Educational Philosophy 1
Running Head: FORMULATION OF AN EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AND
AN ORGANIZATIONAL FRAMEWORK
Midwestern State University
Educational Philosophy 2
Formulation Of An Educational Philosophy And Organizational Framework As
The Foundation For Further Curriculum Development
The purpose of an educational philosophy and organizational framework for
nursing education revolves around the nature of people, their growth, and how students,
as well as faculty, make decisions about themselves. This philosophy forms the
foundation on which teaching approaches are developed. A philosophy derived from
humanistic psychology in which the major goal of teaching is to enhance a student’s
individual potential and responsibility for personal growth creates learning opportunities
that are most beneficial to students and instructors (Merriam & Caffarella, 1991). This
philosophy requires a change in the teaching style of the majority of nursing education
programs, from being didactic, directive teachers controlling the learners, to continually
striving to facilitate the process of learning. This is the philosophy that this faculty as
Overview of Humanistic Psychology
Because a humanistic educational philosophy originated with the principles of
humanistic psychology, a background in the discipline was reviewed. Prior to the
introduction of humanism, psychology was dominated by two major theories of human
behavior: psychoanalysis (Freudianism) and behaviorism. Humanistic psychology grew
in large measure as a reaction to the seeming inadequacy of these theories to deal with the
higher nature, or humanness, of people (Tageson, 1971). Freudianism dealt with
unconscious behavior and pathological personality development, while behaviorism was
related to the environment and its control of human behavior through conditioning.
Humanistic psychology differed greatly from both. It promoted an eclectic
interpretation of human growth and development, which built on other theories, as
Educational Philosophy 3
demonstrated in Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs (Goble, 1970). Humanistic
psychology emphasized healthy personality development instead of pathological
personality development. It concentrated on conscious rather than on unconscious
behavior. In opposition to the behavioristic theories of environmental control, humanistic
psychology integrated elements of Maslow’s theory of motivation, Carl Roger’s theory of
self-determinism (Evans, 1975), and Glasser’s theory of individual responsibility
(Glasser, 1975). It also emphasized a phenomenological approach to the study of human
consciousness. This approach described and classified, but did not interpret phenomena
such as human experience as it was known through the senses. Research studies led to
identification of elements in human relations that fostered growth and development,
thereby expanding the strictly objective methodology used by behaviorists to study
human behavior (Rogers, 1983).
Aim of Humanistic Psychology
The aim of humanistic psychology was to promote the full development of human
potential. Because it was person-centered, it placed the utmost value on the dignity of the
human being. It stressed self-realization and self-actualization as the goals of human
development. It strived to create a “fully functioning” (Rogers, 1983), “self-actualized”
(Maslow, 1968), or “responsible (Glasser, 1975) person. The characteristics of this kind
of person are well described by Maslow (1968). Everything one can imagine that was
good or right about a person applied to people who were self-actualized, fully functional
and responsible. They were mature, competent, and stable. They were humble and
listened carefully to other people, admitting that they did not know everything and that
they were always learning. These individuals were involved and committed to work that
Educational Philosophy 4
was done well and to the best of their ability; they were open to change and were not
threatened by it as were rigid inflexible people (Rogers, 1983). These people were inner
directed and had a sense of psychological freedom. They had the strength and self-
confidence to stand up for their beliefs and values. They accepted themselves and their
natures, and were equally accepting of others. They felt a kinship to their fellow man and
a responsibility for and commitment beyond their own needs to fulfilling those of others.
They were able to enjoy other people, accepting them as they were, recognizing in them
their own separate individual potential for growth. They developed and maintained
harmonious relationships with other people that were non-exploitive, but were instead,
respectful and caring, facilitating each other’s growth potential (Watson, 1967).
The application of these principles to the process of learning led to the
development of a humanistic approach to education. Humanistic education was
education of the total person. It allowed the learner to realize and develop his full
potential, going beyond basic cognitive learning into the realm of affective learning.
Humanistic education encouraged individuals to ask the questions: What did I
think? What did I feel? What was the significance of this learning experience to me?
How did it help me grow as a person? It was infinite in that the learner was always in a
state of becoming, and we were all learners throughout our entire lives. In comparison,
the traditional, didactic, teacher-oriented goal was to impart cognitive knowledge to
create an educated person, but this ignored the affective realm of human development.
Humanistic education was person centered. The person was helped to recognize
and develop his own unique potential, facilitating the process of individual growth and
positive behavioral changes through active learner participation. As a consequence of
Educational Philosophy 5
direct involvement in the learning process, students’ recognition or self-worth, personal
needs, and self-fulfillment became apparent. Willima Glasser (1975) said that a person
had the potential for learning to be responsible for fulfilling his personal needs of loving
and being loved, for feeling worthwhile to himself and others, and for doing this without
interfering with other people’s abilities to fulfill their won needs. He also stressed that
people have the ability for both self-evaluation and self-control and must exercise these
abilities in order to fulfill the need to be worthwhile (Glasser, 1975). Meaningful
learning was a matter of self-responsibility and was basically self-directed. The learner
must define his own learning needs and be assisted to find a personalized way in which to
meet them. The instructor became the person who helped him or her find the way, and
therefore facilitated the learning process; but the learner personalized it.
Health care today is in a hyper-dynamic state caused by continuous fluctuations
in payment systems, technology, delivery systems, professional relations as well as
societal outlooks and expectations.
Faculty possesses the combined ability, talent, expertise and creativity to meet the
many challenges of the educational environment.
The learner and the faculty have valuable and vast life experiences that contribute to
the development of goals.
The faculty provides a holistic education process to those that express a need and
desire to learn. It is the responsibility of educators to provide a learner centered
environment based on adult learning principles that will stimulate the developmental
skills the learner will need to be successful in professional pursuits.
It is the responsibility of the learner to be an active participant in the learning process
and to seek opportunities in which to apply the knowledge gained.
Adults learn in a collaborative, and caring environment and this is a shared process
between the faculty and the student. A collaborative and caring environment
encourage the application of learning, free exchange of ideas, development of
creativity, and critical thinking.
Educational Philosophy 6
Education is a life-long learning process, intended to promote professional growth
The organizing framework seeks to define the concepts of learner, environment,
life experiences, critical thinking, collaborative learning, holistic education and caring
and the relationship shared by each of these concepts.
The learner is defined as a participant in a health care setting. These participants,
as adult learners, are self directed and capable of identifying their own learning needs.
They have varying learning styles and rates and learn best when learning activities
incorporate immediate application. The learning activities will include classroom as well
as clinical experience within a hospital and other health related settings.
The environment encompasses all those factors impacting the learner as she/he
interacts with her/his surroundings. The dynamics of these factors require the learner to
act and react through interaction, which is rooted in previous life experiences as well as
her/his innate abilities.
Adults have innumerable experiences that serve as resources during new learning
experiences. Recognizing different types of experience provides insight into the
development of educational offerings and clinical opportunities. By recognizing that
students bring a variety of life experiences and skills to the clinical setting, the learning
opportunities can be tailored to fit the learner.
Educational Philosophy 7
Critical thinking is a resolution for a problematic situation. Critical thinking is a
purposeful and systematic process requiring conscious discipline. The critical thinking
process requires an awareness of elements of thought and a proficiency in the
examination of assumptions and communication of implications and alternatives. The
critical thinker becomes an active, empowered participant who is aware of interaction
with the world, who has a global view of issues, and who is able to regularly take
Caring is a comfortable and shared relationship built on mutual trust and respect
between the teacher and student. Natural caring is a human process in which one person
assists another in growth and actualization.
Collaborative learning is a mutual exchange of knowledge from varied disciplines.
The exchange is presented in a caring manner. The learner’s and facilitator’s self-
concept and self-esteem are essential components to collaboration.
The whole person concept can be enhanced with exposure to various disciplines such
as the natural and social sciences, fine arts, humanities and communication.
The learner is the center of the educational environment. The concepts of life
experiences, collaborative learning, caring, holistic education and critical thinking are
placed in concentric circles within the environment. The circles indicate the dynamic
Educational Philosophy 8
nature of the concepts within the educational environment. The broken lines indicate the
inter-relationships among the concepts as they impact each other a well as the learner.
In summary there are unifying concepts that are rooted in humanistic theory. The
concepts of the learner, environment, life experiences, collaborative learning, caring,
holistic education and critical thinking are basic to the concepts and processes that
provide the organizational framework for a nursing curriculum.
Educational Philosophy 9
Evans, R.I., (1975). Carl Rogers: the man and his ideas. New York: Dutton.
Glasser, W. (1975). Reality therapy. New York: Harper and Row.
Goble, F. (1970). The third force. New Your: Grossman.
Maslow, A.H. (1968). Toward a psychology of being. (2nd ed). New York: Van
Merriam, S., & Cafferella, R. (1991). Learning in adulthood. San Francisco: Jossey-
Rogers, C. (1983). Freedom to learn from the 80s. Columbus, OH: Merrill.
Tageson, C.W., (1971). Humanistic education. Counseling and values, 17(2), 90-95.
Watson, J. (1967). Behavior: an introduction to comparative psychology. New York:
Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Educational Philosophy 10