Born to Learn by Richard John Stapleton

Born to Learn

A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning
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A refresher course in Transactional Analysis emphasizes its application in the classroom.

Transactional Analysis was invented by psychiatrist Eric Berne and then popularized in his classic book, Games People Play, originally published in 1964. Stapleton (De-Gaming Teaching and Learning: How to Motivate Learners and Invite OKness, 1979), a retired professor, acknowledges Berne’s contribution by providing a salient overview of TA principles, including ego states and “OKness,” in the early chapters of this book. The focus of the content, though, is on applying TA to “the total learning process” in this volume, updating material that appeared in Stapleton’s previous work. While the author suggests his new book could apply generally to organizations and businesses, it seems most relevant to educators. Four of the eleven chapters concentrate on such specifics as classroom layouts, teaching methods, tests, grading, classroom management, and classroom games. The psychology behind classroom games is particularly intriguing; “classrooms are inherently Gamey,” writes Stapleton, “because of the natural presumption that students need teachers to help them, which more or less creates a Drama Triangle situation.” Perhaps most enticing is the author’s description of the “Classroom De-Gamer,” a “roulette”-type device he created to effectively spread out student anxiety. Students spin the De-Gamer’s arrow to randomize being called on. With the De-Gamer’s proper usage, “all ego states in students can see and feel that they are not being Persecuted or Rescued by a teacher playing a Game when they are called on to respond to classroom requirements and challenges.” This idea alone should spark a creative teacher’s rethinking of the traditional classroom environment, but it is just one of a number of alternative learning concepts covered in this enlightening book. Stapleton uses the final chapter to reflect on his career from the perspective of a retired 75-year-old looking back on chapters he wrote as a 38-year-old. Somewhat loose, free-wheeling, and maybe a bit beyond the book’s scope, Stapleton’s parting shot more broadly concerns the states of students, universities, society, politics, and the world.

Illuminating, if quirky at times; insightful, eye-opening observations about the interplay of teachers and students in the classroom.

Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-692-58433-0
Page count: 274pp
Publisher: Effective Learning Publications
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2016