In teaching, the metaphor ‘widening the lens is widely used. In one way or another, this metaphor seeks to encourage teachers to take into consideration diverse perspectives whenever they are solving problems. A person should think widely before making decisions. Employing diverse perspectives is crucial in that one gets the opportunity to come up with better decisions. This approach is highly encouraged in teaching young students.
My experiences as a student in elementary
In elementary school, there were several learning theories that were employed in order to ensure the learning process was effective. Despite this, the reinforcement theory seemed to dominate as it was constantly employed. In essence, this theory concentrated on behavior as a function of the consequences. We were required to repeat the behavior that was desired if the behavior that would follow was positive. In most cases, this theory involved the reward system. It was complemented with verbal reinforcements (Bredekamp, 2011). For instance, teachers would recommend us ‘You are on the right way’ or ‘that is great’. It would also involve tangible rewards that would include certificates after successfully finishing the course or being promoted to the organization’s higher level.
At times, teachers would use negative reinforcement to strengthen one’s behavior. In such cases, teachers would resolve to punishment in order to avoid or stop a negative behavior or condition. By punishing us, the teachers would weaken our negative behavior.
Learning from positive reinforcement
There are several occasions from which I learned from positive behavior. In our class, competition was so high to the extent it would be difficult to be the best performer. In mathematics, for instance, most students would score better grades than me. In one instance, I remember, I worked hard so as to emerge in the top. After the exams that followed, I emerged the best in the class. After being awarded for that performance, I was determined to always remain in that position so that I would always get the rewards. This changed my way of thinking as put in more effort to ensure I achieved my target. Although I did not succeed to be the best in the subsequent exams, I was among the best in our class. Positive reinforcement had changed my perception towards education, giving me the feeling that I could be the best.
Working collaboratively with peers
In most cases, the teachers would encourage us to work collaboratively with our peers in order to construct understanding. This method proved to be more effective when compared to learning while isolated. For instance, writing proved to be better when done with the company of peers. Collaborative learning changed our approaches to education as we saw education as a public and communal act instead of a private and isolated act. This type of learning helped us appreciate the fact that writing is not intended to be for one person; it should be clear and persuasive to others. Through working collaboratively, I developed the sense of audience, understanding why it is important to write something that would be understood by all people.
Effectiveness of different approaches to learning
In learning, different approaches are used which have different results. The learning approach to be used is determined by the learning situation one is in. In elementary, we mainly used the behaviorist approach. This approach is shaped by the believe that students tend to respond to the environment’s stimuli (Bredeamp, 2011). As such, the facilitator was required to play the role of providing useful and relevant stimuli to the learners to ensure they positively respond to the required experience. Our instructor would give us directions in any action we would undertake. He was keen on the impact that was created by using this approach of learning.
Another approach that was common was the social learning theory. Although related to the behaviorist approach, the instructors insisted on observing what others did. Through this, we absorbed the behavior of those around us. Because of this, instructors were always keen to ensure that those around us were positive.
Bredekamp, S. (2011). Effective practices in early childhood education: Building a foundation. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.