The Humanistic Perspective on Classroom Management

Last Updated: 17 Aug 2022
Pages: 9 Views: 2795

The humanistic perspective on classroom management. In the education world of today, it is understood that one can only be effective in teaching by taking into consideration the different learning styles of students. In a classroom, it is expected that teachers would want their students to acquire a meaningful knowledge base, become proficient problem solvers and learn how to work productively with others (Biehler and Snowman, 2006, p. 370). If this is the case, teachers need to know how to be able to develop this situation in the classroom and make it more conducive to learning.

Therefore, it would seem that they need to encourage students to converse with each other with group discussions and assignments, to make sure they are active in the class, physically as well as mentally, and that they as teachers are rational and firm authority figures in the classroom. The concept of a well-managed classroom would be equivalent to the picture painted here, where students may be interested, motivated and eager to learn. The humanistic approach to teaching is one that is centered on the student.

How the student feels and how able they are to relate to what is being taught is most important. This theory believes that if a student can understand how they learn and their behavior in relation to it, and that the classroom can support this behavior, they are more motivated to learn (Biehler and Snowman, 2006, p. 372). The humanistic approach is one that helps students believe in themselves and their potential; it encourages compassion and understanding that fosters self-respect and respect for others.

Order custom essay The Humanistic Perspective on Classroom Management with free plagiarism report

feat icon 450+ experts on 30 subjects feat icon Starting from 3 hours delivery
Get Essay Help

As human beings we all have an innate desire to attain our full potential and achieve what we can to the best of our abilities. This approach shows the appealing idea that students can learn on their terms, or the way they want to, as the instruction in the classroom is geared towards their needs. The humanistic perspective seems to suggest that students would have a more positive outlook on education if it was approached in this manner, and there are a lot of people, students included, who support the view also.

In terms of instruction, one can see the importance teachers place, or rather should place on reflection; they must constantly be thinking of how to make their teaching better. When thinking about self-improvement, good teachers have to develop their own personal strategies based on existing theories and models; they then utilize those strategies to make decisions in the actual classroom setting. The humanistic perspective in education, seeks to enhance how the basics of reading, writing, computing, vocational skills, problem-solving and decision-making work, by going beyond what is seen as basic (van Zolingen, 2002, p. 19). Humanists know that these skills are necessary and therefore their main interest should be how to get their students to be interested and motivated enough to develop these basic skills. One of the strongest reasons for supporting humanistic education is that, when done effectively, students learn. If a student feels that the teacher is genuinely concerned about them, accepts and values them and their opinions in the class, they would more likely open up to the teacher and express any concerns they might have.

For example, if a student is failing a class, automatically teachers try to tell him or her how to study and prepare for the next test. A teacher following the humanistic perspective would rather, talk to the student about their interest in the subject, what they understand, how they study and even if the teacher’s methods are effective for them. This can better help students to understand their feelings and their role in learning (Biehler and Snowman, 2006, p. 373). It is evident, how this perspective focuses on the student and encourages them to learn by their standards.

Considerable evidence shows that cooperative learning structures higher self-concepts, and the student's motivation and interest in learning are related to greater academic achievement. Three different types of parenting styles are integrated into classroom for more effective teaching. These are the authoritarian, the permissive and the authoritative (Biehler and Snowman, 2006, p. 423). The authoritarian style is on one extreme end, where teachers apply strict rules and expect students to follow them without question and where nothing is negotiable.

Their focus then, is not the student but getting compliance from the student, who would be rewarded or punished accordingly. The permissive style is on the other extreme and is as the name suggests. There are hardly any rules and the teacher simply desires the student to identify with and respect him or her. How the student learns and motivating them to do so is not the main priority. The style that is deemed best and superior to the other two is the authoritative.

This style is adopted by teachers who desire autonomy in their students. They develop rules and classroom norms and explain them to the students, rather than force them to do as they say. This attitude encourages the students to realize how adapting to this behavior will allow them to learn more, which of course, is the main priority of the humanistic teacher. It is possible to say that humanistic education integrated with the authoritative parenting style can lead to fewer discipline problems, both at home and in the classroom.

Many parents desire their children to listen more respectfully, choose less impulsively, calm down when overexcited, learn to be assertive without being aggressive and manage their time better. Many humanistic education methods teach students how to do these things. "Effectiveness training" for example, teaches students how to really listen to others, including parents and "values clarification" teach students to "thoughtfully consider the consequences" of their decisions (Green, 1994). Several humanistic education approaches teach students to relax and control their nervous energy and to plan and take more responsibility for their time.

Humanistic educators often report that parents have told them how good communication was increased in their families as a result of some of the class activities and new skills the students learned. One of the pioneers of the humanistic approach is Abraham Maslow. He studied both behavioral and psychoanalytic psychology, but he rejected the idea that human behavior is controlled only by internal or only by external forces. Instead, Maslow developed a theory he called "humanistic psychology," based on his belief that human behavior is controlled by a combination of internal and external factors (DeMarco, 1998).

His studies led him to believe that people have certain physiological and psychological needs that are unchanging, identical in all cultures and genetic in origin. Maslow described these needs as being hierarchical in nature and classified them as either "basic" needs, which are low on the hierarchy, or "growth" needs, which are high on the hierarchy. According to Maslow, an individual must satisfy lower-level basic needs before attempting to meet higher-level growth needs. The basic needs are instinctual needs for food, shelter and safety.

Once these necessities of life have been satisfied, higher needs such as understanding, aesthetics and spirituality become important. Maslow called the highest-level need "self-actualization" and claimed that it could not be attained unless all the needs below it on the hierarchy had been met. Self-actualization is “the movement toward full development of one’s potential talents and capabilities” (Biehler and Snowman, 2006, p. 543). Most people want to move up the hierarchy toward self-actualization. Unfortunately, the process often is disrupted by a failure to meet lower-level needs.

In the classroom, teachers can motivate students to move through the levels and attain self-actualization by understanding how the learning process relates to Maslow's hierarchy of needs (DeMarco, 1998). Maslow's theory of self-actualization describes how highly effective people reach their peak level of performance. Educators can respond to the potential an individual has for growing into a self-actualizing person of his or her own by applying Maslow's motivational theories to the learning process. In most cases, an individual must satisfy lower-level, basic needs before progressing on to higher-level needs.

Even the most inspirational educator will not be able to reach a student whose lower-level needs are not being met. Educators cannot assume that all students' basic needs have been met and that it is safe to focus only on higher-level growth needs. Even if a student achieves a certain level on Maslow's hierarchy, life experiences such as a death or divorce in the family may cause an individual to revert to a lower level. Physiological needs are the most basic. If a student is too cold, sleepy, hungry or has an urgent need to use the restroom, he or she will not be able to learn effectively.

Teachers can help students meet their basic needs by ensuring that the classroom temperature is comfortable, by giving students breaks during long classes or clinical sessions and by ensuring convenient access to food and drink. After an individual's physiological needs have been met, he or she next focuses on safety needs. A student who is worried about the health or safety of a family member, foe example, cannot perform effectively. It is suggested that students be allowed breaks or the chance to go home and see to personal emergencies when need be. Next in the hierarchy is the need for love and belonging.

Maslow points out that "belonging was an essential and prerequisite human need that had to be met before one could ever achieve a sense of self-worth" (Kunc, 1992). For instance, a student who is made to feel welcome, and to feel like he or she belongs in the classroom, would be more likely to perform well than one who does not have a sense of belonging. Having group discussions and sessions where the students in the class can associate and relate to each other can then promote a unified whole, and give students more of an opportunity to fit in and feel accepted. This then, in its own way promotes learning.

In addition to this though, students do not merely want to be accepted alone. The ego is the next step in Maslow's hierarchy, which relates to the fact that students also want to be heard, appreciated and wanted. They need to be encouraged by the teacher, or to have the teacher acknowledge their efforts and praise them for at least trying. If a student is frustrated in the classroom or feels inferior, it will hinder their learning. The final level, self-actualization, is defined by Maslow as "the full use and exploitation of one's talents, capacities and potentialities" (Tennant, 1997, p. 3). Maslow believed that only 1 in 10 individuals become fully self-actualized, owing to the fact that our society primarily rewards people based on esteem, love and social status. In contrast to this, his theory emphasized that a person's idea of self-actualization can be anything that they want it to be. If a person desired to be class president, owner of a prestigious law firm or a manager in a store; wherever their desire lies, he believed that a person would do all that is possible to get to that point, and thus, attain self-actualization.

Again, one can see how the teacher can encourage this in the classroom. A teacher, from his or her own perspective, can identify the strengths of the students in their classroom and encourage or motivate them to build on these strengths, thus helping them on their way to self-actualization and a new level of learning. The humanistic approach seems to be the most agreeable of theories in teaching techniques. Many share the opinion that a student can truly learn if they have a meaningful relationship with the teacher and also with other students in the class.

Students are more behaved and inclined to learn if they feel that their teacher is capable and they can respect him or her, and also, when this respect is reciprocated. The structure of classroom management should be facilitated by the teacher, agreed upon by both students and teacher, be open to revision, and be flexible to accommodate for growth and change in the needs of all classroom participants (DePonte, 2005). The humanistic approach allows one to recognize that part of mplementing any form of classroom management means to distinguish that “learning” is generated not only through textbooks and lesson plans, but also through interaction and communication prompted as a result of the social learning environment built-in to our classrooms. Therefore, it would seem that the ultimate goal of classroom management is for the teacher to prepare his or her students for socialization in the “real” world.

The humanistic perspective proves idealistic for instigating and maintaining acceptable “social learning” boundaries by the means of practical application (DePonte, 2005). For example, if a student demonstrates misbehavior in the classroom, instead of a teacher using verbal or physical punishment, he or she should communicate with the student, to give them the opportunity to realize their errors. The teacher can then guide the student towards a self-realization of consequences, and towards a plan for self-improvement.

In this democratic society, it can only be concluded that by mutually agreeing upon rules with the students, a teacher is being proactive by encouraging students to practice self-discipline through collaboration of behavioral rules, and through promoting awareness and respect of their individual differences.


  1. Biehler, R & Snowman, J. (2006). Psychology applied to teaching (11th ed. ). New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. DePonte, Steve. (2005).
  2. Classroom management plan. Retrieved November 20, 2008 from http://www. calstatela. edu/faculty/jshindl/cm/DePonteCMP. htm Green, Bob. (1994).
  3. What humanistic education is... nd is not. Retrieved November 23, 2008 from http://www. humanistsofutah. org/1994/art2jun94. html Kunc, Norman. (1992).
  4. The need to belong: rediscovering Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Retrieved November 20, 2008 from http://www. normemma. com/armaslow. htm Mary Lou DeMarco. (1998).
  5. Maslow in the classroom and the clinic. Radiologic Technology. Retrieved on November 22, 2008 from http://findarticles. com/p/articles/mi_hb3387/is_n1_v70/ai_n28711330 Tennant, Mark. (1997).
  6. Psychology and adult learning. Routledge. Van Zolingen, S. J. (2002). The role of key qualifications in the transition from vocational

Cite this Page

The Humanistic Perspective on Classroom Management. (2018, May 12). Retrieved from

Don't let plagiarism ruin your grade

Run a free check or have your essay done for you

plagiarism ruin image

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Save time and let our verified experts help you.

Hire writer