Unconditional Positive Regard

Twitter is a great tool to get oneself not only informed but updated. Yesterday I came across this tweet and went on a trail of discovery.

According to the link, Unconditional Positive Response or UPR, is a great tool to prevent persistent negative reinforcement (which is sure to happen when we use “shh!” or “shush” to control behaviour in the classroom). Interesting. The article had also provided an outline of what UPR was. This is what prompted me to look for UPR.

Carl R Rogers, the American humanist psychologist is the propounder of UPR and this is central to his theories. He provides insight into what he meant by UPR:
Unconditional refers to holding ‘no conditions of acceptance…. it is at the opposite pole from a selective evaluative attitude.’ (p. 225*)
Positive offers ‘warm acceptance…’ (p. 225*)
Regard means ‘a caring’, here the care the therapist shows for the client – without being possessive or without expecting any fulfilment of personal agenda. (p. 225*)
In a nutshell it just means to accept a person and give support irrespective of what he/she says/does. Acceptance of a person just as he or she is. I think this concept has a wonderful bearing in the field of education.

How can we use UPR in the classroom? Speak firmly but with warmth. Threats, warnings, one upmanship and through that creating power struggles within classrooms are a big no no. After all we adults must show our mettle with our equals – fellow adults. Not with our students. Accept our pupils. Recognize each one of them as individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses. No comparison of one with the other. No insults and humiliations. Provide a very supportive climate that will tell them that we care. Genuinely care. This will create engagement. Accountability for learning. A caring bond with a student will convey that you believe and have faith in him/her.

I think UPR is absolutely essential in today’s world. It is a parenting necessity. A must have for the classroom teacher. When the home and school fronts work in tandem, we can create a new breed of young people – those who have empathy, compassion and of course unconditional positive regard! And that should augur a peaceful, gentle world!!

Let’s strive for this…


*Rogers, C.R. (1959), A Theory of therapy, personality, and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centred framework, by C R Rogers

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