The theory of operant conditioning is illustrated by Skinner’s rat experiment whereby a rat was put into a Skinner box , where there is food but the rat had to find and learn ways of getting the food: whenever the rat pressed the lever the reinforcement was food (Louw and Edwards, 1998). Thus, whenever the rat pressed the lever it was rewarded with food and this led to it increasing the rate of pressing the lever, in the process learning that the lever is the way of it getting the food.
Thus, this is the same way in which it may be possible for children in the life span stage of early childhood development to learn tolerance towards diversity. In society children are exposed to the various races and cultures of society and the way they react, their behaviour and actions will be reviewed by the parents with a reward or punishment. If for example a child mistreats or disrespects another child because of hisher race or culture, he may receive punishment and if this is repeated on several occasions the child will begin to learn to accept the other child as he now knows that it is not acceptable.
Equally the child will be rewarded for being good and will thus learn to accept all his fellow peers in the process learning tolerance towards diversity due to these reinforcements and punishment. 2) How can children learn tolerant behaviour? Design an intervention that teaches or develops tolerance towards diversity. The foundation for an effective intervention programme that teaches or develops tolerance towards diversity is the influence if the parents (Louw and Edwards, 1998).
Haralambos and Holborn(2004) reveals that before a child is introduced to an intervention programme, the child is primarily influenced by the parents or caregivers because they are the primary socialization agents where the child will learn the norms and values of the society as well as his culture. When an intervention programme is introduced, this role will be taken by the teachers of the child. The intervention program that I will introduce that is that of a cri?? che. This will enable the child to interact to other children from different backgrounds.
The forms of operant conditioning will continue to be operational and this can be implemented through the use of reinforcements and punishments. At an institution like this the child will learn also from other children and the most important thing is to expose the child to his fellow peers and they can all learn from each other through other forms like socialization, which in itself is a major force that helps the children to learn towards tolerance diversity (Haralambos and Holborn, 2004). It will allow the children to develop further through their symbolic play as well as developing their language and motor skills (Swartz et al., 2004).
Conclusion The most important thing that helps a child to learn his social background. The child will learn the accepted behaviours, norms and values of his parents through socialization, thus, whether a child will learn tolerance towards diversity will largely depend on the parents (Haralambos and Holborn, 2004). There are also other psychological ideals that could be of significance in making a child learn tolerance towards diversity such as classical conditioning and Erikson’s Psychosocial development but I argue that operant conditioning is more realistic (Swartz et al., 2004).
Other intervention programs of significant mentioning where children can learn tolerance towards diversity include Sunday schools, preschools etc (Swartz et al. , 2004). Nevertheless tolerance towards diversity here in South Africa should be planted in the grassroots, that is, in children so that they grow up being aware of their society and prevent events like the recent racial cases of Free State University (Sapa. (2008, February).
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