Roots of the Humanistic Movement in Education

A. S. Neill is considered to be the first of the modern humanisticeducators. Neill founded Summerhill, a school in England based on humanisticprinciples. Children who attended the school were given the freedom to studyand attend lessons when they wanted. According to reports by the BritishMinistry of Education, the students were never bored. They were energetic,responsible, and willing to take initiative in their studies. Despite thebenefits of the program, many parents removed their children from the schoolafter age 13 because they felt the academic preparation received was inadequate.

In the United States, Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow laid down thepsychological foundations of the humanistic movement in education. Thehumanistic movement led to the development of open education programs. Theseprograms were modeled after those cited in the Plowden report, a report whichpraised open education programs and examined their philosophical andpsychological framework.

The Montessori programs are probably the most familiar examples of openeducation in the United States.