Skinner In The Classroom

1719 Words7 Pages
The following paper is a brief examination of the work of famous psychologist Burrhus Frederic Skinner, from here on referred to simply as Skinner and how his work transfers to the classroom. The paper looks at his theories in particular operant condition and tries to answer the following why is Skinner’s work synonymous with the classroom? As well as how and to what extent is it used today? As well as trying to establish if there is still room for skinner in the classroom or with the contributions of others, with more modern practices, is it time for skinner and his theories to be expelled from the classroom and into the history books? The paper concludes with and looks back at the findings to conclude the significance of his legacy and to…show more content…
Much like Einstein’s work on relativity was not about designing nuclear bombs, Skinner’s work was not about classroom management but it is easy to see why many of its principles have been adopted and studied for educational purposes. Jacquelynn English in her presentation on Skinner’s classroom management states that “Teachers have benefited from Skinner's fundamental work in reinforcement as a means of controlling and motivating student behavior. This classroom practice that teachers use are called (behavior modification). Teachers consider this technique to be one of their most valuable tools for improving both learning and behavior in their students.” (English; 2012). So it would seem that behavior is key to the goal of the teacher and by re-enforcing positive and ignoring and stifling negative behaviour teachers can control and conduct behaviour which is key to classroom management. Although these behaviorist strategies have been considered and used from 1960’s. There is still some Skinner in the classroom today and not only used to control behaviour but to reward through reward systems. Hussang on her presentation on key classroom management theories claims that “Skinner’s work has been directly incorporated into modern school systems. Though rewards were utilized for good…show more content…
Just as Skinner’s ideas on behaviorism replaced outdated Freudian ideas, an idea formed in the 1960’s would not have an indefinite shelf life. Psychology developed a new train of thought known as the cognitive revolution. A major critic of Skinner is perhaps the most famous linguist of today Noam Chomsky. His cognitive approach caught on and skinners model became incomplete and inadequate. As Luck puts it “Skinner’s explanation for human language as something more than the product of rein forcers and launched an entirely new field of psychology, cognitivism. In one swoop. The king was overthrown and a new cognitive revolution had arrived” (Luck 2015). Skinner certainly in terms so language acquisition was out of the picture. “ By the 1990s the domination of cognitive approaches across almost all areas of psychology (even animal learning!) was nearly complete” ( Roediger. In an article titled what happened to behaviorism? The Author offers a number of ideas along with the above. He suggests that new exciting developments in neuroscience and brain mapping helped feed an intellectual revolution. Also behaviorism become too focused on specifics and did not consider the big picture in terms of cognitively. This approach did not consider the learning history of the subjects and so less concerned with behavioral environment aspects (Roediger 2004). Put simply it seemed behavioral studies started to look within the brain as
Open Document