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able to learn at each stage of their education (Weegar and Pacis, 2012). Proponents of behaviourist theory tend to put forward that learning is passive, and that the mind of the individual is not really as important as the environment in which learning takes place. Skinner stated that all learning could be measured through changes in the behaviour of the subject (Weegar and Pacis, 2012). Cognitivists put a much higher emphasis on the importance of experience, prior learning and the ability to fit new knowledge amongst the student’s existing ideas about how the world works. Constructivism is a branch of cognitivist thought which places great importance on social interaction as a basis for learning. This was discussed by Vygotsky in detail, who felt that the instructor or teacher was very important in facilitating learning, as well as the peers of the student. In terms of the reasons for learning, Cognitivists place more importance on learning for understanding and meaning, while current behaviourists believe that committing information to memory (not necessarily with understanding) should occur before tackling the next stage of learning (Weegar and Pacis, 2012). Cognitivists place active learning at the forefront, which rules out many types of behaviourist teaching, such as rote learning, which is passive absorption and repetition, sometimes without expectation of real understanding. Piaget argued that students must take responsibility for their own learning in the classroom, that learning should be less teacher-centric, more pupil-focussed. (Weegar and Pacis, 2012). The activities of the students should be defined by their developmental stage and cogitative abilities. Within my own placements, I have seen elements of both styles of teaching. Behaviourism forms not only some of the methods of teaching and learning but also the cornerstone of the school behaviour policy, which functions as a set of rewards and sanctions. One teacher (Mr B) creates a behaviourist environment by choosing to stand in different areas of the classroom in order to obtain certain types of behaviour from students. For example, standing up beside the whiteboard leads quickly to silence among his pupils, as they have learned that his standing in this position replaces other teachers’ calls for silence. Mr B explained that initially, when pupils were in younger years of the school, this was prefaced by a “3, 2, 1” countdown, until it was possible to remove the countdown in favour of the quiet change in position. This is an example of classical conditioning, whereby pupils associated their silence at the teacher’s signal with the praise that followed. In the early years of Key Stage 3, Mr B also awarded Classchart points for the resulting silence to positively reinforce their behaviour. When Mr B is walking around the classroom, it is a signal that pupils should be getting on with their work. Again, they have become aware that at any point he may be close to them and be able to peruse their task.

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