What is the Relationship between Behaviorism and Education?
The above view permits the mind a very wide freedom. It leaves the mind at the mercy of the environment which supplies all its content.
And the behaviorists of the school illogically claim to turn any normal child into a doctor or an engineer or anything they like by the education they choose to impart. But the enthusiastic educator must not abandon his faith even if it could be scientifically proved that there were no instincts to satisfy the rising ego.
Professor Watson and all his followers who have claimed to shape the individual to a pattern have neglected the ultimate reactions of human personality to and against this pattern.
No matter to whatever environment and teaching the ‘ego’ is subjected, it is always active. It is a conscious unifying, coordinating, and integrating power. It manifests itself in all purpose and experience.
If a child constructs an article, his soul appears in the uninvited touch of beauty he decorates. The child has a spontaneous sense of fineness which comes out from his inner being. He will hardly be immoral if we make him responsible for his own behaviour. Everywhere in his life, there is a ‘home’ to completeness to self-realization.
Mind is much-above the level of a plant or animal. It is governed by a law of flesh as the behaviorists would have us believe, in order to understand the mind in biological terms; we must go back to instincts linked with far-back life.
There can be no doubt that behaviorisms leads us to unsatisfactory conclusions regarding total human personality which can be understood only by looking in front as well as behind.
The growth of personality does not merely contain the urge that comes from sex or the desire for a fuller existence. In it, we find the real human spirit, the energizing force of beauty, goodness and truth.
Prof. Bode in his book ‘Psychologies of Learning’ has doubted Watson’s theories on behaviour by remarking “what would have happened to Romeo on one of the nights when he went to visit Juliet, if his conduct had been controlled entirely by the pre-determined arrangement of a series of nicely-placed conditioned reflexes.”
The main problem is to understand how these reflexes can be got together at the right moment and in the right relationship. There must be some coordinating power in the individual capable of bringing out the right reflex and putting it into the right integrated relationships.
Nevertheless, Watson’s statement that conduct should be studied by noting what people did may be regarded of some importance. But his experiments have proved that the knowledge derived from an observation of overt conduct is incomplete.
What has behaviorisms to offer to education? In its narrowest sense behaviorisms is the essential of animal psychology. To it, every behaviour is a response to some stimulus from the environment.
According to behaviorisms if the educator understands and controls the relationship between stimulus and response, he can understand the principles of conditioned reflex, and he can make almost anything he wishes out of the child.
There appears to be enough truth in this narrower sense of behaviorisms to make it an effective and dangerous doctrine. In a broader sense, behaviorisms appear to hold that all behaviour is integrally related with the biological functioning of man.
Here, highly complex, creative and delicate functions in the man are recognized and behaviorisms venture a broad basis of theory for the study of such functions. As such, behaviorisms may yield some good fruits to education.