Thursday, September 24, 2009

Learning Theories before the 20th Century (Pt. 2): Naturalism


     More on the learning theories developed before the 20th century...
     I am personally drawn to 'restudy' these theories when I come to the realization that most of the trial and error processes that I encounter in classroom teachings bear astounding similarities with the way the learning theories developed along the way throughout the century. While it may seem arrogant, I am stating this fact as a humble confession that if only I paid enough attention during the Education Psychology classes in my college years, I would not have to undergo many of the frustrating trial and error processes in my classroom practices...;-p
     Naturalism, or the Theory of Natural Learning were formed by European educationists, such as Jean Jacques Rousseau, Heinrich Pestalozzi and Friedrich Froebel during the Reformation years between 1712 to 1860. According to Rousseau, a human being is born pure and natural, like a piece of white cloth, and the future patterns would be influenced and determined by the environment. Naturalism was founded based on Rousseau's ideas of learning. Naturalism is the total opposite of Plato's Theory of Mental Discipline.
This is because contrary to Plato's idea of using force to induce learning, Rousseau opted to wait for the interest in learning to emerge naturally. The Theory of Natural Learning emphasizes that the efficiency of learning depends on the learning readiness of an individual, which nowadays is one of the primary principles of teaching and learning.
     Naturalism is the foundation of Rousseau's  education philosophy. According to him, in order to form an ideal human being, naturalism-based education is a must. In the natural world, the positions of adults and children are different. Therefore, in educational aspects, these two groups (adults and children) must not be perceived in a similar manner with each other. The way we educate an adult must never be the same as the way we educate a child. In addition to that, children must also be taught appropriately in accordance to their level of age development.
     According to Rousseau, human senses are the doors to knowledge. The truthfulness or the falseness of a knowledge would depend on the accuracy or inaccuracy of the observation involved. Therefore, Rousseau suggests that observation should be highly prioritize. Training the skills of using the senses must also be given much emphases in order for knowledge to be gained accurately.
     Rousseau's theory of education is detailed in his book Emile. Although Emile was written almost two hundred years ago, much of  the contents formed the basis of many of the modern theories of education in the 20th century.

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