burns592: January 2012 Archives

Chapter 6: Learning

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Chapter six introduces us to the concept of Learning, specifically how nurture changes us. One subject in particular, punishment, struck me as very interesting. Punishment is defined as "any outcome that weakens the probability of a response." It details the differences between positive and negative reinforcement, and how deciding which punishment to use can greatly affect the response of those being punished.

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A book I read last year, called There Are No Children Here, depicted two young boys growing up in the projects of Chicago. In one instance, the youngest boy named Pharoah was suspended from school due to a streak of tardiness. However, what the school did not realize is that Pharoah was not provided with adequate transportation and he had to take numerous city buses through violent parts of town each morning. It was out of his control if the bus was late or had to stop because of gang violence. According to page 215 of the textbook, punishment tells an organism what not to do. So in reality, Pharoah was suspended for trying to get to school-- which in the poorest of communities is not something children usually aspire to do. Consequently, this resulted in Pharoah not wanting to go at all. In other words, the schools punishment backfired because it did not allow or help pharaoh change his tardiness.

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