This article will allow you to learn about the concept of ‘learning’ with the child in focus and the factors affecting the learning process.
Concept of Learning
Learning is a word you must have been using frequently and no doubt; you must have heard other people using the word ‘learning’ even before you opened this book. You may know a friend, sister, or somebody who is learning sewing, trading, or computer.
What other things have you learned or are learning? The purpose for which you are in this program is to make you learn. So what do you mean by the word “learning”?
For one, it is one word, that many have considered a close synonym to some concepts such as ‘education’. Perhaps this is the view you also share.
But, let me quickly inform you that although there is a bit of one in the other, learning in its wider sense is one behavioral phenomenon that is not exclusive to human beings; some animals such as apes, dogs, and seals have also been found quite capable of learning too.
So, if learning is a behavioral phenomenon that transcends human and animal species would you not consider it very worthwhile to look at the word, especially about early childhood education?
Learning has been defined as a relatively permanent change in the behavior of an organism arising from experience or practice. You will notice, in this definition of learning, that the word ‘experience’ plays a very key role in the learning process.
If learning is a function of experience, then it goes without saying that the more stimulating the experience, the better the learning. The experience may be direct (involves doing) and lasts much longer, or indirect (involves being told something or reading something).
Factors Affecting Learning
However, it is to be noted that the stimulating nature of a person’s experience depends on the strength or quality of certain factors operating within and outside him. These factors have been identified as organismic and (2) phenotypic traits.
Let us consider each of these two as we proceed in this study.
1) Organismic Inherited, Innate or Inborn Factors
‘Organismic factors’ refer to those factors that lie within an organism or a person. They include the individual’s genotypic make-up and personality traits. They are inherited factors passed down at fertilization.
Genotypic factors comprise mostly an organism’s intelligence and memory; while his personality factors include his self-concept, attitude, and emotions.
2) Phenotypic Factors or Environmental Factors
Phenotypic factors refer to those factors that lie outside the child. These include his environment, cultural influence, school, peer and teacher influences, religion, mass media, and society in general.
If you still recall, we said earlier on that the more stimulating an experience is, the better the learning.
Therefore, the interaction between the individual’s organismic and phenotypic traits determines the quantity and quality of what an individual can learn. The more stimulating these factors, especially the environmental ones, the better the interaction and learning that will occur.
We shall examine the detail when we get to Unit 5 where we will focus on Growth and Development.
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