How Children Think and Learn

How Children Think and Learn - Syllabus and Study Material

Learning is, a change of behavior that takes place through practice or experience. It has the characteristic of being relatively permanent, although the change may be good or bad for the individual. of course, many unlearned behaviors that develop through maturation interact with learned factors. Such is the case of walking: walking begins as a natural result of maturation, but with practice it is improved. In both maturation and learning, the end result is the same: a gradual modification of behavior. However, we normally speak of learning as the change that is due to the effects of practice. This rules out change due to growth or maturation, or change due to fatigue or to injury. Whereas maturation is development corrected with growth of the neuromusculature, learning is correlated with stimulating situations.
One task before psychology is to study how learning takes place and the conditions under which it will occur. Let us first discuss selective learning, where the organism makes a choice from a wide array of possible reactions of certain ones from a wide array of possible reactions of certain ones that are appropriate to the particular situation. We shall describe associative learning, where a connection between stimulus and response is established that did not exist before. And the psychologist is also interested in probability in learning; that is, the likelihood that a particular response will be evoked whenever a certain stimulus is presented. As the brain becomes increasingly complex, unlearned behavior gives way gradually to learned behavior. At the human level, practically everything beyond. At the human level, practically everything beyond basic biological processes and reflexes is learned. It is little wonder that as we “live and learn,” we build in some habits that prove to be mistakes and others that enable us to the control of ourselves and to some extent the modification of our environment.

How Children Learn?

No child is “learning impaired”. Given the right conditions, ALL children- girls and boys- can learn effectively especially when they “learn by doing.”

For many of us, we learn best by “learning by doing,” that is, through actually doing activities and gaining experience. This is what we really mean when we talk about, “active learning,” “children’s participation in learning,” or “participatory learning.” It’s getting children to learn new information through different activities and teaching methods. These activities are often linked to children’s practical experiences in everyday life which helps them to understand and remember what they are learning use it later on, in life.

What are some of the different ways that children learn? Knowing these different ways will helps us to develop learning activities that are more meaningful for children and us. They will help especially those children who have traditionally been excluded from learning but who we want to keep in our inclusive, learning-friendly classrooms.

Sensory Learning: Sight, Sound, and Movement

What are your children doing when they first come into your class in the morning? Hopefully they are looking at you (sight), listening to you (sound), and watching what you and others are doing (movement)

They are learning
These three senses –Sight, sound, and movement – are all important in helping children to learn. For children with disabilities, they learn in the same way as non-disabled children. However for these children, one of their senses – hearing, sight, or movement – may be more limited, and they may learn at a slower pace than their non-disabled peers.

How Can We Study Thinking?

A traditional way to study thinking has been to obtain and analyze introspective accounts of people solving problems. The investigator says to the subject, “Tell me what you were thinking about as you worked on this problem.” While this methods is of value (and we shall make use of some of its findings), introspection has certain limitations. Obviously, we cannot use it to study the thinking of very young children, but even much adult thinking is simply not available to consciousness. A great deal of thinking goes on without the thinker being aware of it, which means that the most articulate person would find it impossible to describe her thought process accurately and fully. For this and other reasons, most modern research investigates thinking by observing the behavior and analyzing the achievements of the problem solver. We will, therefore, supplement the findings of introspection with the findings of observation of behavior.
Starting with data obtained from introspective studies, we will first try to describe the subjective experiences of a thinker as he works on a problem.
The ability to think, to reason, to solve problem is often seen as evolution’s highest achievement. It enables us to rise above the demands of mere survival and is, in fact, what makes us “human.” Our species is endowed, not only with the gift of thought, but with an actual need to play with ideas, a fascination with wondering what might be as well as with understanding what is.
For all our superiority, we find it no simple matter to analyze the mental processes that makes us superior! Yet as psychologist, we must try to reach a scientific understanding of the phenomenon called thought, and that is the objective of this chapter. Almost always, practical implications flow from a scientific understanding. As Kurt Lewin, an eminent theoretician from the Gestalt school of psychology, used to say, “There is nothing as practical as a good theory.” In this chapter, therefore, when we arrive at scientific analyses that suggest practical tips that can be used to improve one’s thinking or one’s ability to solve problems, we will point them out to you.”

Is Thinking an Adaptive Process?

Much of a person’s thinking deals, in one way or another, with his attempt to adapt to varying circumstances. He wants to change things, to improve matters- in short, to solve problems. “Thinking” is so much involved in “problem solving” that the two terms can almost be used interchangeably. It is true, of course, that we spend much time in “idle thought,” in daydreaming or wishful thinking. But even idle thought may be adaptive, for sometimes fantasy and free-flowing imagination start a flood of realistic thinking that leads to practical achievement. And so, while thinking and problem solving are not strictly speaking the same thing, there is no doubt that the study of problem solving is central to any account of thinking.

The Nature of Thinking

Two unique of thought are that it can shift very rapidly, covering an expanse of time and space almost instantaneously and that its content extends over a very wide range. Through reverie and Daydreams, we can review a variety of experiences that may or may not prove preparatory to solving our problems. We analyze arguments and evaluate our own behavior and that of others through critical thinking, either formally or informally applying the rules of logic. Thinking rangers in degree from the mere awareness of our own experiences to complex problem-solving functions in which we seek strategy, or heuristic, that keeps our search for solution within bounds. Heuristics reduce search time by working with approximations to the correct answer as a means of approaching the solution. Computers are useful in solving problems because they have a perfect memory. As the computer Scientists put it, “They are stupid enough to do everything you tell them to do.”

Thinking is involved in the system of inputs-central processing-outputs, where the three aspects described above functions as a whole. It is important that the stimulation of thinking finds a coordination of sight, sound, and feel of our actions. In studies using specially designed tape recorders and earphones which delayed feedback to the subject, it was found that the subjects had difficulty in speaking. When a subject heard his own voice a fraction of a second after he had spoken, there was a tendency to stutter, to repeat phrases, and even to be unable to pronounce certain familiar words. The subjects were unable to answer simple questions which they had answered earlier under normal feedback conditions. Comments included, “I can‘t think,” “If I can‘t hear what I’ve said, I can‘t follow my thoughts through”

Language is important In thinking, a sort of “inner speech,” as it were. Although words may not be absolutely essential to thought , speech appears to be an aid in solving problems. Words act as symbols for us. “Car” is a symbol for the automobile which brings up associations common to most of us. Words can act as signs, in evoking both images and overt behavior. A person who cannot understand language solve a verbal problem, although he may be able to solve a nonverbal problem with ease. No doubt one of the difficulties we have in understanding people who speak another language is that we “do not think” in that language even when it is translated for us, and this slows down our cognitive processing. Accents and gestures are also important, for we think not only with “the brain” but also with “the muscles.”

Motor Aspects of Thinking. In addition to the “mental” elements, thinking also consists of slight incipient movements of groups of muscles. Studies show that there are slight muscular responses when we think of a word, resembling the movements used when we say the word aloud. Movements might occur during thought without the person being aware of it. When told to think of the Eiffel Tower, a subject made incipient movements of the eye muscles identical in pattern with those made when actually elevating the eyes. Deaf-mutes who use sign language “think with their fingers” in the same way that normal people think by means of inner speech. One experimenter found that the onset of dreams in sleeping deaf-mutes was accompanied by action currents in the fingers which were absent from normal subject under similar conditions.

An increase in muscle tone not only accompanies thinking; it also facilities it. The more concentrated the thought and the more cortical activity involved, the greater is the general muscular tension. And conversely, with progressive muscular relaxation attention, imagery, thought processes, and emotion gradually diminish. The location of action currents also corresponds to the type location of action currents also corresponds to the type of imagery. When subjects are asked to visualize bending their arm, action currents occur in the vision regions of the brain; when asked to imagine how it feels bending if, the electrical potential occurs in the arm itself.

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