Learning in America





LEARNING
Education is a very broad term in that behaviors, experiences, and environment help form our way of educating ourselves. Not one single element can determine what we learn, but many variables are indeed the basis of our learning. The rate of learning is also unpredictable. But ultimately with the altering of certain aspects of motivation and conditioning on can alter the effectiveness of learning. Although a problem from perception, motivation, or previous experiences may inhibit the learning process, many psychologists agree on a normal learning among species (Kalat 190). A few questions explored in this essay are what will make learning more profitable for children? What makes children want to learn?
Education in the school system is seen as one way to develop methods of understanding and basic skills. Schooling is an attempt to learn from others experiences, thus becoming a social learning environment. Students learn from others by what the others do and how others react to the action. In the essay “How Teachers Make Children Hate Reading” by John Holt, personal experiences in methods of learning are explored. In a grade one class the teacher asked the children to write, However the students were afraid to write because they did not know many words. So the professor told the students

to ask him to spell any words they needed help with. This quotation is from the next day of class:
The words were still on the board when we began school the next day. Before I began to erase them, I said to the children, “Listen, everyone. I have to erase these words, but before I do, just out of curiosity, I’d like to see if you remember some of them.” The result was surprising. I had expected that the child who asked for and used a word might remember it, but I did not think many others would. But many of the children still knew the words. (463)
This is an example of social learning. The students learned from each other. Children learn by observing others who are doing what they would like to do. If the sense of self-efficacy is strong enough others imitate the behavior. People are selective with the person with whom they choose to imitate. Successful people are the desired resemblance. But not everyone can imitate what a single person achieved. People must acquire self-efficacy, which Kalat describes as "the perception that they themselves could perform the task successfully" (223). The reason is that not everyone can play basketball. As well if students see other students doing things they themselves want to do it. If everyone is playing a certain sport at recess it attracts most all the students only if the child knows he is capable of playing.
If children provide the correct answer, they are more likely to want to repeat this behavior. It is even more effective if the role model the child admires is seen learning or in this case reading.


Holt’s main point in the essay is to relay to the children that learning can be fun, especially reading. Through self-questioning he tried to devise different ways to learn other than the conventional methods. He came to the conclusion that many students disliked school because they felt that school was a danger. The learning process was partially blocked by the child’s fear of failure. This is brought forth in the reading “ From the very beginning of school we make books and reading a constant source of possible failure and public humiliation” (457). It is not fun if the child is wrong. It is always more enjoyable when the correct answer is given and self-esteem is reaffirmed. The children must feel free to advance through failure. But in the classroom failing is deemed as something horrible. Teachers focus on testing students constantly to report progress. But this can not work unless the teacher’s explain what was done wrong in a positive attitude. Children often see school as a competition. They always compete for grades. This ultimately makes the classroom become a battlefield for intelligence.
Positive reinforcement provides the environment with advancement to education. When a student gets an answer correct the teacher puts perhaps a happy face or a check mark followed by a good job. This