Ginott's Congruent Communication Theory in Classrooms

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  • 0:05 Communication in the Classroom
  • 0:50 Ginott's Congruent…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Effective communication is key in the classroom. This lesson explores Ginott's congruent communication theory, including its three tenets for classroom behavior.

Communication In The Classroom

Whatever age we are, we go to school to learn. And no matter the type of student, learning depends on good communication. Take a moment to think about your experiences as a student in the classroom. Did you ever struggle to understand or communicate with the instructor? What were some of the barriers in communication? Perhaps the teacher was very strict and that made you fear punishment. Or maybe the environment in the classroom was too competitive and that made it hard for you to ask questions.

These examples represent potential barriers to communication in the classroom. Communication barriers can make it difficult to learn. Ginott's congruent communication theory seeks to eliminate barriers to communication and learning in the classroom.

In this lesson, we'll take a closer look at that theory.

Ginott's Congruent Communication Theory

The congruent communication theory was developed by Haim Ginott, a professor of psychology and a former elementary school teacher. His theory of congruent communication avoids confrontation and seeks to validate the feelings of others. Ginott's theory is based on his belief that the behavior and language of the instructor sets the tone for learning in the classroom. The theory is founded on the principles of humanistic psychology that focus on acceptance and validation as essential for healthy self-esteem.

Ginott's approach assumes that for effective or congruent communication to occur, students must feel accepted and valued in the classroom. In order for this to occur, teachers must abide by three tenets for classroom behavior.

1. Teachers should demonstrate harmonious communication with students in the classroom.

According to Ginott, harmonious communication is communication that sets brief yet clear expectations for behavior in the classroom. For example, a teacher might tell students that they are permitted to use their textbooks to complete an assignment, but that they are not allowed to use the Internet to do so. This represents harmonious communication.

Furthermore, harmonious communication focuses on the problem behavior rather than on the student who is demonstrating it. Imagine that John, a student in an elementary school classroom, is disrupting the class because he does not remain in his seat. According to Ginott, the teacher should explain that the behavior of getting in and out of one's seat disrupts her instead of saying that John is disrupting her. This exemplifies harmonious communication, focusing on the problem rather than John's disruption.

2. The second tenet of congruent communication theory states that teachers should demonstrate behaviors that invite and encourage cooperation in the classroom.

This principle may sound like common sense, but let's use some examples to investigate it more deeply. Have you ever been in a classroom where the teacher raises his or her voice to be heard when the students are too noisy? How do the students respond? Does it quiet the classroom? Or perhaps a teacher reprimands a student by demanding that he or she pay attention. How well does that usually work?

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