Academic journal article Education

New Third Force Psychology Promises to Reduce the Growing Prison Population through Student-Centered High Schools

Academic journal article Education

New Third Force Psychology Promises to Reduce the Growing Prison Population through Student-Centered High Schools

Article excerpt

The third force in psychology organized in the 1960's after world War II, largely by Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, provides an orientation away from rats and sick patients towards the fully functioning human being as "humanistic psychology." It replaces first force psychology based on behaviorism and the stimulus response theory, which has been largely discredited, and has borrowed heavily from second force psychology, where the focus is on neurotic and psychotic patients, and psychoanalysis is the functioning methodology. Humanistic psychology seeks to foster emotional development within the individual, improve interpersonal relations, and create means to enhance the self-actualizing person through a cognitive based goal-setting and goal-striving process. (Taylor, 1992, and Cassel, 1974). It gives promise to deal effectively with reducing our growing prison population that threatens to destroy our democracy through student-centered high schools.

Urgent Need for Student-Centered High School

In the newly emerging person-centered high schools, a guidance center must focus squarely on prevention of destructive student behavior that serves as the basis for the four major social problems that threaten to destroy democracy -- The "nation at risk" report of 1983 made it clear that schools must change if democracy is to survive (Reily, 1983).

1. Loss of voluntary controls--coffee, alcohol, drugs, and gambling,

2. Divorce and the break-up of the family unit in America,

3. School dropout both at the high school and college levels, and

4. The staggering prison population that is growing at an unprecedented rate.

Role of the Person-Centered High School

The typical individual in the United States enters high school (9th grade) during the 14th year of life -- typically in a crisis state of emotional and social development. The principal function of our high schools, then, is to "build abridge" between the home and the work place or college. It is during this period when the social foundation is developing for adult life that follows. The role of the Guidance Counselor and the School Psychologist must seek to implement effective educational programs to deal with the early social development of voluntary control through a meaningful process of goal setting; which serves as the primary foundation for all personal striving. If the high school is to serve as a bridge from the home to the work place, scientifically developed and tested job-career plans before 11th grade must become a reality. Upon entering into high school during the 9th grade each and every student must learn their three high career interest activities and their three low ones; so that meaningful job-career planning can begin. In a democracy, all personal goals are tentative and subject to change; for they are basic building blocks of social structures and human freedom. The "nation at risk" clearly shows that the four social problems that threaten our democracy are intimately related to an absence of developed and tested personal life goals--"Research clearly shows that those students with clearly defined goals and a sense of `direction' are more likely to persist and attain a college degree." (p. 42-Reily, 1983).

Cognitive Dissonance

The basic roots for compulsive behavior and the loss of voluntary control are derived directly from the presence of extreme cognitive dissonance lying deep in the unconscious. Festinger (1957) described cognitive dissonance as feelings of discontent and pain. Many adolescent youth in our nation's high schools display unacceptable socialization behavior to relieve such cognitive dissonance. Typically, youth, in their spurt growing years, engage in a mad-like pursuit to achieve adult status. The use of harmful behaviors such as cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and gambling characterize achieving adult status, and often become the substitute for an absence of scientifically developed and tested job-career plans. …

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