How Not to be a Pavlovian Lab Rat

This is my final weighted blog of the science of education module. I have collaborated the ideas of the previous weeks and synthesised my own model of education based on them.

Barky: Science of Education


Whether it was Pavlov’s dog, Thorndyke’s cat or Skinner’s rat (Miltenberger, 2004), behaviourism can be a governing principle.  Differing reinforcers including grades or social reinforcers such as the spelling bee do shape our learning behaviour, while drill and practise are the academic representation of stimulus reward pairing (Skinner, 1953).

Such learning does have a place in education. Tournaki (2003) demonstrated students using rote compared with principled strategies to learn addition. The rote learning predicted an increase in post test and transferable task scores, but the principled strategy predicted the highest scores in the heretofore mentioned variables. This is also in line with Willingham’s (2006) research describing how the foundational semantic knowledge is a springboard to skills such as critical thinking, or more automated processing of intellectual functions.

The damning factor of the behavioural paradigm is determinism. It says you are the product of your environment; it is entirely systematic…

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