Behaviorists Theory of Learning
Behaviorists postulate that learning has nothing to do with the state of mind. In fact, learning occurs with the acquisition of new behavior. B.F. Skinner, a prominent behaviorist psychologist, well known for his extraordinary work such as experimentation with animals in his so called “Skinner Box,” argues that a measurable learning outcome is only possible if we change the learner’s behavior. Behaviorists believe that if we can change the behavior of an animal such as a rat, then we can do likewise with human behavior. Behaviorists argue that man has no faculty of critical thinking as far as learning is concerned. He or she learns either through fear (punishment) or by encouragement (reward). Behaviorists believe human beings do not have their own will, intention, self-determinationor personal responsibilities.
According to Skinner, we should keep aside modern concepts about freedom and human dignity as man must be controlled to behave in the desired manner. From the behaviorist’s viewpoint, man is like a machine which can be switched on and off. Although behaviorism has contributed to the body of existing knowledge, recent findings indicate that behaviorism is now not well received. It has lost its influence and authority to other paradigms such as constructivism methodology. Behaviorism is unable to deal with complex human behaviors. It has failed to explain linguistic creativity. Skinner’s theory of learning, in fact, is not a psychological theory as psychology per se; his theory is all about how to control human behavior. He only manipulates nature to justify his theory.
© Dr. Qais Faryadi (FST)