Why should somebody who is interested in education be interested in behaviourism?
Don't Shoot the Dog! serves as an introduction to behaviourism. Karen Pryor takes us through both the basic theory and applications in behaviour modification. She uses a combination of examples from both animal and human subjects in everyday situations. Want your dog to stop barking all night? Need your roommate to start doing the laundry for once? Can't wait to teach your cat to give you a high-five? Karen Pryor tackles all these tricky situations and more.
Behaviourism claims to be a complete model of learning and behaviour - a very ambitious claim indeed. How does it do on this score? Without giving the game away too much, let's just say that the results are mixed. In some situations, behaviourist approaches and ideas work incredibly well. In certain cases, however, particularly to do with motivation, it is clear that it hasn't got all the answers. The fact that it's partially true and partially false makes it all the more intriguing - why does it sometimes work, but sometimes not? This is a question that will take a lot longer than one episode to answer, but it is worth thinking on.
Even if you're not behaviourism's biggest fan, or you don't think you'll be using it much, it is an important thing to have a grasp of to provide context for other theories and ideas. It's like Newtonian physics, which does a good job prior to the arrival of other theories (relativity theory and quantum mechanics), and we can then ask why Newtonian physics works so well in most situations even though it's "wrong" as it has been superseded by other theories.
Enjoy the episode.