In a recent article in the New York Times, The author describes the importance of contact between teachers and students as being the central factor contributing to the success of any learning experience.
We often forget the importance of interpersonal contact within the educational process. Newborn infants require extensive human contact or regress into anaclytic ( an often deadly 'failure to thrive syndrome) depression. According to research and theories developed by pioneers in the field of child development, like Margaret Mahler and D.W. Winnicott, mother/child interaction continues to be an essential factor in healthy emotional development, throughout the progressive stages of object relationships and ego development.
Why then is it so surprising that many of the newer educational designs, which are inspired by a business model that focuses only on content delivery, rather than a psychological model that stresses the importance of student/teacher interaction, are doomed to failure?
There are also interesting parallels in psychotherapeutic models for treatment of emotional dysfunction. We are learning that the treatment modalities that focus exclusively on medication or behavioral techniques are less effective, long term, than models that include an element of personal therapeutic contact. Interactive psychotherapies that embrace an understanding of ‘therapeutic alliance’ and ‘positive transference’ have been proven to be more effective in achieving long term, positive results. Clients are more likely to grow within this interactive format than those who simply take medication (often for the rest of their lives without an adequate understanding of long term consequences) or learn a few ‘techniques’ (through CBT or DBT) and are then considered ‘cured’ by their insurance companies!