Creating a Passion for Learning LO17471

Dr. Steve Eskow (
Thu, 19 Mar 1998 18:24:59 -0500

Replying to LO17453 --

Christian suggests that his youngsters learning to avoid a hot fireplace
screen on their own, from experience, might support the notion that human
learning is not necessarily social.

The American humorist Mark Twain--a very perceptive student of human
nature--remarked that a cat who once sat on a hot stove would never sit on
a hot stove again. And then Twain went on to say that that cat would also
never again sit on a cold stove.

So one question that would interest me has to do with whether your
children also avoid the fireplace screen when it's cold.

Clearly humans share with other animals to modify their behavior based on
what might be called a dialog with the environment: the burnt child, our
proverb goes, dreads the fire.

If one considers this kind of stimulus-response behavior modification
"learning",then at this level of environmental encounter individauls learn
on their own.

If we agree that what distinguishes human learning from the learning of
other animals is based on our unique gift of speech, that gift itself is
socially acquired: if children do not acquire speech or sign language
their learning will remain at the animal level.

Steve Eskow


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