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humanistic approaches


Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214823.1999.x


The meaning of humanistic as used in the literature of language teaching, especially in the United States, is only tenuously connected with the usual understandings of that word. Indeed, the terms humanism, humanist and humanistic are applied subjectively in the literature, but those employing them convey by humanism and humanistic approaches language teaching respecting the integrity of learners, allowing for personal growth and responsibility, taking psychological and affective factors into account and representing ‘Whole-person learning’. Difficulties with the term ‘humanism’ itself are attested to even by one of its best-known supporters, Stevick (1982 ; 7ff.). ‘Humanism’ is also a reaction against teaching not perceived to entertain similar priorities, and use of the term in this context may have come about to mark opposition to ‘dehumanizing’ influences. Moskowitz (1978), for example, quotes the following from ‘psychologist Arthur W, Combs’: Teachers have long been expert in providing information … Our major failures do not arise from lack of information. They come from … our inability to help students discover the personal meaning of the information we so extravagantly provide them … Our preoccupation with … information … has dehumanized our schools, alienated our youth, and produced a system irrelevant for most students. ‘Humanistic’ approaches are not confined ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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