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Humanistic Self-instruction : R. Craig Hogan

Humanistic Self-instruction : R. Craig Hogan

Postprzez Klementyna Glińska » Wt gru 09, 2008 5:26 pm

R. Craig Hogan
Humanistic Self-Instruction

w: College Composition and Communication, Vol. 29, No. 3
(Oct., 1978), pp. 261-263


We are concerned with the learner\'s individuality and uniqueness. Our intervention in the lives of other human beings is most humanistic when, as Chris Argyris suggests, we see them and they see themselves as autonomous, responsible individuals committed to the direction the intervention is taking, making free choices based on sufficient valid information about the means and ends.

When the intervener ignores the autonomy and individuality of the person, coerces the person to do what he or she is not committed to doing, and permits no choices or only choices based on faulty, incomplete or biased information, the intervention is least humanistic. Whether instruction is humanistic or not, then, is determined by the roles of the learner and the instructor. When instruction is least humanistic, the instructor takes all responsibility for the instruction, ignores the students\' unique needs, and does not permit them to become committed to the means or ends of the instruction. The instruction is most humanistic when the student is permitted to act as an autonomous, free, committed individual, choosing which objectives to attain or how to attain them or when or at what pace or with what resources, and so on. The more decisions the student makes as a committed, autonomous individual, the more individual and humanistic the instruction.

That is not meant to imply that students in the most humanistic classroom make every decision at every moment of the instructional process. A class- room with an autocratic instructor is humanistic if students understand the direction suggested by the instructor and are committed to it and the ends it will attain or if they understand the ends and agree to submit to any means the instructor suggests because of their confidence in the instructor. Students who enroll in Dr. Johnson\'s course because they know she is autocratic and dictatorial but knowledgeable and respected are being taught humanistically they make the free, informed choice of this mode of instruction as autonomous individuals and are com- mitted to the choice.

In the least humanistic classroom, bright and dull, dependent and independent, industrious and sluggard, are all fed the same fare at the same rate in the same way because there is no alternative way of obtaining it. That classroom suppresses individuality, autonomy, and freedom by stifling students\' initiative to manage their own learning at every level of responsibility they might be able and willing to assume. The more humanistic classroom, while retaining structured, teacher-centered instruction for those who need it, also contains provisions that allow and encourage more self-directed learners to learn at a faster pace or allow learners to learn in a different mode or with others or alone, beyond the assignment or instead of it. Materials in this humanistic classroom are available at all times so that as students learn self-management skills and become more interested in learning to write effectively, they can go to the resources and learn on their own initiative. Some of the materials are highly structured and linear, with explicit directions for students who have poorly developed reading or study skills but are committed to learning. Others are resources as they exist in the world, not structured to facilitate learning, for students able to learn from unstructured materials.

The materials that foster humanistic instruction, that encourage students to become independent, industrious, committed learners to the extent they can and wish, are self-instructional materials.

Self-instructional materials are not replacements for autocratic, teacher-centered instruction. Instead, they are supplements that encourage individual initiative, autonomy, and responsibility for students who can use and wish to use them. When students freely choose any mode of instruction because they are committed to learning a skill, the mode enhances humanistic instruction. When any mode of instruction is forced upon students without their understanding or commitment to the mode or ends, the instruction is less humanistic, whether the mode is lecture, programed instruction, group discussion, field trip, or discovery. The distinction lies in the roles of student and instructor, not in the nature of the materials.

The modes of instruction that are often termed self-instructional are only so when the roles of the student and teacher are such that they are used in that way. If a programed text is used in a classroom by all students reading items aloud at the demand of the teacher, then the text is not self-instructional. On the other hand, if the student is given the free choice to come to class or not and chooses to come to a lecture because it pertains to a skill on which the student is working, then the lecture is part of the student\'s self-instruction.

The more structured materials, such as programed materials, that are care- fully designed to insure that students learn the skills whether they have well-developed reading and study skills or not are criticized because they are linear and leave no room for discovery or creativity. Actually, however, all purposeful instruction is linear, including texts, lectures, films, and even field trips. The concepts taught are not chaotically or unsystematically presented. Instead, they are carefully arranged from simple to complex or by their position in space or by chronology or by the intention of facilitating discovery or by some peculiar structure of knowledge inherent in the content. In all cases, the learner must proceed from beginning to end through a course that the instructor, facilitator, or author has previously plotted.

As with instruction using other modes, the ends attained through the use of structured, self-instructional materials, become means for ascending to the more creative, individual, higher-order expression that would be inaccessible to students without the basic, uniform skills. Such creativity can only be encouraged and facilitated, not taught as are algebraic equations. Our instruction can only provide the raw materials that may result in individual, creative products. Structured materials insure that those basic skills are learned quickly and efficiently so students can more easily use those skills to find their own creative, individual style with encouragement and criticism from the instructor.

When students are taking the responsibility for learning as autonomous individuals, are committed to learning, and have made the free, informed choice to engage in it, the instruction is most humanistic, whether the instruction is free discussion, lecture, programed learning, or any other. The most humanistic classroom contains resources to which students can go if they are committed to learning a particular skill and have made the choice to learn it regardless of whether the instructor is available or the class instruction is dealing with the skill.

The carefully designed materials that enable students at various levels of interest and self-management ability to take as much responsibility for their learning as they are willing and able to take are self-instructional materials.
Klementyna Glińska
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