What events constitute learning and what events do not? As a learner yourself, what are your ideas about learning?
For me, learning is a conscious process of acquiring new or upgrading knowledge, beliefs, skills, values, behaviors and preferences. It is a process that takes time, produces change that are relatively permanent and is inspired by motivation.
I believe that everything we do and experience constitute learning. For example, when we want to improve ourself (serves as motivation), we acquire information or upgrade whatever existing knowledge, value, skill etc. we have of ourself and work on it in x amount of time that eventually result to change.
What is the difference between maturation and learning; what is its role in learning?
Maturation is the result of one’s biological growth. Meaning, changes in one’s capacity to think, act and develop are natural occurrences that happen within the person’s lifetime. People grow old and nothing can stop that. This is the first stage in human development.
Learning, on the other hand, is a process that helps one’s maturation through education, training and experience.
I read that 85% of brain development happens during the first 5 years of a child’s life and that playing is their first form of learning (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/learning). As a child gets older and gets exposed to education/training/practice, his/ her level of thinking ( brain development) also matures, thus, allowing him/ her to understand more complex ideas and emotions, and allowing him/her to adapt or cope with different situations.
When we talk of maturation, we should also not limit it to brain development only since the rest of our body parts are equally important to learning. We must remember that it involves physical or hands-on training and experiences as well and having a complete and functioning body would allow us to achieve optimal learning.
Theory and practice. How can understanding learning theories refine (help improve) educational practice? (Describe the nature of learning theories and their role in guiding classroom practice.) Give specific examples to clarify your points.
Learning theories are conceptual frameworks that describe how information is absorbed, processed, and retained during learning (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_theory_(education)). There are several varieties of these learning theories that will be mentioned below based on http://www.brookes.ac.uk/services/ocsld/resources/theories.html
as well as my attempt to give specific examples of each.
Sensory Stimulation theory- according to this theory, our senses, when stimulated play a vital role in learning. It also mentions that 75% of learning is done through seeing, about 13% through hearing and 12% for all other senses (Laird, 1985). This means that given the lack of one sensory organ, learning may still take place as in the case of Ms. Rachel Ambubuyog ( one of the speakers in a forum that I attended in Assumption, Antipolo) Ms. Ambubuyog lost her eyesight at a very young age but managed to excel and exceed everyone’s expectation despite her condition. She, herself, said that it was with the help of her other senses that allowed her to live a “normal” life. It is important to note too, that Ms. Ambubuyog preferred to be treated like any ordinary student in class and was not given special treatment that helped in her holistic development.
Reinforcement theory was developed by the behaviourist school of psychology, notably by B.F. Skinner earlier this century (Laird 1985, Burns 1995).
According to this theory, one can learn through positive reinforcement whether verbal or not. I actually believe that encouraging words or giving ‘rewards’ can lead to learning as it promotes a positive behavior as opposed to giving negative reinforcements or punishments. A good example of this is when I give encouraging feedback to my child. I feel that she develops her confidence and that she repeats the positive behavior that is learned.
Facilitation theory (the humanist approach).
Carl Rogers and others have developed the theory of facilitative learning. The basic premise of this theory is that learning will occur by the educator acting as a facilitator, that is by establishing an atmosphere in which learners feel comfortable to consider new ideas and are not threatened by external factors (Laird 1985.)
I concur with the idea of this theory that human beings have the natural eagerness to learn and that teachers, as facilitators of learning, have the role of listening to the learners’s feelings and not just focus on the course itself. I believe that it is only with a clear understanding of the learner that a teacher can be effective with his/her methods of teaching.
Do you agree with Huitt’s (2011) view that “teaching is not giving knowledge or skills to students”? Elaborate.
I find it difficult to agree with this statement 100%. How can teaching NOT be “giving knowledge”? I remember that when I would introduce a new topic to my grade one students back then, I would define the topic first and then give examples afterwards (no matter how basic the topic is) prior to giving them “guided opportunities” to give examples of their own. I would like to believe that the mere thought that I introduced something new to them should be considered as an “act of giving knowledge”.
How will teachers who share his view that “teaching is the process of providing guided opportunities for students“ do things differently from those who believe that teaching is “giving knowledge or skills to students”?
Personally, I agree that teaching is really a process of providing students guided opportunities to learn. However, I also believe that providing those guided opportunities should take a back seat to giving information or knowledge. My logic is quite simple. How can a student be expected to perform an activity without knowing what the activity is or how to do it? Even if say, we let our students experiment on something before introducing the topic, do we not explain first how they should do the experiment? When we give them those instruction, we are already giving them knowledge on how the activity should be performed.
Let it also be said that I am absolutely against “spoon-feeding” students. I simply recognize the importance of providing instructions clearly because these instructions help them carry on whatever discovery they may have of learning.