Finding out is easy - just observe our everyday selves in action, and and listen carefully to the way we talk about behaviour - our actual beliefs are revealed in how we talk and act.
So much of the day-to-day talk about student behaviour implies that many of us believe Pavlov was right - it is all a matter of stimulus and response. That is, if teachers (and parents and ...) get the stimulus right then the kids responses will improve.
In this sense there are supposedly two kinds of 'stimulus'
- the teacher's actions - a multitude of scripts are readily available for almost any situation
- the so-called consequences of the student's actions
But therein lies the trap for schools and their staff:
- What is logical to teachers may not make any sense at all to some students, hence
- What works well with many students (~80%) does not work for all, and
- What is explicit (obvious) for the teacher may not even be tacit for student - a student may have little or no awareness of issues and expectations
- It is easy to confuse intelligence with maturity - two students of equal intelligence may have very different capacities to act appropriately in the same situation
- working ON students by trying to get the stimulus strong enough to make the students respond, or
- working FOR students by making the response for them, or
- simply NEGLECTING the student if the whole situation is too difficult
Is there an alternative to Pavlov?
The answer is yes. It still involves stimulus and response but the role of the teacher is quite different. The teacher works WITH the student by mediating
- between the stimulus and the student helping the student make better sense of their experience
- the student's processing of the incoming stimulus - helps them think better
- between the student and their response - helps them make a better response
- emotional literacy for understanding self and others
- thinking making sense of one's experiences and the way to respond
- social skills for responding
- habits of mind for self regulation, better thinking and more successful ways of responding
So the choice is yours -
- How do you function in your role with respect to your students?
- Are you generally a conditioner or mediator? Under what circumstances?
- And are your students experiencing greater well-being and becoming more successful in their endeavours?
- How might you adjust your practice in order to make a greater contribution?