How does a child Learn - An Insight in to Learning Theory

A child can learn by any of these three basic types of learning, depending on our senses to process the information around us:

  1. Behaviourism: is an approach to psychology and learning that emphasizes observable measurable behaviour. Learning takes place as an act, based upon external stimuli and the absorption of knowledge. This knowledge is the actions that we take and is not guiding us to take action (mostly mistaken).

The learning is promoted due to repetition and positive reinforcement. Depending on the type of reinforcement ( positive/negative), the behaviour can lead to motivation / depression. Teaching methods that follow this pattern are skill and drill, questions and answers, guided practice, reward systems, and examinations. This is what we have in our regular CBSE / ICSE curriculum, which includes vocabulary, usage of formulae, etc., The key theorists, who proposed this model were Edward Thorndike, Ivan Pavlov, John Watson, etc.,

2. Cognitive Constructivism: The learning takes place here by inputting information to the brain and the brain processes it, stores it in memory and outputs it in the form of learned capability. The learning here is promoted by facilitating resources to the students and it is the work of the students to learn from the examples. Thus, teacher here is a facilitator. The learning takes place based on the individual capabilities. Thus, the learning environment should support multiple perspectives, knowledge construction, context-rich and experience-based activities. Thus, interactions and experiences between individuals promotes construtivism. Jean Piaget is considered to be the father of Cognitive Constuctivism.

3. Social Constructivism: Knowledge construction takes place by means of social and their environmental interactions. Lev Vygotsky is a pioneer who has made major contributions to this theory. According to him, learning will happen when we interact with the environment. An individual continues to learn until he is developed fully and stops learning when he is completely developed. Thus, the key for development is learning. Simple tasks are easy to learn and we pick up such tasks, while complex tasks are difficult to learn and that is what leads to frustration. He defined a zone of learning known as zone of proximal development, which happens to be a non comfort zone. If a learner is able to pass through this zone, he opts out in his career and can take up any challenging tasks in his life, but sometimes he can opt out too, losing the battle

Every learner should be facilitated by these learning methods, so that efficient learning takes place. The conventional methods of learning may not enable a child to be a successful citizen and this is one of the reasons, why students become disinterested in a job and search for activities that fuel their passion in their latter career.

These methods are in fact used by all our schools in the form of extra-curricular activities, but assessment of the same has not been observed. A child is rated as brilliant only based on his/her performance in the test, conducted every month and not by the interests / capabilities that a child can do. A thorough assessment of learning is very essential to understand the capabilities of a child. The assessment is made possible by some software apps. 

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