Fifty Modern Thinkers on Education: From Piaget to the Present Day

By Joy A. Palmer | Go to book overview

CARL ROGERS 1902-87

As I began to trust students…I changed from being a teacher and evaluator, to being a facilitator of learning. 1

Carl Rogers' was an important American psychologist whose name became synonymous with non-directive therapy and education. He developed a subjective, phenomenological approach to counselling that centred on the idea of the self-actualized individual. These ideas offered a significant alternative to the behaviourist and psychoanalytic models of therapy that were available at the time and they were also congruent with certain non-directive approaches to education.

Rogers was born on 8 January 1902 in Oak Park, Illinois. He was the fourth child of a family of five boys and one girl. His parents were fundamentalist Christians who kept to themselves and taught their children strict rules of behaviour and the importance of hard work. 2 By the time he was in his second year at the University of Wisconsin, Rogers had decided to become a minister and later he attended graduate school at the Union Theological Seminary in New York where his interaction with a broad range of people persuaded him that he could not limit himself to a religious vocation and as a result he enrolled in Teachers College, Columbia University where he received his degree in 1931. At Columbia, he was influenced by the ideas of John Dewey, Leta Hollingworth and William Kilpatrick. 3

Rogers' first position was as a psychologist at a community guidance clinic in Rochester, New York. There he was exposed to the ideas of the renegade psychoanalyst, Otto Rank and Rank's follower Jessica Taft. Rank made a complete break with Freud's ideas about the self-contained mind motivated by unconscious aggressive and sexual drives. Although ostracized by the original Freudian circle because he rejected the idea that Oedipal issues were the psychological bedrock, he was the original object relations theorist. For him, the primary relationship was with the mother and the individual's emotional life stems from this source. It is affect rather than intellectual insight that provides opportunity for learning and understanding. This means that it is not the therapist's authoritarian interpretation that cures but the therapist's empathy. The therapist's understanding and acceptance is essential to the establishment of self-worth. It is through the present therapeutic relationship that thwarted development can become remobilized. He equated growth with change in the self.

Although Rogers' thinking was not as complex or rich as Rank's, his work clearly reflects Rank's ideas about a continually changing self that develops and grows toward individuality within the context of an empathic accepting relationship. Rank's own career, and his expulsion from the Freudian dominated psychoanalytic community is reflected in Rogers' rejection of Freudian psychology and his greater openness to the clients' own interpretive framework. Hence, instead of the client-talk being seen as a means to the revelation that the therapist had in mind all the time, Rogers understands the client as providing the key to the therapeutic process. The function of the therapist thus was more midwife than scientist.

Rogers also had a more traditional scientific side to his work. He

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Fifty Modern Thinkers on Education: From Piaget to the Present Day
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Contents viii
  • Preface xiv
  • A.S.Neill 1883-1973 1
  • Notes 5
  • Notes 14
  • Notes 27
  • Further Reading 28
  • Notes 32
  • Notes 37
  • Notes 48
  • Carl Rogers 1902-87 49
  • Notes 53
  • Ralph Winifred Tyler 1902-94 54
  • Harry Broudy 1905-98 64
  • Notes 68
  • Further Reading 69
  • Benjamin S.Bloom 1913-99 86
  • Note 89
  • Further Reading 96
  • Notes 117
  • Further Reading 118
  • Notes 140
  • Notes 153
  • Michel Foucault 1926-84 170
  • Donaldson's Major Writings 181
  • Illich's Major Writings 188
  • Further Reading 193
  • Notes 203
  • Nel Noddings 1929- 210
  • Noddings' Major Writings 215
  • Notes 222
  • Notes 228
  • Notes 233
  • Theodore R.Sizer 1932- 241
  • Elliot Eisner 1933- 247
  • Notes 251
  • Lee S.Shulman 1938- 257
  • Notes 270
  • Henry Giroux 1943- 280
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