The essence of this reflective post can also be found in the discussion forum for Module 5. Yet I want to enrich and elaborate my thoughts on this issue. The question addressed is whether or not behaviourist strategies be discouraged or banned from schools. I have to say “no” though careful consideration must be employed.
Though behavioral approaches to learning may be counter-productive when used excessively or inappropriately, its impact and significance into the present world are well established. We can’t just deny the influence that early behaviourists have left in our learning process.
Again, it’s just a matter of being aware on the proper use of such techniques. When it comes to rewards as reinforcers, I believe most of us (if not all) have experienced to be rewarded in school during our pre-school to kindergarten years. Some may even testify of receiving such until Grade 1 or 2. Personally, I will never forget how these star marks and simple items boosted my motivation to study harder. Yes they were extrinsic motivators in nature but they did important roles in firing my intrinsic drive to do better. This act I guess is still being practiced nowadays as I observe among the young students around me. It’s a common observation of mine to see some pre-schoolers having stars stamped on their hands. How would you feel if you receive this kind of reward which later you can boast to your parents? More often than not, it will also be followed by another reward from the parents- attention and joyful facial expression that somehow lighten a learner’s day.
Likewise, the “conditioning” of the environment in an effort to make it fun and enjoyable place of learning can also be attributed to the behavioral strategy. Most new students (pre-schoolers and/or Kindergarten) experience anxiety and fear during the first day of school- different faces, unfamiliar environment, away from parents and comfort figures. Since separation anxiety can still be observed in this age-group, making a first impression that “school is like a home” where everyone will be treated nicely is a good step to counteract the common notion existing among these young learners. The classroom being the stimulus must be conditioned well to help in eliciting a good response. When the teacher has become successful on this part, it will be a good start to gain the trust and confidence of these students.
Behavioral approaches to teaching and facilitating learning are inevitably important. Most teachers may not be aware that they are already employing these techniques, but in their own understanding they know that these contribute a lot among their students. Therefore, we still have to take advantage on this end.