top of page

Adlerian Concepts: Education

Xenia J. Kozlov

American schools from Adlerian perspective

This assignment is especially interesting for me because I am a newcomer, a student, and a mom, so I have the opportunity to assess American education from inside, but also provide a fresh look. My very first point is that democratic, socially-oriented, flexible teaching style in American schools has plenty of advantages, and we can see the results – American education is one of the top prestigious educations in the world (Master and More, 2019).

I believe, the American educational system is a good match with Adlerian conception.

I am going to give a couple examples of how American education reflects Adlerian values. First of all, respect the child and understanding a child's strengths and weaknesses. When I registered my first son for Elementary school, I used to think that everyone gets irritated with his behavior. I saw that in Russian pre-schools, on playgrounds, etc. So I was nervous and ready to shush my noisy and “poorly mannered” (these words I heard in Russia) boy. And I was surprised when one of the teachers in the registration room approached us and said, “What a cute boy! He is spinning, and spinning, like dancing!”

I was shocked with so friendly treatment, and since that time I am in love with American schools. The principal of the school which Kirill attended suggested that we can have a kind of excursion, and I was surprised to see something which does not even remind the classroom I used to see. Rather, it looked like an office. Nothing excess but very comfortable room, a nice library, interesting projects on the wall, on the ceiling. If I know Adlerian principles that time, I would say that it is a holistic, flexible, democratic, approach where kids learn to respect themselves and respect others, learn to be responsible and self-determined, learn to be socially-embedded. One of the main things Elementary school focuses on (said the principal) is social learning and forming routines which will be helpful in Middle school. I also loved the feeling of a closed little world but this world was connected to other similar little worlds! Mixing students every year also seems to be a good idea, because it prevents children from forming friend-or-foe relationships. The only problem we had to solve with our son – his mental health issues. Stress, which he experienced when arriving in a new country, going to school, and the birth of the younger brother, has provoked aggravation of what we earlier thought was just a little tricky trait of character. Emmons and Belangee (2018) wrote about difficulties that kids with mental disabilities face in the school – this is true. But even after spending 8 years in the United States, I think that attitude and treatment to my older son are much better than it might be in a common Moscow school.

As a student, I've met several not disadvantages but inconveniences. First is, usually, advisors and consultants speak about the program as if I knew everything about the American educational system. I mean, organization and management are usually oriented on American people, so I felt some inequality. Probably, this situation may be solved by writing instructions on different languages – this would be an Adlerian approach when people for creating commonwealth take care of others. The second disadvantage is pricing for education, of course. This not only creates inequality but also provokes extra vertical movement, when students build their hierarchy according to whose school is more expensive. This will impair social justice and thus students may find themselves not ready for becoming socially responsible practitioners (Yee, Stevens, & Schulz, 2016).

Concluding, I want to say that, just like Adlerian conception, the American educational system may become common all over the world because of meeting requirements of globalization: diversity, flexibility, respect and trust, commonwealth and democracy.


Emmons, J. M., & Belangee, S. E. (2018). Understanding the Discouraged Child Within the School System: An Adlerian View of the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Journal of Individual Psychology, 74(1), 134–153. Retrieved from

Master and More – the Master’s portal (2019). Top 10 countries with the best education systems in the world for 2019. Retrieved from

Yee, T. T. L., Stevens, C. R., & Schulz, L. L. (2016). Exploring Master’s Students’ Social Justice Consciousness through Experiential Group: An Adlerian Approach. Journal of Individual Psychology, 72(2), 90–103. Retrieved from

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page