Everything that we do comes down to our brain and the way we think. It has been at the heart of psychologist’s fascinations for years.
Ivan Pavlov was the first psychologist to focus upon behaviourism through his ‘Classic Conditioning Test’ His conclusions were that we can change the natural reflex of human and animals. Furthering Pavlov’s findings, B.F.Skinner concluded that all behaviours are learnt through experiences, operant conditioning, through his experiments in the Skinner Box.
Behaviourism can be monitored through the use of reinforcement, especially in the classroom. We, as teachers can use a number of techniques to increase behaviour for example;
- Presenting a positive stimulus (positive reinforcement) e.g- hugs,praise, rewards of some kind from homework
- The removal of an aversive stimulus (negative reinforcement) e.g- buying a toddler a treat in the supermarket to stop their whining
Furthermore, there can also be techniques used to decrease behaviour which can be used as part of behaviour management in a classroom. Including;
- An aversive stimulus is presented (Positive punishment) e.g – getting burned from touching a hot iron
- Isolation fro a reinforcer (Time – out) e.g- asking a child to stand outside the classroom to cool down
- The removal of a valued item (Response cost) e.g- TV/gaming/ ‘grounding’
However, there are many implications of these behavioural techniques. For example, If a child is isolated and sent out with the class, this can make the child feel like a ‘big man’ and they can repeat the actions for attention. These behaviour strategies also only dal with the behaviours and not the cores (doesn’t take into account of cognition)- why is it happening? is there any issues as to why the child is acting out? and also some children may start to manipulate the system and only behave until they receive a reward then act out.
However, Albert Bandura developed the Socio – Cognitive Theory and suggested that we learn from: environmental factors such as role models, instruction and feedback and also personal factors such as goals, sense of efficiency, attributes and process of self regulation.
In the 20th century, there was a very teacher led approach to education and children were seen as passive learners. Jean Piaget was a Swiss biologist who believed that children are not in fact mini adults but instead pass through 4 stages of development;
- Sensorimotor (0-2 years) – interaction with environment
- Pre-opertional ( 2-7 years) – representation of world symbolically
- Concrete Operational (7-12 years) – learning of rules – observation
- Formal Operational (12+ years) – focussing on the future – adolescent
Piaget also rejected any sense of authority and believed children develop more through peer interact. Of course, this proposed many implications within the classroom including; we must only teach children what they are ready to learn and treat every child individually and differently.
Within the 20th century, Lev Vygotsky also undertook experiments into the way a child mentally develops through thinking. Like Piaget, Vygotsky concluded that children acquire the tools of learning through social interactions. It is these interactions which build an ‘inner speech’ which then becomes thinking.
Neo-Piagetians explain Piaget’s stage theory in terms of information processing – so capacity and efficiency of processing. They have concluded that adults do have more capacity and efficiency and all that you sense you won’t necessarily perceive.