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It is widely understood that most of a child's learning and development takes place with an educational environment a school setting for example. But this does not mean to say a child learns approaches used in schools, which assist children to develop physically emotionally intellectually and develops by just listening to a teacher alone, there are a variety of different methods and sociably as well as to develop their language skills. Throughout my assignment i intend to reflect upon my own learning experiences, and discuss these in relation to different learning theories. In addition to this, i will then take into account what this may mean for my future learning and development and what different skills, qualities and abilities i feel are essential in order me to be an effective educational practitioner
Before i am able to reflect on my own learning experiences, I must establish what learning actually is. I personally feel that learning is the way in which an individual has the ability to learn and develop in different ways for example cognitively emotionally and socially, we always need that guidance from a teacher, parent, peer. A leaner needs to recap over existing knowledge or behaviour in order for it to be improved or develop. What we learn at any time is influenced by our previous learning. An extension to this is defined by Nisbet (1986,p.11) who goes on to explain that we may certainly learns new ways of doing things and certain rules but we continue to rely on our previous habits that we have picked up from past experiences of learning. B.F. Skinner who was a behaviourist, his main contribution to behaviourism were the notions of positive and negative reinforcement. He also developed the idea of behaviour shaping, which is training humans to carry out new tasks through a series of increasingly complex activities leading to the desire goal. Where as Burns (1995, p99) talks about learning being relatively permanent changes in behavior as the result from experience, internal processes such as thinking, attitudes and emotions.
Another definition of learning is defined by John Locke who was an English philosopher who believed, the learner starts off as a clean slate (Tabula rasa) onto which learning and experiences would be imprinted.
Whether one agrees with the different learning theorists or theories, our personal development is largely facilitated by teachers or MKO (more knowledgeable other) who should have the motivation, understanding and knowledge to develop our full potential from an early age.
Abraham Maslow believes the hierarchy needs to be met before and individual can start their learning process these are physiological needs, safety and security, belongingness and love, and self -esteem and Self-actualization. a learner whether it is a adult or child cannot learn unless they are warm, have shelter, fed and are loved. The learner has to feel safe and protected in the environment, we must also feel loved and belonging in order to achieve our full potential. Another important set of needs in the hierarchy is self-esteem, high level of confidence an individual- learner needs to have a positive view on themselves and finally self-actualization refers to the need for self-fulfilment a positive state of mind. I feel these hierarchy needs are crucial in order for an individual to learn because if we are homeless, cold, hungry, or unloved then in my opinion we would not be concerned about our intellectual development.
This first experience of learning that I will discuss is learning to drive a car. Many of my friends and family had passed their driving test, and had the freedom to go wherever they wanted without asking for a lift or arranging a time that was best. I used to watch in envy as they drove past, but I was too scared to get behind the wheel myself, because I was involved in a serious car at the age of 10.
I was planning to go to study away the following year at Preston University and my mum encouraged me to start taking driving lessons, so I could travel back on the weekends and be more independent, she had promised to buy me my first car and assist with the running of it. I eventually got the courage and started taking lessons. Throughout my learning I did struggle with certain manoeuvres, for example a 3 point turn in the road I used to hit the curb as I would reverse backwards, because my instructor had said he cannot give me guidance all the time because the examiner would not guide me on the day. My instructor had picked up on me finding it difficult and stopped teaching me other manoeuvres for the time being, and every lesson I had involved two turns in the road until i could do them. He made it challenging every time because he didn't take me to the same roads and some of the roads where narrower than others. So I spent 1 year working at getting to level of being a good safe driver then I was ready to take my test, and passed. Looking back at what it was that actually motivated me to get behind the wheel and put my fears behind me, was the fact that most of my friends my age could drive and in some sense u could say I felt left out, and was always the one sat as a passenger rather than the one actually driving. Since beginning this subject of study I have developed and understanding about different levels of motivation, a child or adult being able to be motivated themselves individually in order to learn effectively. I am going to use examples to explain what I exactly mean by this and how it is relevant to my learning experience. I was intrinsically motivated because I wanted to learn to drive, so I was more independent and didn't feel unaided, I was also extrinsically motivated because my mother said when I pass she will buy me my first car, so I was rewarded for my achievement at the end.
Now I will go on to explain which theories or learning theorist are most relevant in my learning experience. REFRENCEFirstly the constructivism theory of which Piaget ideas were integrated into, he believed children using direct experience and then exploring and learning, in their own way at their own pace, whilst being involved in an activity. My learning to drive experience demonstrates that I learned at my own pace because it happened over a period of time. Banyard and Hayes (1994, p.259) explain how Albert Bandura believes that people can learn new information and behaviours by watching other people, known as observational learning where we model other behaviour and I knew roughly how to start because i used to watch my mother and friends when I was a passenger. Bruner (1960) explained how learning is an active process revisiting basic ideas over and over, building upon them and elaborating to the level of full understanding. This was possible through the concept of the spiral curriculum. Bruner believed information being structured so that the basics can be taught first, and then complex after, then re-visited at more complex levels later on. For example first I learned how to drive on local quite roads, then at a later stage once my confidence built up and I gained more knowledge I was taken on busier main roads during rush hour.
My next learning experience I will discuss in my essay is learning my timetables. I recall back to when I was in first school about year three or four, my teacher gave me a set of time tables to learn and then take sheet home to practice . I remember I was finding it difficult to get to grips with the 6 times table, so I asked my mother to help me. She made me some flash cards and turned learning them into a game. We laid the cards out on the table and I had to match the cards together for example, the card 36 to 6 x 6. I really wanted to do well because my mother had said if i did well she would take me to toy shop. When my mother would come to pick me up from school the teacher would tell her how well i did, and when we used to go shopping into town my mother would buy a tamagotchi. So I was most defiantly motivated in learning them. When thinking about this learning experience since doing this topic, has made me come to realise that because my learning style is kinaesthetic, this was the reason why I found the flash cards helpful and easier for me to learn, because I was moving things around rather than just looking at the sheet reading them and trying to remember them.
The theories that I found relevant to my learning experience here was Edward Thorndike's laws of effect theory, in addition and skinner's positive reinforcement theory were the most important, both of the theories are very similar. Banyard and Hayes (1994, p.267), states that behaviour that has a positive and rewarding outcome is therefore more likely to reoccur in similar situations. The other theory i found relevant was the Social Constructivism theory, of which ideas Vygotsky ideas of learning were integrated into. Recalling back to my learning experience when I was receiving guidance and help from my mother, Vygosky would view it as scaffolding which was one of his most important concepts. He believed that without scaffolding from the More Knowledgeable other (MKO) we only have the ability to reach our zone of actual development (ZAD) meaning we would only achieve what we are cable of without help, on the other hand if our learning is scaffold then we have the ability to reach our zone of proximal development (ZPD).REFRENCE
In terms of my future learning, it is important that I stay persistent so I can reach my goal in becoming a primary school teacher. I understand that every child is different with their own unique learning styles, every child learns in their own way and pace and it is important to meet their learning needs. I also believe that it is important for me to be able to view tasks how a child would receive it, as this is what will make me a effective practitioner because I will be able to adapt the teaching approach to that individual if needed
Another vital part of this essay is to discuss the skills and qualities I feel are essential for any effective educational practitioner. Listening effectively to the children is an important skill a teacher needs, so they can cater for the different learning styles in order to give them the best possible opportunities to learn. I also feel it is crucial that a teacher is warming, kind and approachable so the children feel comfortable in talking about anything no matter the problem or situation. Another skill I feel is crucial is having excellent communication, having the ability to communicate with other teachers, students of all ages and parents. It is also vital that the educational practitioner has a positive attitude and is patient even in difficult situations.
On reflection of my essay, I have realised how much knowledge I have achieved, which I can use in the classroom in the future. I have learnt that not everyone learns in the same way, was as the teachers need to make learning fun and efficient. Whilst doing this essay I realised why certain outcomes occurred in terms of my own learning experience i.e. motivation, positive reinforcement and support network around me.