**Please refer to Lesson Plan #2 and Lesson Plan #3 for recommended class discussion, class activities, and homework assignments that utilize the following theories while addressing the issue of Violence in America.**
Lesson Plan #2: Lawlessness and Lord of the Flies
There is possibly no better hypothetical study of behavior than the allegorical novel Lord of the Flies. Lord of the Fliesbegins with a group of boys who end up on a deserted island after their plane is shot down. They are forced to fend for themselves, creating new social structures, groups, rules and survival mechanisms. This text gives us a glimpse into the raw state of human nature, the quintessence of individual will in an apolitical environment. The root question becomes: can a person’s behavior ever truly be predicted?
John Watson, the founding father of Behaviorism, used experimentation as the groundwork for behaviorism.“His most famous experiment was conducted with a baby known as Albert B. Watson and his assistant gave Albert a white lab rat; he was unafraid and tried to touch the rat. He was afraid, however, when they clanged metal with a hammer just behind his head, and he cried. A few months later, when Albert was 11 months old, they again gave him the rat, but this time just as he touched it, the metal clang sounded behind his head. That made him cry. This was repeated several times over a few weeks. Before long just the sight of the rat made Albert cry and try to crawl away. In fact, any furry item -- a stuffed toy, a fur coat, even a Santa Claus mask -- made Albert cry and be afraid. The experiment successfully showed the behaviorist idea of association in a higher order animal” (PBS). Students will be asked to reflect on how Jack’s and Ralph’s behavior affects the behavior of the rest of the boys on the island. Do the other boys become conditioned to acting a certain way because of repeated actions by Jack? It is interesting to note that while Watson was the first to perform behavior experiments on humans, he drew his theory from Ivan Pavlov “who had stumbled upon the phenomenon of classical conditioning (learned reflexes) in his study of the digestive system of the dog” (Culatta). Pavlov’s research raised the important question: can animal behavior be affected by “conditioning”? Which led to the same question being asked of human beings.
To further this research Edward Thorndike created the “notion of a stimulus-response 'association' or 'connection'” through repetition or habit (Culatta). Students will find many examples of repetition in Lord of Flies, especially in frenzied chanting which often led to someone’s death. Habitual behavior can be broken, however one must find the initial root cause of the behavior first. To do this observation needs to occur. As most of us have learned the hard way, consequences can have a huge impact on changing our behavior. Punishment is often given for bad behavior and reinforcement for good behavior. B.F. Skinner is known to have created this notion. “Skinner furthered the behaviorist perspective with his concept of operant conditioning, which demonstrated the effect of punishment and reinforcement on behavior” (Cherry). What happens in a world where there are no consequences for one’s actions. A world where bad actions are positively reinforced rather than punished?
Though, at this point it must be asked: Is Behaviorism a science that we can say has definitive outcomes? Baum explores the notion of free will vs. determinism in an attempt to narrow down a definition of Behaviorism: “Determinism is the notion that behavior is determined solely by heredity and environment … The name for the ability to choose is free will … Free will asserts that choice is no illusion, that individuals themselves cause behavior … no matter how much we know, we still cannot predict exactly what a person will do in a given situation” (Baum). Baum argues that Behaviorism falls somewhere in the middle. Behavior can be predicted when it comes to matters of law and government, however free will dominates in the areas of philosophy, religion, poetry and literature. Behaviorism is the attemptto create a science out of the study of behavior. Whether this is possible is still widely debated. However, most in the field agree that important deductions can be made from studying behavior. Not only will the students be learning theories of behaviorism, the teacher will simultaneously also be applying these theories towards the students’ learning processes. Positive reinforcement in the form of extra credit points will be given for class participation, respectful comments and thought-provoking insights. The hope is that this will form strong associations and hence good behavioral habits. In a presentation from Merced University, a group discusses 4 effective behaviorist strategies for use in the classroom: “(1) Students will work for things that bring them positive feelings. (2) Use of a token system can reinforce positive academic performance. (3) Students can utilize the art of repetition so that information remains concrete during the learning process. (4) Small progressively sequenced tasks ensure that students remain focused during the learning process” (Danley et al). This lesson utilizes all four approaches to effective teaching. Positive reinforcement will be given for active class participation, bonus points and extra credit points will be tokens of reward, their assignments are always formatted in the same way supporting the practice of repetition as a learning tool, and varied small assignments will be given throughout each lesson. References Cherry, K. (2016). The Origins of Psychology: A Brief History of Psychology Through the Years. from https://www.verywellmind.com/a-brief-history-of-psychology-through-the-years-2795245. Verywell, an About.com brand. No author. People and Discoveries: Watson launches behaviorist school of psychology. Retrieved from www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/dh13wa.html. A Science Odyssey: PBS.org. Culatta, R. (2015). Behaviorist Learning Theory. Retrieved from Theory.Retrieved from http://www.innovativelearning.com/teaching/behaviorism.html. In Innovative Learning Theory. Danley, B., James, N., Mims, C., & Simma, A. (nd). Behaviorism Theory: And Its Relation to Instructional Design. In http://faculty.mercer.edu/codone_s/tco363/2014/behaviorism.pdf. Mercer University. Baum, W.M. (2004). Part I: What is Behaviorism? Retrieved from http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/content/bpl_images/content_store/sample_chapter/9781405112611/baum_sample%20chapter_understanding%20behaviourism.pdf In Understanding Behaviorism: Behavior, Culture, and Evolution (2nd ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Wiley-Blackwell. Lesson Plan #3: Racism and The Help Culatta (2015) states, “One of the assumptions of behaviorist thought is that free will is illusory and that all behavior is determined by the environment either through association or reinforcement”. The class will use excerpts from Stockett (2009) in conjunction with the following classroom activity, to illustrate how theories of behaviorism help understand the perpetuation of racism. The class discussion will start with the question of free will and if students believe people have free will to choose to be racist or not. By allowing students to provide their opinions, it will illustrate the inherent discussion of free will and determinism as discussed by Baum (2004). It is anticipated that many students will feel that everyone has the free will to decide to hate or not and to decide to participate in racism or not. By the end of the activity it is the hope that students will question if a person’s behavior is really “without regard to inheritance or environment” (Baum, 2004, p.18). The class activity will use methods of rewards and consequences. Observing how students’ behavior changes or remains the same will exemplify the idea that behavior allows us to draw conclusions about the mental state of student: Do they like rewards? Do they want to avoid negative consequences? (Culatta, 2015). The same class activity will be repeated twice to have a better observation of if students’ behaviors change. Depending on if students change their choices will support or negate B.F. Skimmer’s concept of operant conditioning and the “effects of punishment and reinforcement on behavior” (Cherry, 2017, July 27). Additionally if a student changes their behavior during the second time of the activity to coincide with a reward rather than a consequence, it would support Thorndlike’s theory that consequences of past behavior have an effect on future behavior (Peel, 2005). It also with further Skinner’s finding of how operant behaviors and reinforcements work together and can lead to a favorable outcome (Cherry, 2017, August 25). The teacher will then receive feedback from students actively involved in the activity and those who were asked to observe to find if they observed changes in behavior based on the association or reinforcement of a reward or consequence (Culatta, 2015). The importance of this is to get an inner understanding of the students who made decisions that resulted in rewards or consequences and what their reasoning was to choose one way or the other. The feedback discussion will lead back into excerpts from The Help(Stockett, 2009) to unify the activity with the class reading. To wrap the activity up, the will return to the question of free will and if people really have the free will to be choose to be racist or not, or if it possible that “the more we know of the reasons behind a person’s actions, the less likely we are to attribute them to free will” (Baum, 2004, p.15). References Baum, W. M. (2004). Part one: What is behaviorism?. In Understanding behaviorism: Behavior, culture, and evolution (2nd ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Wiley-Blackwell. Retrieved from http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/content/bpl_images/content_store/sample_chapter/9781405112611/baum_sample%20chapter_understanding%20behaviourism.pdf Cherry, K. (2017, July 27). The origins of Psychology: From philosophical beginnings to the modern day. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/a-brief-history-of-psychology-through-the-years-2795245 Cherry, K. (2017, August 25). B.F. Skinner biography (1904-1990): A closer look at Skinner’s life and legacy. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/b-f-skinner- biography-1904-1990-2795543 Culatta, R. (2015). Behaviorist learning theory. Retrieved from http://www.innovativelearning.com/teaching/behaviorism.html Peel, D. (2005). The significance of behavioral learning theory to the development of effective coaching practice. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, 3(1), 18-28. Stockett, K. (2009). The help. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.