Learning Theory: Behaviorism | Part 1

UPBRINGING! That’s what instantly comes to my mind when I think of behaviorism.

As is obvious, children – though inherently quite uncorrupt in their manifestations – wouldn’t know how to discriminate positive from negative… and so, can get innocently drawn towards a negative act as much as they do towards a positive one. For them, it’s just an experience and an exciting one at that. Period.

So, how do we channelize them? We explain why and how it’s not okay for them to hit other kids, for instance. We cajole them not to repeat the mistake when we see them perform an action replay. And, we chide them when we catch them in the notorious act yet another time.

Put it simply, our moral agenda towards our children remains unflinchingly singular. We want their behavior to change from ‘bad’ to ‘good’. Period.

Now, cut to a plant atmosphere…

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Can we afford people causing themselves (and/or others) grievous injuries because of their ‘incorrect behavior’? We can’t even imagine the affordance. So, we bring in compliance training and make it mandatory because we want them to ‘behave’ in a particular way.

Now, here’s an interesting twist to the story! We need a behavior based outcome, alright! But we may choose to design the training program on a constructivist approach – which I intend to reflect on in a subsequent post – to let our audience explore and find out for themselves the positive and dire consequences of their actions in a safe environment. But that in no way dilutes the ultimate goal of the program. It pretty much remains uni-dimensional in that it needs to train people to behave on a pre-determined pattern.

Now, that adequately explains why the underlying learning theory that drives any compliance training exercise is behaviorism.

Awright now… how do we consolidate our grip on this learning theory?

Let’s reflect on this question in the next post.

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The earlier posts connected to this discussion are here:

  1. Learning Design Basics: Introduction
  2. Learning Design Basics: Definition, the take-off point!
  3. Learning Design Basics: Bifurcating Pedagogical Content Knowledge
  4. Learning Design Basics: The Coveted Side of Theory