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Subdivision for Education and Humanistic Psychology

The Subdivision for Education and Humanistic Psychology of the German Educational Research Association (GERA/DGfE), which is an active group of researchers, teachers and practitioners, is based on concepts derived from progressive education as well as on fundamental assumptions of Humanistic Psychology and transfers it into current pedagogic contexts. It is based on integrative and transpersonal concepts, too.
For the progressive education movement, which was developed at the beginning of the 20th century and had its heydays during the time between the two World Wars, the starting point of all pedagogic reflections and interventions are the needs, interest and capacities of the trainees to achieve the central goal of the self-determined development of the personality. Several important progressive pedagogues have won great merits establishing the theoretical foundation and realizing this principle, falling back on many substantiated philosophic, pedagogic and psychological concepts with distinct lines of tradition e.g. Phenomenology, Anthropology – based on Jewish and Christian traditions, Humanism, Existentialism, Gestalt Psychology and many more referring their basic assumptions on the creation of personality-supporting pedagogic contexts. The Subdivision for Education and Humanistic Psychology is feeling obliged to this line of tradition and works on current further development of this theory traditions.
The Humanistic Psychology, which has been developed in the USA especially after World War II and which is generally considered to be the third power within the main psychological scientific movements historically just like progressive pedagogic with its anthropological general assumptions contrast with mechanistic and structural concepts of man which are the basis of behaviorism and psychoanalytical models.
The basic assumptions are

  • That a person is a psycho-biologically autonomous entity in social and ecological interdependence i. e. it is an unique self-determined person uniting body, soul and mind which is socially embedded influencing and being influenced by its surroundings;
  • That a person has an immanent potential of aspiration for growth and self-fulfillment i. e. that it moves towards its own moral values, which are developed within its sociality in inter-dependencies between its inwardness and outwardness, and that it is able to protect and to trespass its own boundaries;
  • That a person updates itself in the presence i. e. it executes its self-fulfillment in the Here and Now – starting from current perceptions. In this, the awareness of the subjective reality is of fundamental importance because it is the starting point of all intentions;
  • That a person is responsible for the consequences of its decisions and choices towards itself and its fellow human beings i. e. its freedom in interdependence is always connected with responsibility.

These assumptions are also the starting point of the creation and reflection of situations in which people meet with the intention to learn, teach, accompany and consult in Humanistic Psychology and Education. This is achieved by continuing to follow traditional concepts, examining their efficacy as well as integrating new impulses and condensing them to into current principals. A detailed description of the theory lines and foundations of our research and practical work can be found in the text “Historic roots and development of Humanistic Pedagogic – from Progressive Pedagogic to Humanistic and Integral Pedagogic” by Heinrich Dauber (2009) in “Basics of Humanistic Pedagogic”, published by Klinkhardt in the Proceedings on Humanistic Pedagogic and Psychology”, 2nd edition.

About the subdivision

The subdivision exists since 1995, initially as a temporary working group and since 1997 as a subdivision of the German Educational Research Association (GERA/DGfE). It ist part of the Division for Differential Education Research.


Prof. Dr. Ulrike Graf | Chairperson
University of Education Heidelberg
Department of Educational and Social Sciences
Educational Sciences/Primary School Education
Keplerstraße 87
D-69120 Heidelberg
Tel: +49 (0)6221 477-502
Mail: ulrike.graf@ph-heidelberg.de

Dr. phil. Nils Altner | Vice Chairperson
KEM | Evangelische Kliniken Essen-Mitte/Universität Duisburg-Essen
Clinic & Professorship for Natural Healing and Integrative Medicine
Workgroup Health & Prevention
Am Deimelsberg 34a
D-45276 Essen
Tel: +49 (0)201 9770 9815
Mail: nils.altner@uni-due.de
www.uni-due.de/naturheilkunde | www.achtsamkeit.com

Dr. phil. Katja Staudinger | Treasurer
University of Education Heidelberg
Institute of Educational Sciences
General Pedagogy/School Pedagogy
Keplerstr. 87
D-69120 Heidelberg
Tel: +49 (0)6221 477-274
Mail: staudinger@ph-heidelberg.de


We are looking forward to receiving your enquiries or comments! Please send us an E-Mail: ulrike.graf@ph-heidelberg.de.