Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Too much psychology

I have been listening to a series of talks by WIlliam Coulson.

He was Carl Rogers' right hand man for many years. Rogers introduced the world to client-centred counselling, and championed the spread of psychology for normals. Inter alia he was responsible for the destruction of parts of the Catholic education and religious set-up in the USA, where he helped many nuns to 'liberate themselves.'

Coulson recanted and his talks are an analysis of the failings and dangers of Rogers' approach. He clearly has a huge regard for Rogers, which makes the talks all the more compelling.

Coulson's basic thesis is that the value-free approach advocated by Rogers is profoundly dangerous for kids, whose values are not yet formed and who need guidance; and also for adults who do not have a properly formed conscience. He is particularly wary of teachers who have been introduced to some of these ideas, have a superficial understanding of them, and play amateur psychologist in the class room: values clarification, circle time (as run by some) etc... Too much psychology is his view: try teaching the kids to read write, do sums, and learn the laws of civilised behaviour...

His talks are powerful, passionate and fascinating.

More on this later, probably...


Kate said...

I've always been a bit suspicious of circle time-the more so since social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) has been introduced.
maybe the SATS which have been roundly criticised this year would show genuinely better standards of achievement if the teachers were allowed to get on with teaching.

Ben Trovato said...

Yes... did you see my July posts about the mentoring scheme in my youngest daughter's school?

One of the problems is schools trying to fill the gaps left by dysfunctional parents and families, but when it leads to teachers acting as amateur psychologists I fear it may do more harm than good.

Kate said...

Thanks, have just looked at your July posts-it strikes me that having a mentoring scheme in a primary school is probably a hoop a school has to jump through in order to get 'healthy school' status.
Mentoring in this context feels like the thin end of another wedge to drive children and their parents apart.How dare they 1)circumvent parents by presuming to solve a child's possible difficulties without reference to parents, 2) tell children what they can and cannot say to their parents?You are fortunate in having a head who is prepared to listen to your concerns-ours is pretty good too,though none are infallible!