Humanistic Psychology in the Schools

By:  Sam Blumenfeld
08/03/2012
       
Humanistic Psychology in the Schools

The cultural upheavals of the 1960s saw the rise of a so-called Third Force in American education. The leading figures of the Third Force were humanist psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. Maslow had worked on sexological research under the auspices of Edward L. Thorndike from 1935 to 1937. Thorndike had developed the purely behaviorist teaching method of SR, stimulus-response, which reduced education to a form of animal training. But eventually Maslow rebelled against such pure behaviorism. As for his sexological research, feminist Betty Friedan believed that Maslow’s findings helped advance the feminist approach to psychology. Maslow, trained in behavioral psychology, began to moderate it with his own theory of self-actualization.

The cultural upheavals of the 1960s saw the rise of a so-called Third Force in American education. The leading figures of the Third Force were humanist psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. Maslow had worked on sexological research under the auspices of Edward L. Thorndike from 1935 to 1937. Thorndike had developed the purely behaviorist teaching method of SR, or stimulus-response, which reduced education to a form of animal training. But eventually Maslow rebelled against such pure behaviorism. As for his sexological research, feminist Betty Friedan believed that Maslow’s findings helped advance the feminist approach to psychology. Maslow, trained in behavioral psychology, began to moderate it with his own theory of self-actualization.

Maslow, born in New York of a Jewish immigrant family in 1908, rejected religion early in life because he associated it with a mother he detested. He wrote in later years:

I always wondered where my utopianism, ethical stress, humanism, stress on kindness, love, friendship, and all the rest came from. I knew certainly of the direct consequences of having no mother-love. But the whole thrust of my life-philosophy and all my research and theorizing also has its roots in a hatred for and revulsion against everything she stood for.

Utopianism, which is a departure from reality in favor of some fantasy of a perfect world, has done more damage to America than any of us can calculate. Mark Levin, in his book Ameritopia, writes (page 4):

Utopianism is irrational in theory and practice, for it ignores or attempts to control the planned and unplanned complexity of the individual, his nature, and mankind generally. It ignores, rejects, or perverts the teachings and knowledge that have come before — that is, man’s historical, cultural, and social experience and development. Indeed, utopianism seeks to break what the hugely influential eighteenth-century British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke argued was the societal continuum “between those who are living and those who are dead and those who are to be born.”

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Sam Blumenfeld (photo)

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