Fred S. Keller’s “Good-bye teacher”

“This is a course through which you may move, from start to finish, at your own pace. You will not be held back by other students or forced to go ahead until you are ready. At best, you may meet all the course requirements in less than one semester; at worst, you may not complete the job within that time. How fast you go is up to you.”

Before actually forming the PSI theory, Fred Keller attmpted a series of experiments by designing courses that introduced the major principles of what was later called the Keller Plan.

Assigned to implement a course of psychology at the university of Brazilia in 1962, he soon realized that he was disatisfied by the conventional approaches. He then looked for a new method and what he came up with originally tested in 1963 as a short-term laboratory at the Univeristy of Columbia. The abrupt end of the Brazilia venture led him to the University of Arizona where he and prof J.G. Sherman begun a series of applications. (text up right is part of the hand out given to students)

Task analysis, terminal performance, opportunity for individualized progression is similar to programmed instruction, “but here”, Keller says “the sphere of action is different” because “there is personal interaction between the student and a peer”. Students are given also opportunity to to defend an “incorrect” answer.

In systems like these, and in the one I have centered on, the work of a teacher is at variance with that which has predominated in our time. His public appearances as classroom entertainer, expositor, critic, and debater no longer seem important. His principal job, as Frank Finger (1962) once defined it, is truly “the facilitation of learning in others.” He becomes an educational engineer, a contingency manager, with the responsibility of serving the great majority, rather than the small minority, of young men and women who come to him for schooling in the area of his competence.

Such a great text, I really enjoyed it.



Keller, F.S., 1968, ‘Good-bye teacher’, in Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis, No 1, pp. 79-89

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