My Big Brother's Little Brother Can Be an Idiot

My Brother’s Little Brother can be an Idiot; Although You Can Teach Him…

How did you learn how to ride a bike? My big brother (Dennis) taught me, I believe when I was 4 years of age. Dennis did not volunteer to teach me, my mother asked him to do it. He was no fool (not only is my mother saintly –lets call her Sara- she also controlled a significant degree/amount of my brother’s freedom and for that matter, mine too). Having said that it was most generous of him to do it and I must say, now that I research and instruct in the area of effective information transfer he was quite effective at what he did. No wonder he went on to assume a superintendent position for one of the a largest public school districts in Canada.

You see this is how he accomplished a rather difficult task. He rode his bike in front of me (whenever possible) and reinforced how riding a bike was like the ultimate freedom for us to escape and explore our neighborhood (although a wise one may recognize this as teasing...). He related the learning not only to my world but to John's ideal/better world (As Albert Bandura may say he was the ultimate role-model). This created incentive/momentum (the proverbial carrot dangling in-front of the noggin). Dennis definitely was not too sympathetic or a “push-over” and was not above correcting or shouting if he disapproved about what I was doing. As I learned, I fell down on a few occasions. I dared not cry with him I just got up and continued…On the other hand if my mother was teaching me (God bless her) how to ride a bike and I fell not only would I have cried and embellished the opportunity she probably would have quickly come to my aid and given me such a degree of attention/compassion that it may have interfered significantly with the information transfer (stimulus-response; B.F. Skinner).

Dennis had a girlfriend at this time and actually enjoyed being around her (more so than with his little brother-I don’t know why, go figure…); therefore, he was a wee-bit rushed to complete this endeavor so he could maximize his time with his girlfriend. Thus, his verbal instruction was simply curt in nature. This again establishes an “urgency” element that has the potential to optimize information transfer –unless it becomes too much of a burden/distraction then it can significantly affect instruction in a most negative way (i.e. FCAT). Dennis kept it in equilibrium; therefore, learning optimized.

Now my brother did shout at me and indeed ridiculed me on occasion; however, when he was teaching me how to ride he didn’t shout too much and he did not ridicule at all. His curt verbal instruction combined with his visuals accomplished the task at hand.

The invaluable learning by doing phase was not without catastrophe and it was without Vygotsky's ideal "scaffolding" for bike-learning 101. I was not supplied with training wheels. I did fall quite often at first. I dared not cry and I simply got up and tried again because (as I previously said...) if I didn’t keep quiet and didn’t try again I had reason to believe he would ridicule/tease me and besides he was my big brother I couldn’t cry (at least not too much) in front of him (classic B.F. Skinner, stimulus-response...).

It should be noted that throughout the whole process was (what I refer to and I hope my english teachers will forgive me and simply verbalize John was always an oxymoron) a very tangible - intangible that we refer to as HOPE. Hope was indeed maintained throughout the whole process and if it slipped away learning-transfer would be halted immediately (just like John's Golden Fleece when he was racing and crashed-that's another story...). Hope was maintained by both parties simultaneously. I maintained hopefulness through out the whole ordeal because if my brother could learn why couldn't I! My brother truly beleived deep down that any idiot could learn how to ride...

In summary, I saw and heard others role-modelling the process. They were successful at completing and mastering a task that would ultimately improve my world. I was instructed by seeing, hearing and John Dewey "doing" this task and my instructor was valued. Most importantly what held the whole learning process together not unlike that glue Billy Maze use to "push" (God rest his soul/voice) was HOPE. I had hope that I would be successful and so did my teacher! If I fell I simply got up and tried again because I knew I could master this skill because "any idiot can do it"...

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Comments 3 comments

Kari Connor 7 years ago

My 2 favorite educational psychology theorists Bandura and Vygotsky. Really every child should learn to ride a bike this way. An adult teaching a child does not give him/her the same excitement, just maybe parental positive reinforcement.


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connorj 7 years ago from Altamonte Springs Author

Well said Kari... Bandura is my favorite (even though he is Canadian), although John Dewey is close behind. There is another lesser-guy whoo has an interesting theory-I forget what it is called, although the acronym is RTL.


Kari Connor 7 years ago

"A Lesser Guy"... I know the guy you're talking about and he's today's psychology of learning genius! Only a few other genius', like myself, know about him because his recent book release is making it's way across the country!

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