Summarise two recognized learning theories and explain their relevance to forest school. A learning theory can be defined as being a set of concepts which attempt to describe how people learn and develop (Dunn, 2000). Behaviourism.
This theory takes an objective approach to observing quantifiable events and behaviour and has a focus on measurable outcomes. Watson (1878-1958) suggested that our learning and behaviour are controlled by the experiences we are exposed to and our response to them. Behaviourism suggests:- •
A teacher centred approach.
A focus on observable changes in behaviour.
The learner is passive and reacting to external stimuli. •
Behaviour is shaped through positive or negative reinforcement. •
The teacher’s role is to provide information and supervise practice. •
Teaching requires much repetition and small, progressive sequences of tasks. •
Learning is the result of the combination of stimulus and response actions. •
Incentives and rewards should be used for motivation.
Repetition of experiences together with reinforcements has the most influence on learning. Behaviourist teaching methods are considered to be beneficial in teaching structured material such as facts and figures or vocabulary but less so when measuring someone’s comprehension or analytical abilities (Gray and MacBlain, 2012). Much emphasis is placed on the use of positive reinforcement to condition a response and this can be seen in schools today with the use of star charts, praise, rewards, and circle time. An example of a negative reinforcement that is often seen is the use of time out. In the forest school setting both positive and negative reinforcement are used regularly and are useful when it comes to emphasizing the importance of certain rules which need to be observed in order to keep everyone safe. As an example, when lighting a fire the leader will use a consistent approach, adhering to the same set of rules each time and always re-visiting these rules with...
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