THE FUNCTION OF ERROR IN PERSONAL GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT:
SELF-EMPOWERMENT THROUGH 'SELF-EVALUATION'
theme: Traditional teaching methods based on the negative attitude towards error eventually results in the interference of development of rational thought of 'moral consciousness' or 'conscience'. Development of conscience depends on a natural process of growth through learning which involves learner evaluation of their own achievement i.e. 'self-evaluation'. Self-evaluation involves the constructive use of error.
Function of error in the organismic valuing process "A mature individual does not resent correction, for he identifies himself more with the long range self that grows through correction than with the momentary self that is being indicted. " (Maria Montessori The Absorbent Mind 49
(school in Mali, West Africa)
As a teacher for meaningful learning, the facilitative teacher is aware of the fact that learning is a matter of the recognition of one's own achievement. Correct assessments are made of learners' progress while encouraging their own self-evaluation. Learners are encouraged to evaluate themselves in a growth promoting climate of facilitative learning. Evaluation of the learner "must take account of the need of each individual for self-respect, for realistic self-confidence, for recognition of genuine achievement, and for the development of a positive self-image. At the same time, the notion of honest self-evaluation must be introduced as early as possible, so that the responsibility for assessment of performance can be progressively and successfully transferrred from the teacher to the student." (Norman Goble. The Changing Role of the Teacher: International Perspectives. Paris, France: UNESCO. l977. page 67)
"Educationists have failed in many attempts at school reform because they did not clearly perceive the students' needs. Plans have been made on the basis of either immature radicalism or romantic idealism about children. Consequently educationists should first be liberated from any subtle conditioning in their own education which might have deformed their natural humanitarian impulse. Then plans should be made on the basis of scientific observation of children in their capacity of learning to pursue knowledge in order to adapt to their environment and thus gain status in their evaluation of themselves." (Norman Goble. The Changing Role of the Teacher, Paris: UNESCO, 1977. Function of Teaching ch 3. page 66)
Student evaluation in the traditional paradigm basd on negative attitude towards error In the traditional teaching paradigm - or 'behavioural paradigm' - pedagogical methods are based on the assumption that learning is conditioned and depends on external motivating devices which are extrinsic to the individual's subjective experience. So-called 'extrinsic motivation' is based on objective evaluation in the form of the punishment / reward system of points and 'grades'. High grades reward successful conditioning or 'success' and low grades punish 'failure'. This negative attitude towards error translates into teacher assessment of progress in learning in the form of corrections, praises and prizes. Such interference is perceived subjectively and not differentiated from the sense of self and self-organization and threatens the individual's 'sense of identity' and lowers their energy and interest. It is objective teacher evaluation which demotivates.
The 'problem of motivation' is at the basis of the so-called 'educational crisis'.
Problem of motivation derives from lack of respect for human needs Emphasis on objective teacher evaluation in the form of 'grades' contributes to declining motivation because it ignores the human motives for learning behaviour or 'human needs'. Human needs include the obvious physiological needs for survival of the organism and the species; the basic psychological needs to develop a positive self-image which comes from realistic self-confidence and the recognition of genuine achievement i.e. self-respect or 'self-esteem' - 'ego needs'; and the 'higher psychological needs' or 'spiritual needs' for growth - the 'growth needs' or 'metaneeds'. Metaneeds are functional in development of morality of 'moral consciousness' or 'conscience'. The human conscience is the expression of the instinctive valuing process based on the subconscious perception of the nature of the human personality i.e. 'human nature'.
Human nature is defined in terms of values for living i.e. 'human values'. Human values are the 'spiritual values' prescribed by the various religions - truth, love, charity, justice, beauty etc.
Denial of error leads to resistance of learning which prevents growth and development When correction of errors and evaluation methods are threatening to the self, it fails to assimilate into the growth process. Denial of errors makes it impossible to identify and correct them and removes the possibility for meaningful learning. As a result of resistance to learning perceptions of reality are illusory and distorted and this interferes with the development of rational thought thwarting intellectual and emotional growth of 'personal development'. The inhibition of personality development leads to fixated behaviour patterns of 'neurotic development' or 'neurosis'. Neurosis is a function of failed 'moral development' or development of 'character'.
Incomplete character development leads to the immorality of 'human wickedness' or 'evil'.
Freedom for development through learning: self-evaluation and the construtive use of error Errors are functional in growth and development. Personal growth and development is promoted in an climate of natural change - the same which stimulates client interest and motivation in 'psychocognitive therapy'. Psychocognitive therapy aims to elicit the individual's confrontation with their own conscience so that they are motivated to reflect on their behaviour and then modify it on the basis of personal awareness. This process of meaningful learning can only occur in a climate in which it does not threaten the individual's sense of self... sense of identity i.e. 'self-organization'. If correction of errors is not threatening to the individual's self-organisation then experience is perceived objectively, correction is differentiated and assimilated into the growth process and meaningful learning takes place. Meaningful learning is based on intrinsic motives for learning behaviour i.e. 'intrinsic motivation'. Intrinsic motivation incorporates the intrinsic tendency to correct error i.e. 'self-evaluation'.
Self-evaluation is the basis for 'self-empowerment' and the development of 'character'.
Character is a function of moral consciousness or 'conscience' Errors which are not identified and corrected are repeated. Awareness of error is important for rational thought... for development of 'conscience'. The conscience is the source of values for living or human 'values'... the seat of the individual's intrinsic spirituality or 'spirit'. Human values are a function of natural psychological and spiritual development or 'spiritual growth'. Spiritual growth occurs in the context of freedom from the rigidity of dogmatic thinking i.e. 'spiritual freedom' or inner freedom'. Inner freedom is the basis for development of rational conscience or 'soul'. Rational conscience is the expression of natural human ethics i.e. 'rational ethics'. Rational ethics is a function of rational ethical thought i.e. ethical reasoning or 'ethical rationality'. Ethical rationality involves integration of the emotional or 'affective' aspects of personality growth with the reasoning aspect or 'intellect'. Both aspects are essential for development of 'character'. Character development is a function of ethical rationality and depends on social and cultural conditions which foster the development of creativity and productivness i.e. 'work'. Meaningful work is based on concentration in the context of freedom for self-criticism and self-evaluation. In a natural process of growth through meaningful learning, self-evaluation is a natural process of evaluation in a non-threatening growth promoting climate which allows for expression of the learner's intrinsic capacity for development of conscience. Maturity of developed conscience depends on inner freedom as the source of humanistic morality or 'free morality'. The individual who is inwardly free - the 'moral being' or 'free spirit' - obeys their humanistic and free 'rational' developed conscience. Development of rational conscience depends on social conditions or 'learning environments' which are favorable for growth and development i.e. 'education'. Education of the developing human organism is a function of the proper development of conscience i.e. 'moral development'. Moral development is a function of the complete development of the whole or 'healthy' personality.
The healthy personality is characterised by independence, self-reliance and creativity... integration of character or 'social intelligence'.
The 'cognitive paradigm: 'self-evaluation' is based on a positive... intelligent... attitude use of error Learning is a natural 'cognitive process' which involves the individual's intrinsic capacity for correcting error. Real learning is based on motivation which is intrinsic to the organism i.e. 'intrinsic motivation'. Intrinsically motivated learning is derived from human needs as intrinsic motives for learning behaviour. Learning is a natural process involving the identification and correction of one's own errors in the process of evaluating information with a view to adapting to changes in the environment. Evaluation of information is a natural process which involves the correction of one's own errors and so contributes to personal growth and development. This enlightened view of learning suggests an effective teaching practice involving a positive attitude towards error i.e. 'cognitive paradigm'. Pedagogical methods involve the stimulation of learner interest and motivation on the basis of the natural process of correcting error or 'self-correction'. Responsibility for learner evaluation and assessment of progress is shifted from the teacher to the learner. Learners are given the responsibility to evaluate themselves. Teachers' evaluations of learners' knowledge and understanding are based on the active participation of the learner in a process of 'self-evaluation'. Learners are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own errors, to take the initiative to find the errors themselves, to identify them, to reflect on them, to correct them and in this way to learn from them. This enlightened view towards learner evaluation implies that the teacher adopt a natural means of assessment of learners' progress. The teacher makes correct assessments of learners' progress while encouraging learners to evaluate themselves. Learners' ability to evaluate their own progress is the basis for correct assessments of progress in intrinsically motivated learning. Encouragement of honest self-evaluation provides a growth promoting climate of optimal learning or 'optimalearning'.
In conditions of optimalearning, learners are given the opportunity to identify and correct their own errors.
Self-evaluation is a natural process of confidence building: 'self-esteem' Intrinsically motivated learning is a natural function of the 'organ for learning' or 'brain'. The function of the brain is to process and evaluate information. This involves a process of identification and correction of error. The brain corects itself. 'Auto-correction' leads to learning which is relevant for adaptation to the complexities of a changing social environment i.e. 'meaningful learning'. Meaningful learning is a function of the brain's capacity to process complex environmental stimuli and make decisions which lead to creative or 'adaptive' behaviour. Learning is meaningful if it does not threaten the individual's perception of self and their 'self-organization'. Self-organization is the basis for the individual's ability for adaptation i.e. 'adaptability'. Adaptability depends on methods of learner evaluation which account for 'human needs'. Children need to be properly guided in the process of learning to evaluate themselves. Consequently teachers must be familiar with the psychological skills and specialized techniques required to guide the students in making accurate self-evaluations.
The role of the teacher (or parent) is defined in terms of the 'facilitation of learning'.
Teacher as 'facilitator' has a positive attitude towards learner When teaching takes place within an educational system, the constraints of the system must be considered and appropriate modifications must be made within those constraints. Whatever the framework of teaching practice, the essential function of the teacher is to create a growth promoting climate... to inspire and strengthen confidence and facilitate meaningful learning. In a growth promoting climate of facilitative learning the function of the teacher is to promote learners' awareness of their own powers, to enable them to make realistic assessments of their own capabilities thus facilitating their confident adaptability which enhances security and the recognition of achievement. The recognition of one's own achievement is the basis for meaningful learning.
The facilitative teacher is able to assess learners' progress, while enouraging them to make realistic assessments of their own capabilities... honest self-evaluation.
Positive teacher attitudes or 'attributes' establish a climate which is conducive to natural change i.e. 'growth promoting climate' Honest self-evaluation depends on proper teacher guidance based on personal characteristics which facilitate growth i.e. teacher 'attributes'. Teacher attributes which are the following: first, a positive self-concept or genuineness and authenticity i.e. 'personality congruence'; second, unconditional positive regard towards others which is derived from a profound trust in human nature; third, the capacity for non-possessive caring or 'empathic understanding' i.e. 'empathy'.
Teacher attributes establish a climate which promotes growth through learning or 'natural change' i.e. a 'growth promoting climate'.
Implications for education: effective teaching practice is built on confidence in learner self-evaluation as a means to learner empowerment A learning/teaching system in which learners' are given freedom to develop their ability to evaluate their own progress as the basis for correct assessments of progress of intrinsically motivated learning provides education for 'mpliwholeness' or 'wellness' i.e. 'holistic education'. In the paradigm of holistic education the correction of errors is constructively and creatively integrated into the learning process. Effective teaching practice involves not only a tolerance for error but the constructive intelligent use of error as an effective tool for learning. The teacher's function is to facilitate natural change by stimulating learner interest and motivation in the same way that the therapist's function is to facilitate natural change in cognitive psychotherapy. The facilitative teacher does not allow the correction of error to interfere with the communication of meaning and in this way enhances learner confidence in their adaptability or 'self-empowerment'.
Self-empowerment is a function of rational 'self-evaluation'.
Return to top / Introduction/ Homepage
In a learning/teaching system in the framework of wholistic education, learning is based on the learner's natural function of intrinsic motivation and the intrinsic tendency to correct error. Learning is a natural process involving the identification and correction of one's own errors in the process of evaluating information. Evaluation is a natural process involving the correction of one's own errors. In a growth promoting climate, teaching is based on the teacher's function as 'facilitator' to promote learners' confident adaptability enhancing their security and making them aware of their own powers. The teacher's function is to strengthen the confidence of learners and to make sure that they are able to make realistic assessments of their own capabilities. The effective teacher encourages honest self-evaluation and learners are given the opportunity to identify and correct their own errors. This enlightened view towards teaching implies that the teacher adopt a natural means of assessing learners' progress in learning. When teaching takes place within an educational system, the the teacher has to consider the constraints of the system and make modifications to teaching practice within the framework of the system. Whatever the constraints of the system, the teacher's essential function is to facilitate meaningful learning, inspiring confidence in a growth promoting climate. Teacher interference - teacher praises, prizes, punishments and corrections - lowers children's energies and interests. In order to facilitate the learning process, the facilitative teacher enhances learners' confidence with the intelligent use of error. Effective teaching practice does not allow the correction of error to interfere with the communication of meaning. The teacher's positive attitude toward the learners allows them to take the responsibility for their own errors, to learn from their own errors and to take the initiative to find out for themselves, to reflect on and to correct their own errors. A tolerance for errors can be used as an effective tool for both learning and teaching. Errors can be constructively exploited and the correction of errors can be integrated into the learning process. Errors which are not identified and corrected are repeated. Denial of error makes it impossible to identify and correct mistakes. Awareness of error is important for rational thought. Inability to admit one's mistakes and failure to correct errors removes the possibility of improvement and correction, resulting in illusory and distorted perceptions of reality which making rational thought impossible. As a result, both intellectual and emotional growth are thwarted. Errors are functional in growth and development. When correction of errors and evaluation methods are threatening to the self, learning tends to be resisted. Meaningful learning can only proceed in a climate in which it does not threaten one's perception of oneself and one's 'self-organization'. When threat to the self is low, then experience is perceived and assimilated objectively, and correction is differentiated. Consequently the method of learner evaluation must account for the need for self-respect, for realistic self-confidence, for recognition of genuine achievement, and for the development of a positive self-image. Self-criticism and self-evaluation are basic to the development of independence, creativity and self-reliance. Therefore a natural procedure of evaluation in a non-threatening growth promoting climate the learner's intrinsic capacity for self-evaluation. Learners' ability to evaluate their own progress is the basis for correct assessments of progress in intrinsically motivated learning. In a natural process of growth through learning, evaluation of oneself is of primary importance. In a wholistic teaching paradigm based on the stimulation of learner interest and motivation, the methods of learner evaluation involve the shift from teacher evaluation to learner self-evaluation. The responsibility for assessment of progress in learning is transferrred from the teacher to the learner. Teachers' evaluations of learners' knowledge and understanding are based on the active participation of the learner in a process of self-evaluation.