Segments in this Video

Freedom and Control in Education (02:41)


In a 1972 interview, John M. Whiteley asks B.F. Skinner for dependent and independent learning behavior examples. Skinner says even "independent" children depend on the physical environment and argues that neither case is truly free.

Addressing Defective Educational Environments (02:51)

Skinner discusses how to use environmental elements to modify learning behaviors, including temporary reward systems. He gives an example of beginning readers.

Positive Learning Reinforcers (02:20)

Skinner suggests special lunchtime foods, access to play space, and privileges to associate with friends as temporary rewards. Success is an intrinsic human reinforcer; well-designed instructional programs facilitate progress.

Rewarding Learning (03:23)

Many educational systems are consequence based. Skinner discusses re-designing instructional programs to accommodate diverse student learning paces without assigning grades. These would empower students to become successful.

Rewarding Good Student Behavior (02:54)

Skinner discusses ways to entice children into doing homework and following instruction, including providing economic incentives. In their adult lives, they will have natural behavior reinforcers.

Byproducts of Aversive Reinforcers (00:56)

Punitive classroom measures can lead to truancy, early drop-out rates, vandalism, or apathy.

Transitioning to a Positive Reinforcement System (01:38)

Skinner has seen classroom behavior improve within weeks, once teachers realize punitive systems reinforce negative behavior. Rewarding positive behavior and distraction are effective methods.

Family Control and Choice (04:29)

Whiteley asks Skinner how he retains middle class values while using technology in schools. Skinner points out that families can determine what type of school to send their children to; technology itself is value-free.

Re-designing Elementary and High School (03:23)

Skinner feels restricted by educational philosophies giving students more freedom; he believes children do not progress without structure. Instructional materials could be improved upon; improving teaching would mean teaching faster but separating students according to learning ability.

Bringing Change to Education (03:35)

Skinner advocates using pilot classroom projects to demonstrate what can be done. Better reinforcing contingencies should be developed in the psychological laboratory. Children should be prepared for social and work environments.

Credits: B.F. Skinner on Education: Part 1 (00:45)

Credits: B.F. Skinner on Education: Part 1

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B.F. Skinner on Education: Part 1

Part of the Series : Pioneers of Counseling: In Their Own Words
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In this discussion with psychologist John Whiteley, B.F. Skinner talks about his theories of education and the psychological issues facing educators, clarifying issues of freedom versus control in Skinner's work.

Length: 31 minutes

Item#: BVL150008

ISBN: 978-1-64347-292-8

Copyright date: ©1972

Closed Captioned

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