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Three Schools of Thought in the Context of the Educational Process

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In this essay, I am going to examine three main schools of thought, namely - cognitive, behaviorist and humanistic - in the context of the educational process, and decide which of them seems best for the learning circumstances.

Cognitive School of Thought

Cognitive school of thought refers to how someone learn which is through mental processes, mainly on how people think, understand, remember and most probably apply it in their daily basis. So, scientists had estimated what goes on in an individual’s head through two vital ideas which is information processing and mental learning.

Information processing means an individual learn something, keep it in their mental, and then recover that information when needed or when they have to use it for their learning. First of all, short-term memory is a storage where the certain amount of information learner gained will be restored for few seconds, and then if they keep on thinking about it, it will be sent to their long-term memory to be kept forever. Long-term memory is where learner store the information that gained from short-term memory for quite a longer time. If the information does not used by them to any extent, it might be neglected permanently.

Attention is something that is very hard to attain from the students when educators are teaching. As an educator, they have to be creative and slightly open-minded in order to acquire student’s attention. Moreover, meaningful learning is about the relationship between the information learners already knew and new information they will be learning. New information can be obtained from the latest outcome which will be compared with the information we already knew.

Behaviorist School of Thought

Behaviorism refers to studies justified by surrounding causes rather than internal forces. Behaviorist tend to teach an individual based on outer stimuli, outer problems, and outer forces. There are five work thinkers who classified behaviorist school of thought who are Thorndike (connectionism), Pavlov and Watson (classical conditioning), Skinner (operant conditioning), Bandura (observable learning and modelling), and Gagne (hierarchical conditioning).

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Classical conditioning is when two stimuli are linked together to produce a new learned response in a person or animal. Operant conditioning, referred as instrumental conditioning, is a way of learning through rewards or punishments in their behavior. Classical conditioning is involuntary and automatic responses, whereas operant conditioning is voluntary and operates on environment. The educator has control over the students to implement what is right and wrong in their brain.

Humanistic School of Thought

Humanistic school of thought is based on the learner’s free will, self-potential, and private extensions. It is based on students’ interests and requirements when learning something. Learners should be allowed to study on their own will and choose their learning courses from their own perspective rather than being ordered by parents or guardians. An educator should have an eye on every learner’s activities so they can keep on achieving in their upcoming achievements.

Thinkers like Carl Rogers, Rollo May, Alfred Adler, and Abraham Maslow had been classified that every learner have their own rights to choose their own educating path to achieve and supported by the help of educators. Learning does not only mean intellectual, whereas it is also focus on teaching someone or making them to obtain knowledge. Every student must be accepted as they are and not being judged for who they are in education. As a human being, each and every soul has their own liberty to pursue their studies. A learner can easily obtain knowledge when they are in a good environment physically and mentally.

Impacts of Each School of Thought

Speaking of the cognitive school of thought, its impact would be to enhance comprehension. Learners can develop a deeper understanding of the material and its application to the studies. It also boosts the confidence to have the ability to handle challenges at school and improves problem solving skills that makes it easier to learn new things within short period. The impact of behaviorist school of thought is that it allows the learner to react in a predictable way under certain conditions. Not only that, it does not consider the feelings or emotions of someone and does not explain all learning as it only explains about external forces and environment. And finally, the impact of humanistic school of thought is the freedom to learn anything an individual like rather than being ordered to learn something they hate. It also considers emotional states and how they impact on learning, and sometimes students will have different knowledge from each other if they choose what they want to learn.


In conclusion, after reviewing the three schools of thought regarding the educational process, I can conclude that the best school of thought is when the teacher teaches through the formal conditions of schooling, so it is better to use the cognitive school of thought. In my opinion, the best school of thought is when an educator is teaching via formal learning circumstances in school, it is better to use cognitive school of thought. It is because the students will easily understand what the teacher is trying to convey. Not only that, students can voice out their point of view without any obstacles from external forces, they can also build their self-confidence by the cognitive school of thought, as they can finally speak up their opinion in front of other people, which leads to boosting their confidence level.

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Three Schools of Thought in the Context of the Educational Process. (2023, September 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from
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