UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School laments the passing of emeritus professor George I. Brown, Jr. on April 9th at the age of 88. Brown retired from UCSB’s graduate school of education in 1992. He was instrumental in the creation of a masters and doctoral program in Confluent Education – a major variant in the humanistic education genre, with roots in Gestalt – in the mid-1960s. The confluent education program was influenced by Brown’s teaching workshops at Esalen on new paradigms of education. A Ford Foundation Grant in the late 1960s supported the creation of the Ford/Esalen Project in Confluent Education, and Brown spearheaded that program. His work was summarized in the book Human Teaching for Human Learning, which sold more than 50,000 copies in the education field and was republished in 1990 as a Penguin paperback. Brown also published the book The Live Education: Innovations through Confluent Education and Gestalt.
“George Brown was the father-figure of this program [Confluent Education]. He had the vision to pull together and apply to education some of the exciting ideas and experiences that were occurring in North America and Europe in the mid- and late 1960s known as the Human Potential movement,” wrote Stewart B. Shapiro, one of Brown’s colleagues, in a 1997 article published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology. “Much of what was innovative in the confluent sense (e.g., Gestalt in the classroom, human interaction groups in industry) has now become part of the mainstream in some public school settings. Humanistic practices under labels different from confluent or humanistic have appeared and have been maintained, as in Cooperative Learning and the Self-Esteem movements.”
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