Re: DSM: Re: SR+ or Find like-minded people

Rick Stansberger (
Thu, 02 Nov 2000 21:13:56 -0700


Robert, I think you and I have two different visions of school. You are seeking to
shape behavior, and I'm talking about fostering learning.

Learning is a change which occurs in the mind of a person which involves the
acquisition of new data or concepts or new arrangements of old concepts. What
behaviorists call learning is really conditioning, the externally determined change
of behavior.

Do behaviorists still deny the existence of mind? Thirty years ago, my psych profs
announced that there was no such thing because it could not be operationally
defined. You can see the fallacy in their logic: just because a thing can't be
defined in certain terms does not mean that it doesn't exist.

Why do most of us remember so little of what we were taught in school even if we got
A's in the stuff? Because we were intrinsically motivated to rid our minds of stuff
we didn't value, and we dumped it out of our short-term memories after the tests. I
got the A's all right, all the way up through three college degrees, and it astounds
me when I look at an old transcript at what I supposedly learned. Conversely, I
still have some vivid memories from my college days, and I learned much, but most of
that wasn't on a syllabus.

If you want people to act a certain way (and you don't care if they resent you for
manipulating them), go ahead and apply reinforcement.

If you want a person to acquire (and not forget) new data and concepts and new
connections among previously held notions, stand out of their way and let them
re-grow their curiosity.

Robert Swanson wrote:

> Well, this is my second reply attempt. The first got deleted following
> connection problems of the last few days.
> Rick,
> I have not read enough books on behavior. I have bought a few that I'll
> comment on another time.
> Extrinsic and intrinsic provide a foundation for comparison. We live in an
> extrinsic world, that is, the common regard is that the environment is a
> strong influence. The weather, what comes in the mail, the aroma of dinner,
> someone's caress, the type of music playing, someone's glance or tone of
> voice - it all is an influence. Only autistic people and enlightened gurus
> may claim some exceptional control of their own behavior with regard to the
> environment. They have more intrinsic control. Most of us live in a
> stimulus-response world. And to a large extent, we play ignorant of this. We
> are ignorant of how the environment is currently determining behavior; and,
> we are ignorant of how past conditioning determines our responses.
> The extrinsic stimuli might be put in two categories, cooperative and
> controlling. Cooperative behaviors don't happen much in a competitive world.
> Almost everything has an uplift me, downplay you motive. Even where there
> seems to be altruism or self-destruction, look deeper for the power
> struggle. Somehow the personality thinks some strength is in the course of
> action. When no one seems to want to cooperate sabotaging self is a show of
> power.
> In the case of my behavior class the two teachers cooperated to present
> material for ease of assimilation (rather than a challenge). My interest
> perked because I was succeeding at the class and applying the material
> successfully in my work. No, they did not intimidate us or give us candy for
> doing homework. There was an air of cooperation. In cooperation, with joy
> and ease, we would apply concepts that work with the severely retarded and
> become efficient. Thus the class was socially reinforced simply by
> functioning well, together, for learning and for teaching living skills to
> residents of a group home. More specifically, the behaviorists managed the
> material to be taught progressively, in segments, quickly learned and easily
> tested. Then the segments were brought together as a whole. This might be
> called "shaping". We repeated this methodology in the group home. Simply
> doing what works to attain stated goals brings joy and excitement as
> rewards. Then joy and excitement are stimuli for more cooperation (if joy
> and excitement are seen as outcomes - rewards - for cooperative behaviors).
> Joy and excitement are not really intrinsic since they are fully dependent
> on behaviors and responses outside of mind-self.
> Back to controlling... In the Sudbury material is noted that an adult
> praising a child is condescending behavior. Would an adult praise an adult
> with the same words and tone? Equality at Sudbury is sustained while one
> person does not control predominantly for the sake of singular motives.
> Mutual support is fine. It is still stimulus-response but it is cooperative.
> A recent student's email noted the intrusive influence of families, and a
> benefit of sudbury was getting away from family. Yes, our culture is
> controlling, and this erupts from competitive conditioning. Generally, we
> are only friends or groups for the sake of defeating another. The defeating
> aspect takes up so much energy that the sum of the experience will probably
> be mutually degrading.
> And if we were cooperative... Cooperation reminds me of childhood play where
> fun was cooperating for a particular goal. Friends share a goal (or motive)
> and then they share the joy of cooperating in the adventure to attain the
> goal. The more one empowers friends the quicker the goal is attained. Using
> intelligence is really helpful here. The whole experience will probably be
> mutually empowering.
> robert
> on 10/31/00 2:04 PM, Rick Stansberger at wrote:
> > Robert, social reinforcement is far from the only type of reward there is.
> > Intrinsic rewards are much stronger. Have you read anything by Alfie Kohn --
> > "Punished by Rewards," or "No Contest" for example. There's lots of good
> > research to show that externally applied rewards can actually help to
> > extinguish
> > the desired behavior. I've seen some powerful examples of this in my teaching
> > career. In fact, I've even made use of it. Praising an adolescent for
> > disruptive behavior (even while writing him up) can cause an immediate
> > cessation
> > of such behavior.
> >
> > R
> >
> > Robert Swanson wrote:
> >
> >> At Sudbury, the judicial system is already keeping record and acting on
> >> interference, and this has been effective. Just imagine if they desired also
> >> to take on monitoring examples of positive influence and making these public
> >> issues. The social reinforcement of public acknowledgement & support of
> >> creativity could perhaps explode the SVS culture into new realms. Just
> >> remember to objectively double check the general direction once in a while.
> >>
> >> robert
> >>
> >> on 10/30/00 6:55 PM, Joe Jackson at wrote:
> >>
> >>> Robert,
> >>>
> >>>> First measure how
> >>>> often intellects interfere with play (not often at Sudbury). Then measure
> >>>> how often intellects provide opportunities that are freely accepted by
> >>>> students. The public posting of these measures is usually enough of an
> >>>> influence socially to get results. Finally, measure if the program is
> >>>> working, evaluate, and make improvements.
> >>>
> >>> How would such things be measured?
> >>>
> >>> -Joe Jackson
> >>> ************************
> >>> please note my new email address:
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> ************************
> >>> Kids rule at Fairhaven School
> >>>
> >>>
> >
> > --
> > Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
> > Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.
> >
> > "The Unknown Citizen: (To JS/07/M/37 This Marble Monument Is Erected by the
> > State)"
> > W. H. Auden
> >
> >

Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

"The Unknown Citizen: (To JS/07/M/37 This Marble Monument Is Erected by the State)"

W. H. Auden

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