Knowledge and Integration of Education Theories

KNOWLEDGE AND INTEGRATION OF EDUCATION THEORIES 14

Knowledgeand Integration of Education Theories

Knowledgeand Integration of Education Theories

Theimportance of education cannot be gainsaid as far as the quality oflife that an individual eventually leads is concerned. More oftenthan not, it is acknowledged that the quality of life of anindividual will be directly related to the level of education that heor she had. This would offer a perfect explanation on the increasedtrend for parents to look for the best schools and strive to givetheir children the best education that they can afford. Nevertheless,scholars have been striving to come up with explanations regardingthe manner in which learning occurs in the contemporary humansociety’s education. This is as a result of the recognition of thefact that performance also comes in handy in determining the level ofeducation that an individual eventually reaches. Numerous theories ofeducation and learning have been crafted to explain this phenomenon,each of which comes with specific assertions and assumptions.

Discussionof the theories/ Literature Review

AlbertBandura, in his Social Learning Theory, underlines the notion thatbehavior is learnt from one’s environment via observationallearning process. He opined that the human beings are not passive butactive information processors who think about particularrelationships, as well as their behavior and consequences. Indeed,there is absolutely no way that observational learning can take placeunless the cognitive processes are functioning at that particulartime. Essentially, children observe the behavior of the individualsthat are around them, internalize or encode the behavior, after whichthey copy or imitate the behavior that they saw. This is doneirrespective of the appropriateness of the behavior to their gender.Of course, there are other processes that are involved in thedetermination of the likelihood that a child reproduces behaviordeemed right for its gender. The child will first imitate or attendto the people who he or she feels are similar to him or her. Inessence, the child has a higher likelihood of imitating behavior thatis modeled by individuals of the same sex (Kitsantas et al, 2000).The people around the child would then respond to the imitatedbehavior either with punishment or reinforcement. In instances wherethe child imitates the behavior of the model and is rewarded, thebehavior would be rewarded (Kitsantas et al, 2000). Thirdly, thechild considers the consequences that befall other people in makingdecisions on whether he or she should copy their actions or behavior.This is seen as vicarious reinforcement and relates to attachement toparticular models that have qualities that are rewarded. Childrenoften have varied models with whom they identify. The individuals maybe within their immediate world like siblings and parents or could bepeople that they see on TV and other forms of the media (McKechnie,1997). The key motivation or incentive to identify with certainmodels revolves around the notion that they possess a certain qualitythat the child admires or would like to have. Identification takesplace with another individual and revolves around the adoption of theobserved beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviors of the individualthat the child is seeking to imitate or with whom he or sheidentifies.

Ofcourse, this theory is seen as much more appropriate for behaviorrather than explaining the manner in which education takes place.Nevertheless, an examination of the conditions that are espoused asnecessary for effective modeling demonstrates clearly that the theoryis perfectly applicable in the class environment (Kolb &amp Whishaw,1998). One of the key conditions is attention, with scholarsunderline the fact that there are varied factors that would enhanceor reduce the amount of attention that an individual pays to aparticular behavior including functional value, distinctiveness,prevalence and valence, as well as complexity (Holden, 1991). Othersthat affect attention are the personal characteristics of anindividual including past reinforcement, perceptual set, sensorycapacities and arousal level (Meyer &amp Dusek, 1979). The secondcondition is retention or rather the remembrance of the things thatthe child paid attention to, which could include cognitiveorganization, motor rehearsal, symbolic rehearsal, mental images,symbolic coding and cognitive images (Holdern et al, 1990). The thirdelement is reproduction of the image, which could include elementssuch as physical capabilities, as well as self-observation ofreproduction. Lastly, effective modeling takes place where there issufficient motivation or a proper reason for imitation includingimagined incentives or even the vicarious reinforcement andtraditional behaviorism (Holdern et al, 1990).

Ofcourse, this theory creates a simplistic connection between theenvironment within which a child is brought up and the form oflearning that takes place. Essentially, the learning capacity of achild was similar across all stages of life, with the environmentplaying a role in determining whether the child learns or not(Holden, 1991). Piaget, however, felt that the development of achild’s thinking is not entirely smooth rather there exists certainpoints in which it takes off and goes to entirely new capabilitiesand areas (O’Bryan &amp Boersma, 1971). In his cognitivedevelopment theory, Piaget noted that children often gave differentanswers from those of older individuals and opined that this was theresult of different thought patterns rather than being dumber. Thereare two crucial elements of his cognitive development theoryincluding assimilation and accommodation. Piaget recognized the rolethat the environment plays in shaping the learning of an individualand noted that behavior was, essentially, an adaptation to theenvironment which is controlled via mental organizations known asschemata that the individual uses in representing the world, as wellas designate action (Meyer &amp Dusek, 1979). Infants have inherentschema that operates at birth known as “reflexes”, which they usein adapt to the environment (O’Bryan &amp Boersma, 1971). Theseare eventually replaced by constructed schemata. In assimilation, theenvironment would be transformed or used so as to have it placedwithin the pre-existing cognitive structures, while accommodationinvolves the alteration of the cognitive structures so as to acceptthings that the environment places. Of course, the two processesoccur alternately and simultaneously in the life of an individual.Piaget underlined the fact that there exists varied stages incognitive development including sensorimotor stage (infancy),preoperational stage (toddler and early childhood), concreteoperational stage (which occurs at elementary and early adolescence),as well as formal operational stage. For each of these stages,intelligence would be demonstrated in varying ways (Piaget, 1952). Ofparticular note is the fact that a large number of pre-school andprimary programs are modeled around this theory (Egan &amp Judson,2008). The two key instructional techniques that are incorporated inthe theory are discovery learning, as well as offering support forthe developing interests that the child harbors. As much as Piagetrecommends that teachers and parents challenge the abilities of thechild, it is imperative that they do not present information andchallenges that are way beyond the level of the child (Piaget, 1958).Further, it would be recommended that the instructors use variedconcrete experiences so as to assist in the child’s learningincluding field trips, the use of manipulatives, as well as groupassignments so as to allow for the growth of other capabilities andexperience having other people’s perspectives pertaining to certainissues (Piaget, 1952). As much as the theory seems to be well foundedin research, there have been questions regarding its efficacy on someissues. Indeed, the assertion that biological development is the keydrive of movement from a particular stage to another has beenchallenged by data from a large number of cross-sectional studies onchildren in western cultures (Pascual-Leone, 1987). These studiesshow that the assertion may be applicable only for some stagesincluding the sensorimotor, preoperational and concrete operationsstages. However, data from other cross-sectional studies onadolescents demonstrates that not all individuals automatically getto the next cognitive stage as they mature biologically simply viainteracting with their environment (Piaget, 1994). Indeed, studieshave shown that only 30-35% of the adolescents get to the cognitivedevelopment stage pertaining to formal operations, with specialenvironments being required for a large number of adults andenvironments to get to this stage (Pascual-Leone, 1987).

Vygotsky,on the other hand, specifically states that child developmentprimarily results from interaction between an individual and thesocial environment. The interactions would involve individuals withwhom the individual interacts including teachers, parents, siblingsand classmates, as well as cultural artifacts like books, toys andculturally specific practices that a child engages in within theenvironment (Schneuwly, 1994). Vygotsky’s theorem underlines thenotion that children are active partners in each of the interactionsas they construct skills, attitudes, knowledge and interactionsrather than simply mirroring the world around them. In essence, theculture and history of a society in which the child grows up, coupledwith events that make up the personal history of the child largelydetermine the learning and development of a child, as well as themental tools that the child uses and the manner in which the child’smind is shaped by these tools (Spouse, 1998). Vygotsky opines thatlearning most effectively takes place in instances where new conceptsand skills that are taught are just about to emerge, a phenomenonthat he calls Zone of Proximal Development. Once this takes place,the child would not simply gain new knowledge but would make progressin the development, a concept that Vygotsky calls “learning leadsdevelopment (Schneuwly, 1994). However, scaffolding or assistancerequired so as to bring about the new concepts and skills in a ZPD ofthe child can take varied forms for children in varying ages. Forexample, mature make-believe play would support pre-school children’sdevelopment, in much the same way that formal instruction wouldsupport older students’ development (Egan &amp Judson, 2008). Inaddition, play is recognized as fundamental to the development of thechild and could include imaginary situations, acting out of roles, aswell as the rules that children are required to follow in instanceswhere they are acting out their pretend scenarios. In essence, it isimperative that the early childhood education concentrates on theinteractions and activities that are largely beneficial to learningamong young children.

Discussion

AlbertBandura’s social learning theory comes up as one of the mostfundamental theories in the contemporary human society. Itsrecognition of the role that the environment plays in shaping thelearning and development of the child is applicable in contemporaryhuman society. Indeed, scholars have noted or acknowledged thatchildren are active participants in learning (O’Bryan &ampBoersma, 1971). This means that they would not imply internalize thethings that or behaviors that they see within their socialenvironment but also make decision regarding whether or not they wantto imitate them (Smagorinsky, 2011).

Ofcourse, it should be recognized that the teachers and parents have akey role in determining the behaviors and elements that the childeventually seeks to imitate or take from the environment. This iswith regard to the positive and negative reinforcements or ratherrewards and punishment that they accord the child for any behaviorthat he or she imitates. However, it is also imperative that properrole models are allowed into the life of the child (Pepperberg,2002). Indeed, it may be acknowledged that as much as the child wouldexercise his independence in the selection of the role models that heor she would seek to imitate, it is often the case that the likes andpreferences are influenced by the environment within which he lives(Liñan et al 2011).

Bandura’smodel underlines the importance of modeling, imitation andobservational learning, while integrating a persistent interactionbetween the behavior, personal factors such as cognition, and theenvironment, which is known as reciprocal causation model (Durlak etal, 2011). It is noteworthy that Bandura does not imply that thethree factors contribute equally to behavior and learning rather theinfluence of person, behavior and environment is subject to thefactor that is strongest at a particular period (Ferholt &ampLecusay, 2010). Within behavior are elements such as complexity,skill and duration, while the environment is composed ofrelationships, models, roles and situation (Ladwig, 2010). Person, onthe other hand, is mainly composed of cognition and other factorssuch as personality, motives and self-efficacy (O’Bryan &ampBoersma, 1971). For instance, in cases where the teacher offers alesson to class, students would reflect on the information provided.In this case, the environment would influence cognition, which is apersonal factor. Students that do not comprehend the informationwould raise their hand and ask a question, which would entailpersonal factors influencing behavior (Egan &amp Judson, 2008).Essentially, the teacher would review the point and answer thequestion, which is a case of behavior influencing the environment.

Recommendation

Whilethere may be controversy or divided opinion, Vygtsky’s SocialLearning Theory comes as the most efficient and effective forapplication in classroom. Vygotsky underlined the fact that learningoccurs via interactions between the student and their peers, teachersand other individuals that they encounter (Schmidt &amp DeShon,2010). In essence, it is the duty of the teacher and the parent tocreate a learning environment that would optimize or maximize theability of the learner to interact with each other via feedback,collaboration and discussion (Rothet al, 2011).On the same note, culture has been seen as the main determinant forthe construction of knowledge in an individual, particularlyconsidering that an individual would learn via the cultural lens byinteracting with other people, as well as following the abilities,rules and skills that are shaped by the culture (Williams &ampWilliams, 2010). Further, language comes off as the main tool thatpromotes thought patterns, develops reasoning, as well as supportscultural activities such as reading and writing. Essentially,instructional strategies that propagate literacy in the curriculumplay a crucial role in the construction of knowledge and thecombination or blending of whole class leadership, independentlearning, individual and group couching. It is imperative thatteachers offer opportunity to students for a controlled discussionpertaining to the learning (Siegler et al, 2003). The discussionwould have to incorporate purpose and substantive comments thatfollow from each other, while also incorporating meaningful exchangeand discussion between the students, resulting in questions thatenhance comprehension. This theory also underlines the crucial rolethat the teacher plays as a facilitator or creator of an environmentin which directed or guided interactions can take place (Betz, 2012).A large number of educational theories have adopted the ideas thatare brought to the fore in the theory and come up with strategiesthat promote enhanced knowledge construction and facilitate theholding of Socratic student discussions, while building activelearning communities via group-based instruction (Siegler et al,2003). The main point is that learning is inseparable from and alwaystakes place within a social context, in which case instructionalstrategies that encourage the distribution of the knowledge throughcollaboration between students in carrying out research, sharing ofresults and production of the final project would go a long way inthe creation of a collaborative learners’ community (Williams,2010).

Inconclusion, learning and education has been considered one of themost fundamental elements of the contemporary human society. Theimportance of learning has been underlined by the fact that thereexists a positive relationship between the level of education that anindividual attains in the long-term and the quality of life that heor she eventually leads. Of particular note is the fact that theperformance or capacity of an individual to take on lessons issubject to the environment and personal attributes, with theoristssuch as Piagets, Vygotsky and Bandura underlining the crucial rolethat the environment plays in all this. Vygotsky and Bandura,however, agree on the fact that the student is not a passive but anactive learner who can internalize the things that he or she observesin the environment, as well as come up with fundamental ideasregarding which behavior to imitate or which role models areappropriate for them. Nevertheless, the parents and teachers have akey role to play in determining the appropriate behaviors that thechild takes up or those behaviors that the child has to drop in theform of positive reinforcements and negative reinforcements orrewards and punishments. In this regard, the teachers and parentshave to come up with appropriate strategies for enhancing the takingup of certain behaviors, as well as create appropriate strategiesthat allow for the growth and development of certain behaviors in theshort-term and the long-term. they must allow for enhancedinteraction and collaboration within the school environment so as tofoster critical thinking about the lessons that they teach.

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