Behaviorism Theory Essay

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As identified by Anghileri (2006) the way mathematics has been taught to children over the years has changed to better prepare them for the future. In the past, as stated by Charlesworth et at.(2013) mathematics has focused on memorisation and drills in an isolated environment, often creating a negative stigma towards the subject. At present the current focus on teaching mathematics concentrates on acknowledging that learning is acquired by students constructing on previous experiences as they seek out meaning and make mental connections in a ‘hands on’ environment (Anghileri, 2006).
Subsequently, to empower students with the confidence and initiative to problem solve effectively in tomorrow’s world, constructivism is best suited to learning
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Charlesworth et al. (2013) agree that when children are taught mathematics in a passive environment as isolated skills and procedures there are no assurances that they comprehend the underling skills required to apply the knowledge to future problems. Behaviourism has a one size fits all philosophy to teaching and learning, with goal specific outcomes. It is the teacher’s role to provide the instructions and students are to follow, once they follow the instructions the students can then ‘do’ something that they couldn’t do before as a result (Eisenberg, 1975). The theory can prove to become problematic as pointed out by Eisenberg (1975) as it requires careful rehearsal of a set of instructions for students to follow in order to master the desired outcomes, leaving little room for exploration as the objectives define the curriculum and only observable changes in behaviour are measurable. Therefore, to ensure students are confidently able to apply their knowledge in a range of problem solving scenarios in the future, teaching and learning mathematics needs to step away from habit learning and continue down the path of intellectual learning (Skemp, 2012). It is evident that whilst the behaviourism approach to mathematics works to reinforce learning ideas, it limits students’ ability to apply the knowledge to everyday scenarios (Skemp,

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