link: conditioning    

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               LEARNING THEORY IN THE TRADITIONAL BEHAVIOURAL PARADIGM:

                                CONDITIONED LEARNING; OR 'CONDITIONING' 

 theme:  During the twentieth century, educational research, educational psychology and educational theory of the so-called 'traditional' paradigm have been influenced primarily by the mechanistic and objective approach of scientific reductionism as applied to behavioural science ie. 'behaviourism'. The behavioural paradigm of education or  is based on  In the traditional behavioural paradigm, the teaching function is based on the premise that learning is a matter of replacement of one stimulus by another i.e. conditioned learning or 'conditioning'... assumed to be based on the separate functioning of the 'emotions' and the 'intellect'.

Behavioural psychology is less than a hundred years old and a product of European and American cultures. John B. Watson (1878-1958) was the founder of the new psychology and science of the human psyche or 'mind' and behaviour i.e. 'behavioural psychology'... 'behavioural science' i.e. 'behaviourism'. Watson represented the expressioof the American reaction against German Nazi rationalism. According to the principles of behaviourism human behaviours are learned through a mental process which substitutes one stimulus for another in conditioned responses i.e. 'conditioned learning' or 'conditioning'. The notion of conditioning was the basic premise of behaviourism which recognizes a limited number of normal 'consciousness states': the ordinary 'waking state' considered to be the most satisfactory for perception of reality and two 'sleeping states' - the 'dreaming state' and the 'non-dreaming state'. Watson promoted  behaviourism as the most objective science of human behaviour and described it as a "...a purely objective science of the mind which is an experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behaviour. Introspection forms no part of its methods." (Psychological Review 1913)

The 'behavioural paradigm'  has produced numerous psychotherapies for the treatment of non-adaptive behaviour problems supposedly originating from 'personality deficiencies' observable in the individual's overt behaviour. 

Mechanistic approach of behavioural paradigm: influence on educational theory In the behavioural paradigm of education, educational methodology has been directly influenced by the scientific methodology ...scientific process ...of logical empiricism with its bias towards completely 'objective' knowledge i.e. 'scientism' . In the paradigm of scientism educational research has been based on the mechanistic and objective approach of scientific reductionism. The value of knowledge is measured in terms of its objectives and its usefulness.  The 'objectives' of classwork and coursework are described in terms of the acquisition and measurement of 'objective' cognitive knowledge which can only be measured with the use of test-taking skills and test performance.  Behaviourism has influenced the field of educational psychology and the so-called 'traditional' educational theories...  formulated on the basis of the worldview of behavioural science... in the mechanical framework of industrialism and the objective framework of behaviourism.

Understanding of learning in terms of behavoural concepts  The behavioural paradigm is based on a set of assumptions which are based on an understanding of the learning process in terms of the principles of behaviourism. Research methods of behavioural science have been applied to the study of the learning process which is described in terms of behavioural concepts such as the replacement of one stimulus with another i.e. conditioned learning behaviouor 'conditioning'.  Conditioning is the basis for the exercise of learning by repetition and memorization i.e. 'rote learing'.  On the basis of the assumption that learning is a function of conditioning, it is believed possible to shape human behaviour to any desired form. The aims of education are formulated in terms of conditioning human beings... establishing those behaviour patterns or 'behavioral outcomes' which are considered desirable for social and political purposes.

Biology of conditioned learning ...the mechanism of the classical conditioning reflex, the simplest example of learning to associate two events called the 'mechanism of associative learning' or the 'pre-modulatory' mechanism. ...synaptic connection between two neurons is strengthened with the involvement of a third neuron - the 'modulatory' neuron. ...coincident electrical impulses in the pre-synaptic neuron and the modulatory neuron enhances transmitter release from the terminals of the presynaptic neuron without involving activity of the postsynaptic cell.

No concern for learner participation   Institutionalization of education within the behavioural paradigm imposes severe limitations on the learner's educational experience.  Little concern is shown for the active participation of the learner in the learning process. The psychological theories of behavioural science ignores the inner life thus severely restricting its scope.

In ignoring the individual's inner life, behavioural science imposes severe limitations on the perception of the psychology of the individual.

Limitations of behaviourism have dominated educational theory The limitations inherent in the 'science of behaviour' or 'behavioural psychology' have dominated educational theory. In the behavioural paradigm, education has been institutionalized within the limited framework of behavioural science and its ignorance of the learner's inner life. Emphasis is placed on the mechanics of learning and learning strategies such as competition, static and rigid processes, fragmentation of content, learning for content, authoritarian teaching, departmentalized learning, cultural uniformity and conformity, isolated teaching and learning environments, technologies of learning, behavioural outcomes, assessment of learner 'performance' on objective tests and so on.

Teaching methods in the behavioural paradigm  Teaching methods which are formulated in the behavioural paradigm with its ignorance of the learner's inner life offer an education which is limited in its scope. There is little or no concern for the learner's active participation in the learning process.

Teaching methods are devised with a view to rewarding desirable learning behaviour and punishing undesirable learning behaviour by means of a reward and punishment system of evaluation using  averages of points or 'grades'.

Teachers are made to believe that they are the primary authorities and judges in the assessment of learning. They decide what children should learn and how much. They emphasize specified 'learning outcomes' in predetermined 'lesson plans'. They promote learner evaluation on the basis of performance in 'objective tests'. They emphasize the mechanics of textbook knowledge and encourage rote memorization. They encourage learners to depend on extrinsic motivation in their pursuit of good grades for good learning behaviors.

Teaching methods are formulated with a view to condition the learner for desired purposes.

 Learners are encouraged to learn for someone else - parents, teachers, schools and the 'society'.

Implications for education Behavioural science is disqualified from making valid conclusions about an individual's potential for attaining optimal positive health and well-being because they fail to recognize learner's needs i.e. 'human needs'.

Behavioural science and behavioural psychology ignore the validity of other Eastern psychologies or 'consciousness disciplines'... which seem to be impossible to study objectively. They ignore those dimensions of consciousness which originate in the individual's thoughts and feelings. They fail to recognize the validity of the individual's subjective experience. They do not acknowledge the individual's potential for attaining a level of awareness which is needed for the educational benefits of all levels of consciousness...   science of connectedness or wholeness i.e. 'holistic science'.   'holistic education'...

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notes:

BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES AND THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM In the behavioural paradigm, the teaching function is based on the premise that learning is a matter of  conditioning.

 The psychological theories of behavioural science ignores the inner life thus severely restricting its scope. In ignoring the individual's inner life, behavioural science imposes severe limitations on the perception of the psychology of the individual. Behavioural science has produced a behavioural 'psychology' and numerous psychotherapies for the treatment of non-adaptive behaviour problems supposedly originating from personality 'deficiencies' which are observable in the individual's overt behaviour. Behavioural psychology recognizes only a limited number of normal consciousness states - dreaming sleep, nondreaming sleep, and the waking state.

 The ordinary waking state of consciousness is considered to be the most desirable dimension of the personality and the most satisfactory for an individual's perception of reality. Consequently it is believed that all psychological functioning and phenomena can be understood through objective analysis and that they can be codified and communicated through language. The limitations which are inherent in the 'science' of behaviour and behavioural psychology have dominated educational theory and the educational system. Educational theories have been formulated on the basis of the worldview of the behavioural sciences. For the past century, educational aims have been formulated in the mechanical framework of industrialism and the objective framework of behaviourism.

The aims of education and learning theory have been expressed in terms of establishing those behaviour patterns which are considered desirable for social and political purposes. In the paradigm of behavioural science, the 'behavioural paradigm' - also known as the 'traditional' paradigm - research methods of behavioural science have been applied to the study of the learning process. The behavioural paradigm is based on a set of assumptions which are based on an understanding of the learning process in terms of the principles of behaviourism. The learning process is described in terms of the behavioural concepts of 'conditioning' and 'conditioned behaviour'. The process of learning is assumed to be a function of conscious conditioning.

 Learning is thought to take place through a process of conditioning in the exercise of repetition and rote memorization.

On the basis of the assumption that learning is a function of conditioning, it is believed possible to shape human behaviour to any desired form. Educational aims are formulated in terms of conditioning human beings for desired purposes and behavioral outcomes. In the behavioural paradigm, education has been institutionalized within the limited framework of behavioural science and its ignorance of the learner's inner life. Emphasis is placed on the mechanics of learning and learning strategies such as competition, static and rigid processes, fragmentation of content, learning for content, authoritarian teaching, departmentalized learning, cultural uniformity and conformity, isolated teaching and learning environments, technologies of learning, behavioural outcomes, assessment of learner 'performance' on objective tests and so on.

Teaching methods are devised with a view to rewarding desirable learning behaviour and punishing undesirable learning behaviour by means of a reward and punishment system of evaluation using grades and grade averages.

 Teachers are made to believe that they are the primary authorities and judges in the assessment of learning. They decide what children should learn and how much. They emphasize specified 'learning outcomes' in predetermined 'lesson plans'. They promote learner evaluation on the basis of performance in 'objective tests'. They emphasize the mechanics of textbook knowledge and encourage rote memorization.

They encourage learners to depend on extrinsic motivation in their pursuit of good 'grades' for good learning behaviors.

Institutionalization of education within the limited behavioural paradigm imposes severe limitations on the learner's educational experience. Teaching methods are formulated with a view to condition the learner for desired purposes..

 Learners are encouraged to learn for someone else - parents, teachers, schools and the 'society'. Teaching methods which are formulated in the behavioural paradigm with its ignorance of the learner's inner life offer an education which is limited in its scope. There is little or no concern for the learner's active participation in the learning process. Behavioural science is disqualified from making valid conclusions about an individual's potential for attaining optimal positive health and well-being because they fail to recognize the most important aspects of human nature. Behavioural science and behavioural psychology ignore the other psychologies which seem to be impossible to study objectively. Consequently they ignore those dimensions of consciousness which originate in the individual's thoughts and feelings. They fail to recognize the validity of the individual's subjective experience.  They do not acknowledge the individual's potential for attaining a level of awareness which is needed for the educational benefits of consciousness.

 On the basis of the assumption that learning is a function of conditioning, it is believed possible to shape human behaviour to any desired form. Educational aims are formulated in terms of conditioning human beings for desired purposes and behavioral outcomes.

 In the behavioural paradigm, education has been institutionalized within the limited framework of behavioural science and its ignorance of the learner's inner life. Emphasis is placed on the mechanics of learning and learning strategies such as competition, static and rigid processes, fragmentation of content, learning for content, authoritarian teaching, departmentalized learning, cultural uniformity and conformity, isolated teaching and learning environments, technologies of learning, behavioural outcomes, assessment of learner 'performance' on objective tests and so on. Teaching methods are devised with a view to rewarding desirable learning behaviour and punishing undesirable learning behaviour by means of a reward and punishment system of evaluation using grades and grade averages