Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

Person-to-Person Learning: A Form of Creativity in Education

Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

Person-to-Person Learning: A Form of Creativity in Education

Article excerpt

In this article, the authors present an approach to developing creativity through meaningful learning relationships that involve art, literature, dialogue, and experience. They present a model of creative teaching, Person-to-Person Learning, that includes a 3-stage process: (a) constructing the creative space, (b) engaging the learning theme, and (c) thematic closure.


Fundamental to development is the opportunity for relationship (Bowen, 1978; Frankl, 1963; Minuchin, 1974; Satir, 1964). Education, a primary environment of development, involves a relationship between teacher and student and between students themselves (Rogers, 1969). Person-to-Person Learning, the intervention described in this article, uses creativity to form rich relationships, relationships that can engage the content of education while helping students develop a positive concept of sell others, and the world. Person-to-Person Learning is a term that we coined and that forms a nexus of Carl Rogers's thoughts on a person-centered approach in counseling and Murray Bowen's thoughts on the person-to-person approach in family systems work (Bowen, 1978; Christensen, 1988; Gottman, 1990; Guthrie & Noller, 1988; Levenson & Gottman, 1983; Noller & Fitzpatrick, 1990; Rogers, 1969; Satir, Banmen, Gerber, & Gomori, 1991).

The closing years of the 20th century posed serious challenges to conventional understandings of teaching, learning, and assessment (Guttman, 2005; Holton & Goroff, 1995). Until recently, the American education system often operated predominantly on a "factory model" (Darling-Hammond, 1995; Gonzales & Nelson, 2005; Rogoff, Paradise, Arauz, Correa-Chavez, & Angelillo, 2003; Sparzo, Bruning, Vargas, & Gilman, 1998). At its worst, this meant that subject areas were rigidly separated; that students passively received knowledge from lectures and textbooks; and that even within the discipline, material was often taught chapter by chapter, with few relationships drawn. Instructional methods were heavily weighted toward lectures, rote memorization, and drills focused on basic skills.

Acknowledging the power of this historical and often tenacious factory model, Portman (1993) argued that despite continued critique and efforts to reform practices of pedagogy, little significant change has occurred. It can be said that styles of teaching have largely persisted in their present mode for more than 30 years, a mode that often evokes a reflection of pedagogy too closely tied to the factory or assembly line model.

Channon (1999), Gillis (1981), and Ingram (1989) documented the continued effort toward reform, specifically with regard to training teachers, while acknowledging the difficulty of changing educational systems that are traditionally resistant to change. The resultant present structure of teacher preparation in education is familiar, not necessarily lacking in depth, but familiar and perhaps too closely aligned with a history that arose from transactional, authoritarian, and more mechanized (or factory-based) outputs. Similar to the structure hinted at by Channon (1999) nearly 30 years ago, the largely linear and traditional structure of teacher preparation can still be traced today: a university with a 4-year undergraduate program in which aspiring teachers learn subject matter and gain methodological and practical information, followed by being preservice teachers and engaging in a practicum supervised by master teachers already in the field.

In the factory model the working atmosphere is often competitive rather than cooperative. Assessment leans heavily on end-of-chapter, multiple-choice, and true-false tests and standardized assessments. Correct answers are often valued over creativity, risk taking, and deeper understanding of concepts. Under this system, learners from less linear, less standard-driven cultures (e.g., Native American and African American) have often not fared well. …

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