When spending time within any primary classroom, it is evident that there are different types of learners and that a lesson is planned to support and encourage all types of learning. However, it is when teaching that it is essential that these leaning styles are understood and clearly planned for in order to deliver an effective lesson.
There are three main learning styles which directly influence the way a teacher plans, delivers and then assesses any learning of the children.
Behaviourism, in education, is based on a change of knowledge through controlled stimulus/response conditioning. The learner is reliant upon a teacher for the acquisition of knowledge, therefore the teacher must have a wide subject knowledge and constantly be observing, measuring and modifying behavioural changes to steer the learning in the directed way. Behaviourism focus on behaviours that can be observed only.
Within behaviourism, there are two types of conditioning, Classical conditioning where behaviour (response) is directly correlated to stimulus and is almost like a reflex reaction to the stimulus and Operant condition where behaviour is learnt through reinforcement either by reward (positive) or punishment (negative). Both types of conditioning are evident within the primary classroom.
Behaviourism was the dominant perspective on teaching until the 1960’s and was evident in didactic teaching, where all learning is knowledge based and is very much led by the teacher. Knowledge and skills to be learnt are chosen by the teacher and direct transmission of knowledge results in children learning. These concepts have led to the coined phrase ‘children are empty vessels to be filled with knowledge’. The common image of a classroom was until the 1960’s that of a teacher at the front of the room dictating to rows of children who would learn through repetition.
It is often more common during a Numeracy lesson to see forms of conditioning, as main concepts require rote learning, such as multiplication facts or time tables. Children learn to recite these almost as if they were a reflex reaction, they become to learn that 1 x 5 = 5, 2 x 5 = 10 etc. When Pavlov taught his dogs to salivate, he did this through a series of steps, bell rings, dog gets food, dog salivates, this is repeated until action is learnt and the experiences are paired and soon the dog will salivate when the bell is heard, the food is the reward. When using behaviourism in the classroom this pattern used by Pavlov can also be seen, children asked to recite tables. However, it is classical conditioning which explains most people’s fears and anxieties regarding school, for example being stood in front of a room of people who are waiting and expectant of a delivery of knowledge, fills me with anxiety which can be linked to being stood at the front of the classroom, in front of my peers, who were expecting my reciting of learnt number facts. It is theses involuntary behavioural links which we do not...