Learning can basically be defined as the process of observing and collecting new information; it refers to making changes in the existing knowledge bank, improvising, experimenting and working on the present set of skills, values and opinions/ideas which usually lead to a permanent change in our behavior. Compared to other beings, we as humans have by far the best capability to learn and adapt ourselves to new situations. A step by step process, learning entails the three components of listening, understanding and successfully showing the learnt thing via our behavior. There are many kinds of learning. We can learn things by rote though it is not considered such a good form of learning as chances of forgetting things remain quite high. Then there is the innate learning which comes coded in our DNA. Our natural instincts are quite shaped by the knowledge that flows in our very blood. We are ‘encultured’, we learn in formal and informal ways at school and by life itself. With so many forms of learning, and the impact that it has with respect to the overall progress of the entire human race, it is imperative that we make education an efficacious, practical and constructive process.
Learning methodologies practiced at the classroom level:
As intelligent humans, we all learn by association. In fact this forms the very basis of how we begin the whole process of learning. Learning begins at birth by what is known as an object oriented approach. As little children we all associate objects we perceive around ourselves to our feelings and emotions. For example, a child would link the person of his mother with feelings of security and warmth. Her absence would automatically make him cry. He might similarly relate the sound of a particular toy with something that excites or makes him happy. Association is a defining process that helps condition a child to adjust to his/her surroundings.
As the name indicates, Observational learning take place all the time we look, watch and analyze things. Here we learn by closely perceiving the behavior of other people, events and phenomenon. Attention to a particular behavior pattern or happening, Retention of the process or sequence of the events in that happening/process, and Initiation of the very same behavior by you which mainly entails you being able to reproduce or repeat that act are all essential components of observational form of learning. A common example would be how we try to cook in the same way after watching a cooking show, or how we learn to dance or move our bodies in a certain way as we copy martial art experts. Here, we copy model behavior.
The word conditioned implies ‘habituated or made accustomed to’. Classical conditioning refers to conditioning a person to a Conditioned Response (CR) in response to a Conditioned Stimulus (CS) even when the CS is given alone. This is done by pairing an Unconditioned Stimulus (US) with a CS to extract a CR. For example, the military training that cadets receive is a classic example of conditioning. Along with this, reinforcements (rewards and encouragement) and punishments foster and inhibit the behavior.
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