chapter  5
12 Pages

LEARNING, TRAINING AND BEHAVIOURISM

Training has a very bad press amongst most academic commentators on education. It is often thought of as the antithesis of education.2 The unpopularity of training has deep and complex cultural roots, the full uncovering of which is beyond the scope of one chapter. Briefly these are: the belief that training is authoritarian and that authority is harmful; the confusion of training with conditioning; and the association of training with very narrow forms of vocational preparation. I shall try to show first of all that training is not the same thing as conditioning and, second, that the belief that either education or training can be accomplished without the recognition of authority of some kind is an illusion. Preservation of that illusion leads to a reliance on covert forms of conditioning. It would be better to recognise that the role of the teacher as someone who is in authority because they are an authority3 on the acquisition of certain kinds of knowledge and skill, would lead to a more clear-sighted perception of what is necessary both for education and for training. Although it is common for liberal educators to warn that education is in danger of being displaced by training of a narrowly vocational kind, comparatively little attention has been paid by them to the concept of training. Consequently, the role that training plays in education tends to be undervalued. The result of this neglect is that both liberal and vocational education have suffered. Liberal education has suffered from the influence of progressivism, which has tended to downplay the importance of training in learning generally. Vocational education has suffered by adopting the impoverished model of training that liberal educators have rightly associated with behaviourism.4