacher talks less while supervising them.

Reactions to students' misbehavior

(Burton, 1962) claims that the conception of order, discipline and punishment were always influenced by the theories in vogue. The first conception under which the misbehavior was treated was 'vindictive'. Its ultimate goal was vengeance from the misbehaving person. The next conception was labeled 'retributive punishment'. If one does evil, then let him undergo the consequences; the deterrent theory' in which the misbehaving pupil stands in a corner and is hold up to ridicule. 'The remedial theory' does not place all the blame upon the individual. 'The preventive theory' is the natural outcome of recent research. Its motto is that prevention of antisocial behavior is better than cure.

According to Harmer (1983) any punishment that hurts a person either physically or emotionally has dangerous consequences. He states steps that can be followed by a teacher in reacting to students' misbehavior. First, the sooner a discipline problem is checked the better. Second, the teacher should resort to stopping his lesson as a sign that he does not accept the disruptive behavior. Third, the teacher may reseat the bad behaving student in a different place to control him better. Fourth, the teacher may opt for another activity to involve all students and interest even the trouble makers. Fifth, the teacher can always talk to the disruptive student in private after the class. Finally, the last resort, when the problem reaches higher proportions, is to use the school institution to solve the matter.

Correction techniques

Lewis and Hill (1992) remark that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Yet, part of the teacher's role is to correct those mistakes following a given procedure. Harmer (1983) states that the correction stage consists of two basic stages: 'showing incorrectness' and using 'correction techniques'. When the teacher wants to show incorrectness he simply indicates to the student that a mistake has been made. Harmer (Ibid.) suggests many techniques for showing incorrectness. First, the teacher may simply ask the student to repeat as a sign that his answer was unsatisfactory. Second, the teacher may echo the student's statement with a questioning intonation. Finally, the teacher may state explicitly that the student's statement is incorrect.

Now that the student is aware that he has made a mistake, there are various correction techniques to follow. Following Lewis and Hill (Ibid.) I first give the student the chance for self-correction. The latter is conducive to real understanding and learning. If the student fails to correct himself then I invite the whole class to think about a possible correction. This procedure has the merit of involving the whole class in the learning process. Even when the whole class fails to correct I tried not to be discouraged. Rather, I try to help students by isolating the mistake so as to concentrate their attention on it and ease the correction procedure. Last, if all the attempts fail then the teacher provides the correct form. It should be noted that correction will depend on the type of task at hand. Therefore, error correction will be more expected in an accuracy based task than in a fluency based one. Anyway, I made sure that correction should proceed progressively from self, peer and ultimately teacher correction allowing the needed 'wait time'.

Teacher vs. student's roles

Harmer (1983) identifies different roles that a teacher can perform within the classroom. Hence, the teacher can act as a controller. In other words, he is in complete charge of the class. He can be an assessor who sees how well the students are performing by providing either positive or negative feedback. He can be an organizer. Indeed, he initiates activities and provides the needed instructions, which are required to be clear for the student. The teacher has also the important role of encouraging students to participate in discussions providing them with the needed suggestions and prompts. He also participates as any other student in the activities in the class. Finally, the teacher stands as a resource always ready to offer help if needed by students.

In the same vein, in recent approaches, the student adopts different roles. Indeed, Breen and Candlin (1980) describe the learner's role in communicative language teaching as follows:

The role of the learner as negotiator- between the self, the learning process, and the object of learning- emerges from and interacts with the role of joint negotiator within the group and within the classroom procedures and activities which the group undertakes. The implication of the learner is that he should contribute as much as he gains, and thereby learn in an interdependent way.

(Cited in Richards and Rogers, 1986)

This quotation implies that this approach is a learner-centered one where the student is no longer a passive recipient; rather he is an active actor in the learning process.