The Learning Craft

Curriculum with Rhoda



Curriculum with Rhoda Odigboh

Humanistic Learning – A case for infusing this Learning Theory to your Curriculum

It’s definitely not a barrage of ‘grammar’, so stay with me.

There are many learning theorists. They come from Psychology and Philosophy backgrounds. They have greatly influenced what we know to be Education today.

Some of the most famous ones include Gardner, Dewey, Maslow, Skinner, Piaget and Thorndike – all Psychologists.

As a matter of fact, it is very easy to posit that the field of Teaching and Education as a core field has no known theory. I mean that no known theory can be said to have come out from Education or Teaching. Education has borrowed almost all of its learning theories from other fields of thoughts.

I digress.

Pardon me….that up there is a lot to break down so I won’t.

The major learning theories we apply are under these three:

1. Behavioural Learning – where we learn by doing and observing others. Here, reinforcement is essential for learning to occur etc…

2. Cognitive Developmental Learning – where cognitive stages of development are related to age. It is sequential and based on previous growth etc…

I’ll take time out to break the above on the next article but for today I’m making a case for the third one.

3. Humanistic Learning.


See what happens here. So you quickly understand why in teaching today’s learners, we just must be mindful the direction and activities involved in our curriculum design and development.

1. Teachers are sensitive to the student’s world not just the adult world.

2. Learners are viewed as individuals, with diverse needs, abilities and aptitudes.

3. Learner’s self-concept and self esteem are considered as essential factors in learning.

4. Learning is considered HOLISTIC….not COGNITIVE, the act of learning involves emotion, feelings, and motor dependent skills so your objectives must ALWAYS reflect these.

5. Learning is predicated on warm, friendly, and DEMOCRATIC STUDENT-TEACHER INTERACTIONS, coercive and strict disciplinary measures are minimized (haaaa….controversial in this part of the world but I can argue this out).

6. The processes (QUALITY) of learning is considered very important (in many cases more important) than products (QUANTITY) of learning. Basically teachers nurture learning. Don’t get me wrong here. Your curriculum must be deep and wide but dealt with through the eyes of skill mastery rather than skill coverage.

7. Learning is based on life experiences, discovery, exploring and experimenting. No excuses here, experiments must be conducted at all times….yes…all times for every concept taught.

For the students.

8. Students share ideas, work together, tutor and help each other (often called cooperative learning). They use:
– homogenous grouping
– academic tracking
I will explain the above in the next article also.

For another controversial one, competitive testing or programs are minimized.


This is not to say there will be no competitions. Students will be tutored to compete in cooperative forms.

The pursuit of excellence is keyed into aptitudes and abilities; future work and life skills in form of collaboration is celebrated. Google RON CLARK ACADEMY to understand how Humanistic Learning is interpreted.

We are not machines, and the mind is not a computer. Humans are biological beings influenced by their biology and culture; we also influence our biology and cultures. Our intellect is an ever changing dynamic complex.

9. Students are given choices (with limitations) and freedom (with responsibilities). Choices and freedom are related to maturity level and age of the students.

10. Learning is based on life experiences. On discovery, exploration and of course experimentation.

Know this. Your curriculum determines this. It sets the path to succeed in infusing Humanistic Learning. It’s all about what is stipulated in there.

Is it human compliant?
Is it nature compliant?
Is it experience compliant?
Is it self-discovery compliant?

Dwell on these questions as you ponder on what to improve or infuse in your curriculum? That’s where the magic begins.

It’s what I do. Our goal as curricularists should be to create educational programs that will nurture more advanced, more total, more complete human learning.
Rhoda Odigboh
Curriculum Theorist/Curator

Content specialist charged with the collection and interpretation of curriculum documents.