Sunday, August 12, 2012

Modeling Behavior is behaviorist - Not SDT or CPS

Parents or teachers mistakenly think that if they are not giving rewards or consequences, but merely modeling appropriate replacement behavior or language they are using ' gentle or positive discipline and certainly not being ' behaviorist'.
The Self Determination Theory - SDT teaches that if kids needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness are being met , kids become committed , intrinsically motivated , competent and caring people.
Teaching replacement behaviors by modeling as Alfie Kohn shows below ignores the whole child – autonomy , the context of the behavior and values- relatedness.
CPS – collaborative problem solving does not focus on behaviors but  on the concerns of kids in the context of unsolved problems. Teaching replacement behaviors instead of focusing on concerns and problems , the context, fails to address the kid's need for competence.
Here are 2 excepts from Alfie Kohn on Modeling behavior

It’s widely accepted that, in order for children to learn to be good people, they should be shown how to act. Parents in particular try to set an example by the way they treat others. And, indeed, some studies suggest that children are more likely to donate to charity if they’ve watched someone else do so. On the other hand, modeling doesn’t always work on its own. In fact, there is evidence that “exposure to paragons of helpfulness may undermine the intrinsic motivation to help.”[3]  Young adults who watched highly helpful people came to view themselves as less altruistic.
Part of the problem is that modeling is a concept rooted in behaviorism. It began as a refinement of the principles of operant and classical conditioning. Those principles couldn’t account for the fact that people sometimes learn from what they’ve observed, acting in ways for which they themselves received no reinforcement. But modeling, like reinforcing, is just another technique for getting someone to behave in a particular way; it doesn’t necessarily promote a dedication to, or an understanding of, that behavior. Because mere imitation doesn’t achieve those more ambitious goals, we need to supplement the showing with telling — the precise inverse of what I’ve proposed for academic instruction in classrooms.
It may make sense not only to use explanation as a separate strategy alongside modeling, but to combine the two approaches into what might be called “deep modeling.” Here, we not only set an example for children but try to make it clear to them what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Verbalizing is a familiar strategy to many of us, from self-talk therapies to the technique known as “think aloud” that’s intended to help students comprehend more of what they read. Deep modeling is different in that the narration is coming from someone else.
Consider the challenge of real-world ethical conundrums. It’s fine for parents to try to model honesty and compassion for their children, but what happens when those two values seem to pull in opposite directions – for example, when telling the truth may hurt someone’s feelings? Similarly, it’s easy to say that kids should look out for other people’s interests, but to what extent must they give up something they enjoy so that someone else will benefit?
We can let children know how we think (and feel) our way through similar dilemmas by describing to them the factors that we consider in making such decisions: the relevance of our previous experiences, the principles from which we’re operating, and all the thoughts and emotions that we take into account. From watching and listening to us, kids not only learn more about how we try to live a moral life; they also figure out that morality is rarely cut-and-dried.
Deep modeling might be thought of as a way of taking children “backstage.” To that extent, it’s very much like writing — or conducting an authentic science experiment — in front of them. They’re able to experience what happens before (or behind or beneath) the ethical decisions that adults make, the essays they publish, and the scientific principles they discover — all of which are usually presented to children as so many faits accomplis.

But any time educators (or parents) frame the issue in terms of the need to change a child's behavior, they are unwittingly buying into a larger theory, one that excludes what many of us would argue are the things that really matter: the child's thoughts and feelings, needs and perspectives, motives and values -- the things, in short, that result in certain behaviors. The behavior is only what's on the surface; what matters is the person who does the behaving... and why she does so.
Here are two students in two different classrooms, each of whom just gave half his lunch to someone else. The first student did so in the hope that the teacher would notice this and praise him: "Isn't that a nice thing to do! I'm so proud of you! I really appreciate your sharing like that!" The second student did so without knowing or caring whether the teacher saw him: He was simply concerned that the kid sitting next to him might go hungry.
The two behaviors are identical. What matters are the reasons and feelings that lie beneath. Discipline programs can (temporarily) change behavior, but they cannot help people to grow. The latter requires a very different orientation in the classroom: the ability to look "through" a given action in order that we can understand the motives that gave rise to it as well as figuring out how to have some effect on those motives.
Consider, then, a very specific contrast between two ways of responding to a child who shared his lunch. The teacher who is preoccupied with the behavior -- and who seeks, in this case, to produce more of it -- would probably resort to praise. A different approach, derived from Martin Hoffman's work on "inductive discipline," would be to help the child attend tto how his decision to share has affected someone else (in this case, the recipient of his food). "Boy, would you look at Jaime's face! He is one happy guy now that he has enough to eat, isn't he?"
The message of praise is: I [the person with the power] approve of what you did, so you should do it again.  It is a way of reinforcing a behavior and, in the process, probably strengthening the child's dependence on adult approval. "Look at Jaime's face," on the other hand, is concerned with helping the sharer to experience the effects of sharing and to come to see himself as the kind of person who wants to make other people feel good -- irrespective of verbal rewards.
Even when this particular response isn't used, our goal should be nothing less than assisting children in constructing an image of themselves as decent people. Programs or practices that focus on behaviors -- even on promoting "positive" behaviors -- can't achieve that goal. In fact, they make that result less likely, partly because of how rewards tend to undermine people's interest in whatever they had to do to snag the reward, and partly because a behavioral focus in itself is both limited and limiting.

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