In addressing this question I will look at each of the four theories from behaviourism, social learning theory, constructivism through to social constructivism as detailed in chapter 2 “Theories of development”. I will give an overview of each of the four theories highlighting the key features of each theory in relation to the subject of child learning supported with reference to particular examples.
After giving an overview of each of the theories and their key features I will compare and contrast the four theories to the extent that they are seen to support children as active in constructing their own learning. Having taken these details into account I will conclude as to whether the four theories support the statement “children are active in constructing their own learning”.
The first of the four theories “Behaviourism” focuses on development as a discipline, how the environment the child lives in and the events in the child’s environment mould the behaviours of the child and that “behaviour learned is maintained by the consequences of such behaviour” (Oates, Sheehy, Wood, 2005,p.53). Behaviourists focused on what can be measured and observed but did not take into account the child’s thoughts or understanding of a situation.
The learning process is referred to as conditioning of which there are two forms, classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning is the learning of the association between reflex behaviour and neutral stimulus in the environment. Such conditioning can be used to bring a child’s natural reflex behaviour to reaction to new stimuli in the environment as can be seen in Watson’s and Rayner “Little Albert” experiment (Watson, 1924) where the child’s reflex behaviour was retrained to become fear, of the rat, to a new environment stimuli by means of clanging the metal bar. Operant conditioning was the effecting of behaviours by external factors of reward in the form of pleasant consequences and punishment in...