“To –ism or not to –ism, that is the question!”
Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, Humanism, and now…Connectivism?? “I AM SO CONFUSED!"
Many of us have probably repeated these words during a class in "Psychology of Learning." By determining a definition for learning, essentially the first step becomes determining connections among learning theories. Is there one correct answer? If so, why are there so many theories to consider? According to Driscoll (2005) “a learning theory is a set of constructs linking inputs, means, and results,” (p. 1). It appears relatively straightforward, so why do still have so many interruptations? “If one person is right, does that automatically mean everyone else is wrong?”
In a not-so-recent blog, Kerr (2007) compared learning theories to politics. Both have viewpoints which might serve to deliver radical reforms, they can be dangerous, although they are still needed.
Howard Gardner, (as cited in Smith, 2002/2008) stated one must first consider the theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner believed that humans possess multitude of intelligences. The intelligences come with their own strengths and constraints although each is entirely independent of the other. Does this serve to prove if the human has different ways to acquire knowledge, then there must be different theories to receive this accomplishment?
Furthermore, according to Kapp (2007), -ism(s) do not stand alone. Each -ism is useful as we develop this journey toward “How people learn.” No one –ism is 100%, but each becomes extremely useful in reflecting and expanding the theories of learning. As an educator, the key question remains, “Which theories will best serve the needs of my diverse classroom to reach the multiple intelligences of all my learners to ensure that all acquire knowledge?”
It goes to show, “One size does NOT fit all.”
Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson
Kapp, K. (2007, January 2). Out and about: Discussion on educational schools of thought [Web log
post]. Retrieved from http://www.kaplaneduneering.com/kappnotes/index.php/2007/01/out-and-
Kerr, B. (2007, January 1). _isms as filter, not blinker [Web log post]. Retrieved from
Smith, Mark K. (2002, 2008) 'Howard Gardner and multiple intelligences', the encyclopedia of informal education, http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm