“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom. Without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail.”
― Albert Einstein
The name Carl Rogers is familiar to teachers as well, since nurturing is deeply connected to the person-centered approach initiated by the world-famous psychologist. Pedagogy – from kindergarten to university – is perhaps the most important tool for the future generation to be able to live a happier life in a fairer, more humane society. The child-centered perspective represented by Rogers created the term and claim of student-centered school. The biggest realization is that we can help the other person’s improvement if we are honestly ourselves, unconditionally and completely accept the other, and empathetically understand what they want to communicate to us. If the teacher has managed to acquire this attitude, they can become the facilitator of learning and learn together with their students.
Numerous surveys examining of hundreds of teachers and thousands of students confirm that if the teacher is authentic, understanding, nurturing, then students learn more easily the bases of writing, reading, counting, and more importantly, they become more creative and their problem solving skills improve.
The student-centered school
· Creating an atmosphere of trust in school is extremely important. The environment where children spend their lives must be a livable, familiar, loveable place.
· An environment where experimentation, curiosity, inquiry don’t fade, the natural excitement of learning remains intact.
· The students’ confidence is healthy, they are not afraid of their teacher, humiliation, scolding, failure.
· Intellectual enthusiasm as well as emotional are both values that children learn to make good use of.
· Diversity is acceptable and natural: children don’t learn negative discriminatory attitudes.
· Conflicts are a part of life, even life in the classroom. Children learn to argue intelligently, they are not afraid to express their negative emotions either: the safe, accepting atmosphere creates opportunities to confrontation.
· The teacher is able to catalyze the students’ intrinsic motivation, the process of learning, developing.
· The teacher is a part of the processes, not their “controller”. This way s/he can participate in the communication, and by facilitating the children’s interactions with each other the school can become a group of cooperating, helping and supporting members.
In most places in Hungary teachers still teach by the old, Prussian way. In this approach frontal education dominates, the teacher gives a lecture that the kids study and give back. There are homework and give-and-take, where the child’s intake capacity, not their personality dominates. Even though the child-centered teaching methods are popular in teacher trainings, the just graduated young teachers, despite all their enthusiasm, get into a very stiff system, where experimentation in practice and cooperating with colleagues is rather difficult. Many times they come across education policy debates and already disappointed children who became ’enemies’ with the school.
However, child-centered perspective is expanding, and we believe that with authentic, honest behavior the values we represent can be passed on. Every child who spends their student years full of expeditions and excitement in such an atmosphere, unfolding their abilities, can start life with healthy self-esteem and good self-knowledge. This environment can be realized through the teacher’s behavior and personality, and their perspective on the child. In most cases those who participate in teachers’ trainings can only imagine this environment, but never experienced it in practice. Seminars and teaching practices don’t provide the opportunity to feel for themselves, as participants, how liberating and desirable it is to express our true selves, be honest and congruent, and what reactions this attitude triggers in the other person.
The helping, keeping, accepting and creating power of the encounter group is something that – with a facilitator approach instead of the educator attitude – can be realized with a student group as well. Really intense self-knowledge processes are going on in the workshops.
How could I be a good teacher?
Behind this question millions of new questions lie. We can investigate our motives, and light can be shed to ingrained bad strategies, value questions, conflicts dating back to early experiences. In many cases if someone comes to the workshop with prepared questions and a set goal, the experiences here catalyze their search for the road leading to solution. So we recommend the workshop to every helper and teacher colleague who agrees that authentic, honest and congruent attitude can help those who work through empathy and communication.