Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Se. M. Ed, Ph.D

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

The four characteristics of humanism are curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race.
~E. M. Forster

There are many theories in education that have been drawn from psychology some of these have to do with teaching and others with learning. Humanism is one theory that has been used in both teaching and learning. Humanism is a belief that that individuals control their  own destinies through the application of their  intelligence and learning.

“A system of thought that centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth.”American Heritage Dictionary.

The term “humanism” is ambiguous. Around 1806 humanismus was used to describe the classical curriculum offered by German schools, and by 1836 “humanism” was borrowed into English in this sense. In 1856, the great German historian and philologist Georg Voigt used humanism to describe Renaissance Humanism, the movement that flourished in the Italian Renaissance to revive classical learning,  This historical and literary use of the word “humanist” derives from the 15th century Italian term umanista, meaning a teacher or scholar of Classical Greek and Latin literature and the ethical philosophy behind it

The word “humanism” has a number of meanings, and because authors and speakers often don’t clarify which meaning they intend, those trying to explain humanism can easily become a source of confusion. Fortunately, each meaning of the word constitutes a different type of humanism — the different types being easily separated and defined by the use of appropriate adjectives.

Literary Humanism is a devotion to the humanities or literary culture.

Renaissance Humanism is the spirit of learning that developed at the end of the middle ages with the revival of classical letters and a renewed confidence in the ability of human beings to determine for themselves truth and falsehood.

Cultural Humanism is the rational and empirical tradition that originated largely in ancient Greece and Rome, evolved throughout European history, and now constitutes a basic part of the Western approach to science, political theory, ethics, and law.

Philosphical Humanism is any outlook or way of life centered on human need and interest. Sub-categories of this type include Christian Humanism and Modern Humanism.

.” Modern Humanism, also called Naturalistic Humanism, Scientific Humanism, Ethical Humanism and Democratic Humanism is defined by one of its leading proponents, Corliss Lamont, as “a naturalistic philosophy that rejects all supernaturalism and relies primarily upon reason and science, democracy and human compassion.” Modern Humanism has a dual origin, both secular and religious, and these constitute its sub-categories.

Secular Humanism is an outgrowth of 18th century enlightenment rationalism and 19th century free thought. Many secular groups, , advocate this philosophy.

Religious Humanism emerged out of Ethical Culture, Unitarianism, and Universalism. Today, many Unitarian- Universalist congregations and all Ethical Culture societies describe themselves as humanist in the modern sense..

Historical Retrospect of Humanism

Humanism is a fairly new name for a very old philosophy. The basic principles of humanism — claims and an emphasis on living a fulfilling and ethical life without religion — have been embraced by a wide variety of thinkers in different cultures for thousands of years. But not until the twentieth century did the word “humanism” become the common term for this worldview.

Humanism is a fairly new name for a very old philosophy. The basic principles of humanism — claims and an emphasis on living a fulfilling and ethical life without religion — have been embraced by a wide variety of thinkers in different cultures for thousands of years. But not until the twentieth century did the word “humanism” become the common term for this worldview..

Many of these humanist traditions have survived in some form to contribute to the humanist philosophies of the twenty-first century. Important humanist traditions include the great teachers and philosophical movements of Ancient China and India between three thousand and two thousand years ago; the philosophies of classical Greece and Rome, which survived in the Muslim world during the European Dark Ages and Medieval period, finally returning to Europe in the ; Renaissance and the flowering of scientific and humanist thought in the eighteenth-century.

Theoretical rationale of Humanism

Metaphysical Position of Humanism The second Humanist Manifesto, published in 1973 states; “ 

“We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a supernatural; it is either meaningless or irrelevant to the question of the survival and fulfillment of the human race. As nontheists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity.”, there seems a definite decline in the strength of the super naturalistic outlook. The whole tenor of life during the Renaissance was one of indulgence, a catering to nature rather than a subjugation of nature to higher supernatural powers. God was not dethroned. Rather He was viewed as one who was congenial to man’s attempts to develop his individuality to the fullest

Concept of the Self

Humanism cultivated a philosophy where in theology  is called “speculative metaphysics .According to the Humanists, there is no such thing as the soul. One does not and cannot perceive the soul, and one cannot establish its existence with the help of inference, because inference is not a valid source of knowledge.. Being conscious is a peculiar quality of the living human body. It can keep back the consciousness so long as the physical parts are healthy and stay together in a certain form. Consciousness thus is an emergent quality of the physical parts coming together in specific proportions. For example, when yeast is blended with certain juices, they turn into wine. The property of being wine is a new quality which yeast and juices obtain when blended. Therefore, according to Humanistic metaphysics, life also is only a new configuration of matter. Nothing but matter is real. Therefore the soul or self-awareness is only the physical body with a new emerging quality.  The  Humanism metaphysics speak of the mind which is different from the soul . But appear to think of mind as the consciousness in its knowing function, which of course is not separate from the body. The body together with its consciousness is the soul and consciousness in its experiencing function is the mind. Mind knows the external world through the senses.

Consciousness arises from the material structure of the body and characterizes the body itself—rather than a soul—and perishes with the body. proclaimed that humans literally go from earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust: When a man dies, his/her consciousness goes away and one cannot prove that it vanishes and exists somewhere else. Being conscious is a peculiar quality of the living human body The Humanists state that consciousness is not due to the soul. When a man dies, his/her consciousness goes away and one cannot prove that it vanishes and exists somewhere else

According to the  Humanism the soul is only the body qualified by intelligence. It has no existence apart from the body, only this world exists  Humanism metaphysics states that nothing that is not perceived with the senses or consciousness is real and existing”. The Humanism  state that consciousness is not due to the soul .. It can keep back the consciousness so long as the physical parts are healthy and stay together in a certain form. Consciousness thus is an emergent quality of the physical parts coming together in specific proportions.. Therefore, according to Humanism metaphysics, life also is only a new configuration of matter. Nothing but matter is real. Therefore the atman or self-awareness is only the physical body with a new emerging quality.

The Humanism metaphysics speak of the mind which is different from the soul . But appear to think of mind as the consciousness in its knowing function, which of course is not separate from the body. The body together with its consciousness is the  soul and consciousness in its experiencing function is the mind. Mind knows the external world through the senses. The world is the material world only

Humanism metaphysics are of the faith that there is no external cause for the  elements coming together and obtaining the qualities of life and consciousness. It is their inherent quality to come together and to have those qualities. However one cannot generalise on this process and establish a law that, whenever these  elements come together in certain ratio, life and consciousness will emerge. The elements may alter their nature any time. One cannot, therefore say that Nature comprises some eternal laws. In this school the elements, , when transformed into the body, intelligence is produced” just as the intoxicating power of some herbs is developed from the mixing of certain ingredients. When the body is destroyed, intelligence at once perishes also.

Concept of God

The existence of God was a standard topic for rational debate.. The atheists put forward excellent rejoinders, like the following: “If the universe requires a maker because it undergoes change, even God needs a maker because he sometimes creates, sometimes destroys.” ” They did not believe in the theory of divine creation of the universe by a supernatural power.   Accepting only perception as the valid source of knowledge, the  Humanism disapproved the reality of God. No one has ever seen God and no one can see him in future. There is no heaven, no hell, no God, and there are no objective ethical laws. The only laws binding men are the laws of the state, obedience to which brings rewards and disobedience of which fetches punishment. And the science of the laws of state is the only science worth studying  Humanists believed only in the present existing world. They did not believe in the theory of divine creation of the universe by a supernatural power.

Epistemological  position of Humanism.

The Renaissance scholar contended that man’s most elevated natural faculty was reason. Revelation was the basis for sacred science but its source was supernatural. Experience gave knowledge of particulars which did not become true knowledge until reason had abstracted the essence of such particulars.

Of the three important sources of knowledge accepted in common by all the orthodox schools (perception, inference, and verbal testimony), the Humanist accepted only perception as the valid source of knowledge and rejected both inference and verbal testimony. Whatever we know through perception is true and real.

The Humanism believed sense perception alone as a means of valid knowledge.Since inference is not a means of valid knowledge, all supersensible things like “destiny,” “soul,” or “afterlife,” do not exist. To say that such entities exist is regarded as absurd, for no unverifiable assertion of existence is meaningful The Humanists did not deny the difference between the dead and the living and recognized both as realities. A person lives, the same person dies: that is a perceived, and hence the only provable, fact

Humanism theory of knowledge is not exactly skepticism or agnosticism, but a fairly thoroughgoing positivism. They accept the reality of whatever we can perceive with our senses and deny the reality of whatever we cannot so perceive.  They did not deny the formal validity of inference, because they used the very laws of inference to show that we could not obtain material truths about the world through inference.

Humanistic theory of knowledge speak that there is no existence of causal laws. Every event is a chance; everything comes into existence and passes out of it according to its own nature. Even this nature is not a universal law; it too is subject to change. The Humanists  make a strong attack on verbal testimony. Verbal knowledge is only knowledge of words and their meanings are based upon inference. But it has already been pointed out that inference is a dicey source of knowledge.. For either reason, verbal testimony is not a reliable source of knowledge.

Humanists recognize that intuitive feelings, hunches, speculation, flashes of inspiration, emotion, altered states of consciousness, and even religious experience, possess  no valid means to acquire knowledge First, knowledge based on verbal testimony is inferential and so vitiated by all the defects of inference. They saw the scriptures as characterized by three faults: falsity, self-contradiction, and tautology. On the basis of such a theory of knowledge,

The Humanists  defended a complete reductive materialism according to which the elements are the only original components of being; all other forms are products of their composition These elements, in turn, were said to be composed of atoms, indivisible units which were conceived as immutable, indestructible and having existed for all time. The properties of any given object were determined by the atoms that comprised it. Likewise, consciousness and the senses were the result of a particular combination of atoms and the proportions in which they were combined. After the death of an organism, this combination disintegrated into elements that then combined with corresponding types of atoms in inanimate nature.. From these alone, when transformed into the body, intelligence is produced—just as the intoxicating power of some herbs is developed from the mixing of certain ingredients. When the body is destroyed, intelligence at once perishes also.

Axiological position of Humanism

Humanism is a philosophy for the here and now. Humanists regard human values as making sense only in the context of human life rather than in the promise of a supposed life after death.

Humanism is a philosophy of compassion. Humanist ethics is solely concerned with meeting human needs and answering human problems–for both the individual and society–and devotes no attention to the satisfaction of the desires of supposed theological entities.

Concept of Social Values

Humans evolved as social animals, which is the only reason humanity has developed culture and civilization, and now in fact depends on them. This means that even in the neutral terms of differential reproductive success, humanity’s future as a species depends on developing and maintaining a healthy and productive culture and civilization. Any behavior contrary to that end threatens humanity’s survival and the survival of one’s neighbors, kin, and descendants. Likewise, this means humans have been “designed” by blind natural forces to require a healthy society in order to flourish and feel happy and content. Therefore the pursuit of human happiness requires the pursuit of a healthy society so people can live in it, interact with it, and benefit from it.

Humanism is in tune with today’s enlightened social thought. Humanists are committed to civil liberties, human rights, church-state separation, the extension of participatory democracy not only in government but in the workplace and education, an expansion of global consciousness and exchange of products and ideas internationally, and an open-ended approach to solving social problems, an approach that allows for the testing of new alternatives.

Humanism is, in sum, a philosophy for those in love with life. Humanists take responsibility for their own lives and relish the adventure of being part of new discoveries, seeking new knowledge, exploring new options. Instead of finding solace in prefabricated answers to the great questions of life, Humanists enjoy the open-endedness of a quest and the freedom of discovery that this entails.

The Humanist Manifesto goes on to state, “we can discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species. While there is much that we do not know, humans are responsible for what we are or will become. No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.”

According to them, if there is a benevolent God supervising humanity, then why is it that a majority of the human population is in the throes of misery and suffering? If there is a just God above us, then why is there so much injustice on the earth, against the poor and deprived sections of society?”

And humanism has a firm position on ethics. “Moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational.” In other words, morals are not derived from absolutes given by God, but are determined by the individual from situation to situation. By and large, the humanists deplore any reference to them as being “religious.”.

Concept of Truth

Humanism is a realistic philosophy. Humanists recognize the existence of moral dilemmas and the need for careful consideration of immediate and future consequences in moral decision making.

Humanism is in tune with the science of today. Humanists therefore recognize that we live in a natural universe of great size and age, that we evolved on this planet over a long period of time, that there is no compelling evidence for a separable “soul,” and that human beings have certain built-in needs that effectively form the basis for any human-oriented value system.

Humanism is in tune with new technological developments. Humanists are willing to take part in emerging scientific and technological discoveries in order to exercise their moral influence on these revolutions as they come about, especially in the interest of protecting the environment

The concept of Beauty ( Aesthetics)

The principal enunciated above regarding the ethical or moral values of the Renaissance hold also for aesthetic values, at least in the sense that these values are rooted in human nature. Art in all its forms, but especially literature, is the most excellent product of the human mind. Following the lead of the Greek and Roman artists and authors the masters of the Renaissance glorified man human nature. The exemplars of style, of form, and the like were from classical masterpieces. In cases where the vernacular was used in literature, such as in Dante’s inferno, the ancient writing provided the themes and to some extent the style. The painting, sculpture, and architecture of the Renaissance followed closely the realistic form of ancient pieces. The works of Van Eyck, da Vinci, and Michelangelo might be cited as examples.

The Religious Values

The ethical and aesthetic theories described above fostered another development which is to become very important in naturalistic education of succeeding centuries, namely, the supreme value of the individual. The religious doctrines proposed by the reformers lent their support to the individualistic philosophy of the Renaissance. With the demand for religious freedom, by both Catholic and Protestant sects, came the demand for personal freedom. Individual freedom thus emerged as one of the most desirable human values. Thought this freedom was not granted to the pupil in lower schools, it became the mark of the mature scholar.

To summarize the value orientation of this period, it seems correct to assert that the revival of human values (as opposed to supernatural values) is the most significant development. Of these human values, those involving the intellect of man received the greatest emphasis. Education and culture were measured by one’s elegance of style, eloquence, and knowledge of classical lore. The personal pride in individual acumen fostered the search for freedom from the restrictive control of the Church and temporal rulers. The seeds of the hedonism of Rousseau and the rugged individual of later centuries took root during the Renaissance and Reformation. Humanism in Education

Teachers who hold a more humanistic view of the purpose of education often experience stress because the meaning they assign to education differs greatly from the meaning assigned by society or their institution. It is clear in listening to the language of education that its primary focus is on knowledge and teaching rather than on the learner. Students are expected to conform to schools rather than schools serving the needs of students

The Humanism has brought great effect in various fields of education. The aims, the curriculum, the methods of teaching the outlook towards the child, the teachers, the discipline and the system of education all were given new blood. Humanism in education dragged the education from the old traditions, idealism and the high and low tides to the real surface.

In the field of education and especially in society today, “humanistic education” is thesubject of considerable interest and controversy. Many people of good will immediately react “for it” or “against it,” depending on previous experience with the term…Actually, the term means many different things to different people. What follows is a very brief attempt by a number of educators to clarify the term “humanistic education” by describing what it is and what it is not…

Fundamental Principles of Education  in Humanism

Most educators who advocate humanistic education typically intend this approach to mean one or more of three things:

Humanistic education teaches a wide variety of skills which are needed to function in today’s world–basic skills such as reading, writing and computation, as well as skills in communicating, thinking, decision-making, problem-solving and knowing oneself.

Humanistic education is a humane approach to education–one that helps students believe in themselves and their potential, that encourages compassion and understanding, that fosters self-respect and respect for others.

Humanistic education deals with basic human concerns–with the issues throughout history and today that are of concern to human beings trying to improve the quality of life–to pursue knowledge, to grow, to love, to find meaning for one’s existence.

According to Gage and Berliner (1991) some basic principles of the humanistic approach that were used to develop the objectives are:

Students will learn best what they want and need to know. That is, when they have developed the skills of analyzing what is important to them and why as well as the skills of directing their behavior towards those wants and needs, they will learn more easily and quickly.

Knowing how to learn is more important than acquiring a lot of knowledge. In our present society where knowledge is changing rapidly, this view is shared by many educators, especially those from a cognitive perspective.

Self-evaluation is the only meaningful evaluation of a student’s work. The emphasis here is on internal development and self-regulation. While most educators would likely agree that this is important, they would also advocate a need to develop a student’s ability to meet external expectations..

Feelings are as important as facts. Much work from the humanistic view seems to validate this point and is one area where humanistically-oriented educators are making significant contributions to our knowledge base.

Students learn best in a non-threatening environment. This is one area where humanistic educators have had an impact on current educational practice. The orientation espoused today is that the environment should by psychologically and emotionally, as well as physically, non-threatening

Humanism and Aims of Education

The  “Epistemology” gives the clue to determining humanistic education aims. Since reason or intellect is man’s noblest quality it behooves educators to concentrate their efforts on the development of intellectual power.

It is true that noted humanists, such as Vives and Erasmus, mentioned character formation as a goal of education. Within the context of classroom instruction, however, moral education was definitely allotted a minor role. classroom activities were directed almost exclusively to the building of intellectual-verbal skills within the student. .

It seems, then, that for the humanist, the primary aim of the Education  as distinct from the broad notion of education carried on in the home, church, and social institutions, was the cultivation of the intellect of the student

The goal of education should be to foster students’ desire to learn and teach them how to learn. Students should be self-motivated in their studies and desire to learn on their own

As described by Gage and Berliner (1991) there are five basic objectives of the humanistic view of education:

  • promote positive self-direction and independence (development of the regulatory system);
  • develop the ability to take responsibility for what is learned (regulatory and affective systems);
  • develop creativity (divergent thinking aspect of cognition);
  • curiosity (exploratory behavior, a function of imbalance or dissonance in any of the systems);
  • and an interest in the arts (primarily to develop the affective/emotional system). .

Humanism and Concept of teacher

The role of the teacher is important in successfully educating children. Theteacher  must capture the child’s interest and build on the natural motivation that exists. Teachers need to remember to vary their teaching methods to accommodate each individual learning style. Not all children learn at the same pace or are at the  same point; therefore, the teacher must vary his/her style. knowledge should be organized and relate to current experiences Teacher is a facilitator; helper; partner; promotes, but does not direct learning, sets mood for learning, acts as a flexible resource for learners

There are a variety of ways teachers can implement the humanist view towards education. Some of these include:

  • Allow the student to have a choice in the selection of tasks and activities whenever possible.
  • Help students learn to set realistic goals.
  • Have students participate in group work, especially cooperative learning, in order to develop social and affective skills.
  • Act as a facilitator for group discussions when appropriate.
  • Be a role model for the attitudes, beliefs and habits you wish to foster. Constantly work on becoming a better person and then share yourself with your students.

Humanistic educators believe that both feelings and knowledge are important to the learning process. Unlike traditional educators, humanistic teachers do not separate the cognitive and affective domains:

Humanism and Curriculum

The humanist’s complete absorption in the classics had far-reaching effects on educational theory and practice. Literary style and eloquence (in Latin, of course) became the outward sign of the educated gentleman. The “kitchen Latin” of the medieval writer was ridiculed. The closer one came to perfect imitation of classical style, the nearer one approached intellectual perfection. Thus, the schools of the Renaissance and Reformation era became centers for linguistic training. There was no place for vocational or health education.

Thus, beyond the very  rudimentary training given in basic skills, the curriculum of the times was almost exclusively made up of the study of Latin and Greek grammar and the classics. Mathematics, history and astronomy and a few other subjects were allotted very little school time. Vocational education was school function at all since it was given by the skilled tradesman as on the job training.

The Jesuits divide the curriculum into five levels or grades The first level was devoted to study of elementary Greek and Latin grammar and supplemented by easy readings from Latin literature. Intermediate grammar was taught at the second level. More difficult selections such as Aesop’s Fables in Greek, and Cicero, Caesar, and Ovid in Latin made up the reading lists. The third level covered advanced grammar and composition using more difficult selections from the classics as models.At the fourth level the study of rhetoric was introduced along with a complete review of grammar and syntax to assure their mastery. At the time the student was expected to be able to handle the most difficult pagan and Christian classics with relative ease. The highest (fifth ) level in the course of studies was intended to produce perfect classical style in speaking a writing Latin. The measure of the student’s success in this endeavor was the imitation of Cicero’s style. The classical literature studied was chose for its lofty style and beauty.

The classical part of the curriculum made up at least two-thirds or the program. History, philosophy, and mythology were normally treated in the context of the classical literature. Religion was taught as a separate subject. Physical education was extracurricular and usually part of organized sport activates. Attendance at Mass and devotional exercises were required at boarding schools and sometimes of day students.

The intellectualistic orientation of this humanistic curriculum is obvious. These schools were no place for “intellectual lightweights.” Satisfactory completion of this course of studies opened the door to the universities and to positions of leadership in the government. Any student whose mind had been disciplined by the classical curriculum was intellectually prepared for the challenges of statesmanship an responsibilities of the learner professions.

Humanism and Concept of Student

Learner is highly motivated and self-directed; assumes responsibility for learning and self-development He has continuity formal structure antecedents in the past and a yearning toward the future. His experience has some continuity throughout changing events and places and in order to explain this we must recognize that the self is a common factor in all of these experiences. The self has form as well as continuity.

The learner possess a unique selfhood, self-realization supplements freedom as such with value concerns. Freedom does not carry built-in guarantees that it will be turned to good ends. In order to be freedom it must be free to make us miserable. The how of choosing, as well as the what which is chosen is a necessary ingredient of the good life.

The student is an experiencing organism capable of using intelligence to resolve its problems. He learns as he experiences; as he dose and as he undergoes. As a thinking organism his experiences, and his reflections upon those experiences become a part of him determining his likes, dislikes, and the future direction of his learning. The Humanist views the student as a whole organism constantly interacting with the environment

“Humanism in education recognizes the importance of the child. The child is a real unit which    has real existence. He has some feelings, some desires and some powers. All these can not  be overlooked. These powers of the child shall have to be given due regard at the time of  planning education. Child can reach near reality through learning by reason. Child has to be given as much freedom as possible. The child is to be enabled to proceed on the basis of facts, The child can learn only when he follows the laws of learning.”

Instructional Methodology

Even though some scholars of the Renaissance discussed the problems of methodology, the teachers in the lower schools failed to make any significant changes in their approach to teaching. As we mentioned above, the Renaissance scholar clamored for freedom and creativity – for himself, but not for school boys. Instead they demanded perfect imitation, on the part of students, of the classical style of the ancients. Teachers even employed the exact methods of the ancient educationists, especially Quintilian’s

Later on, the Jesuits, develop a new teaching method.. This method, called the prelection, was devised by experienced classroom teachers At the highest level, where the teacher sought to perfect style and eloquence, the teacher explained a selection chosen from the classics until he was quite certain his students understood it. He then analyzed the selection for its artistic structure, pointing up the basic principles or art, narration, and persuasion. If the passage contained any material of an ethical, theological, or historical nature, it was brought up at this time. Finally ,the teacher analyzed each word or phrase and pointed out its grammatical and syntactical structure, its beauty, variety, and rhythm in the context of the whole passage. At this level, the method proceeded from the general to the specific – from an entries selection to each word in it.

At the next level down the educational ladder the teacher spent more time on etymology, the beauty and forcefulness of Latin style, and the many variations possible in writing and speaking Latin. Attention was given to explaining the historical context of such writers as Caesar, Livy, and Tacitus. All of these teacher activities were considered necessary so that the student imitated the style of the classical author.

At the lower levels the technique was reversed. The analysis proceeded from individual words to the whole passage. This approach was considered essential since, at he lower level, the purpose of the lesson was mastery of grammar. Thus the teaches would first translate each world and sentence, explaining subjects, predicates, and modifiers. Exact meanings of words, proper word sequence in sentences, correct placement of modifiers were “drilled into” the students. Students were expected to copy the teacher’s  explanation and assigned themes based on the most beautiful passages in the material translated. When this procedure was completed the teacher culminated the lesson by translating the whole passage. If need be the teacher would repeat the entire lesson one or more times until the student had mastered the material.

Several other points about this method, especially at lower levels, are worth noting. The method was mainly teacher centered. The teacher introduced each new passage : the student not permitted to go ahead on his own lest he make mistakes. The teacher conducted the many vocabulary and grammar drills. Students were to write only the items in their notebooks which the teacher dictated. Students were expected to repeat verbatim what the teacher had given in the lesson. This approach, it was believed, would provide the student with the mental discipline imposed by the subject matter itself (grammar and syntax) coupled with that of the teacher’s logical analysis of the material.

Humanism and Concept of Disciplene

Discipline is adjustment to objectivity. It is necessary in order to enable the child to adjust himself to his environment and concentrate on his work. Bringing out change in the real world is impossible. The student himself is a part of this world. He has to admit this fact and adjust himself to the world. A disciplined student is one who does not withdraw from the cruelties, tyrannies, hardships and shortcomings pervading the world. Humanism has vehemently opposed withdrawal from life. One has to adjust oneself to this material world.

Humanism and achievement Evaluation

Very vigorous oral and written exams were administered to determine whether the student should pass on to the next level. For these tests the student was expected to know all the vocabulary, grammar, spelling, and literary selections of each level. But now the  Humanistic educators believe that grades are irrelevant and that onlyself-evaluation is meaningful. Grading encourages students to work for a gradeand not for personal satisfaction. In addition, humanistic educators are opposed to objective tests because they test a student’s ability to memorize and do not provide sufficient educational feedback to the teacher and student

Agencies of Education

During the medieval period and for many centuries prior to it, the family and church were the primary educational agencies. Public educating passed out of the educational scene with the collapse of the Roman empire. During the Dark Ages education was kept alive only in the monastic schools.

At the height of the Renaissance many schools flourished under private auspices, usually that of a scholar.. Also there were many schools in the court of the nobles and aristocracy. The complete break with church-controlled education came with the Reformation.

The reformers maintained that education was a state function. Thus, one finds the first completely independent public school system in the Protestant district of Wurtemberg, Germany about the middle of the sixteenth century..

Critical Appraisal of Humanism

Merits of Humanism

Humanistic education is essential for preparing young people to be citizens in a democracy. If democracy is to work, its citizens must be educated. They must know how to gather information, distinguish fact from opinion, analyze propaganda, understand many different viewpoints, understand justice, think for themselves, communicate their opinions clearly, and work with others for the common good. These are among the most important skills that humanistic education seeks to teach our youth.

Humanistic education enhances the teaching of the basics. Many of the major books and articles on humanistic education show teachers how to do a more effective job of teaching reading, writing, math, social studies, etc. Many of the best traditional-subject-matter teachers integrate humanistic education methods and materials into their basic curriculum. Rather than ignoring the basics, humanistic educators seek to expand our concept of what basic education is, saying that basic skills for surviving in today’s world go beyond reading, writing, computation, and vocational skills and include other skills for communicating, problem-solving and decision-making.

Humanistic education is not psychotherapy. It is not the goal of humanistic education to help students overcome deep-seated emotional problems. Rather, humanistic education seeks to help students to lean useful skills for living and to deepen their understanding of issues relevant to their academic and social development. Teachers do not need to be trained psychologists to conduct humanistic education activities. They do require sensitivity to students, classroom management skills, and the ability to conduct a class discussion. These skills are within the grasp of all good teachers.

Humanistic education is supported by years of research and experience. One of the strongest reasons for supporting humanistic education is that, when done effectively, students learn! Considerable evidence shows that cooperative learning structures higher self-concepts, and the student’s motivation and interest in learning all are related to greater academic achievement. Studies also show that humanistic education can lead to fewer discipline problems, less vandalism and reduced use of illegal drugs…Such research findings do not prove that particular humanistic education methods should be used in all situation.

Humanistic education encourages parent involvement in the schools. What parent does not sometimes wish his or her children would listen more respectfully, choose less impulsively, calm down when overexcited, learn to be assertive without being aggressive, or make better use of their time? Many humanistic education methods teach students how to do these things.. 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 believe that schools have a role to play in the “values education” of students. While the home and religion have the major responsibility in the value development and moral development of children, the school also has a legitimate role. Few parents have ever questioned the school’s role in encouraging the values of punctuality, fairness, health, courtesy, respect for property, neatness and the like. Humanistic educators believe schools also should encourage the democratic and humanitarian values of tolerance, self-respect, freedom of thought, respect for others, social responsibility and the like. Schools cannot and should not be “value-free.”

Limitations and Drawbacks

Humanism is often depicted as denying spiritual values and is accordingly “represented as discarding morality, and preaching what is reproachfully described as the principle of ‘good  and no conscience”. However, some scholars believe, however, that this is a misunderstanding of the Humanism position since “no serious thinker could have included such a teaching” Humanism believes not in the notion of stringent philosophy, but in liberal beliefs. Hence, they refute most of the already-established rules in the context of  philosophy

Another criticism often leveled at the Humanism movement is that it is essentially anti-intellectual. While this is perhaps an overstatement, it is true that the main area of concern for Humanists is the marketplace of daily life. Thus, those philosophies oriented toward a rather rationalistic a priori type of thought will find the Humanists empirical and anti-intellectual.

The weakest points in the Humanist’s chain of thought, and the one that has probably subjected the Humanists to more valid and invalid criticism than any other is  their theory of truth. If truth is seen as constantly being changed and tested, rather than as a stable body of knowledge, the whole stability of the universe is previous experience, which has been oriented toward finding and cataloging such truths, will go for naught. All other major philosophical systems are concerned with the nature of truth, and historically the vast majority have found a core of stable, unchanging, absolute values on which they could rely. The very fact that Humanism challenges the existence of this core makes it, for many, a dangerous and radical philosophy


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Broudy, Harry S., Building a Philosophy of Education. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1961.

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Cunningham, J.K., “Problems of Philosophy, p-05.

Frank Thilly, “A History of philosophy”, Central Publishing House, Allahabad

John Dewey, “Reconstruction in Philosophy,” p-38. London, University of London Press Ltd. 1921

John Locke, “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding 1960, Introduction.

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To Mrs. Pallavi Singh, for being the scribe of this article.


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