Friday, February 20, 2009

Hello Mr Robot, how are you today?

Over at we-don't-like ABA central, otherwise known as Ms. Chew has this to say:
One of the criticisms of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is that this kind of teaching turns children into "robots," due to its use of discrete trial teaching (in which tasks are broken down into smaller units), its emphasis on data-taking, and its being based on the principles of B.F. Skinner's behaviorism.

So, lets break down why ABA is bad this time.
  1. due to its use of discrete trial teaching (in which tasks are broken down into smaller units).

  2. You have children who have a hard time understanding communication so you break tasks down into small parts that they can understand and teach those. So using a teaching method that works turns the child into a robot?

  3. its emphasis on data-taking

  4. Definitely very robotic here, this data-taking. It is almost as if they were attempting to track progress so there was evidence that the treatment plan is working. But, I am confused, is it the therapist recording the data or the child?

  5. its being based on the principles of B.F. Skinner's behaviorism

  6. So Applied Behavioral Analysis is robotic because is is based on behaviorism. Hmmm, so what is this obscene thing, "B.F. Skinner's behaviorism". I don't know that much about the specifics of his principles, so lets ask our good friend wiki to help:

    Finding the behaviorism of his time to be problematic, Skinner branched off his own version he called Radical Behaviorism which unlike methodological behaviorism did not require truth by consensus so it could accept private events such as thinking, perception and emotion in its account. Also, unlike all of the other behaviorists such as Tolman, Hull and Clark, Skinner's version radically rejected mediating constructs and the hypothetico-deductive method, instead offering a strongly inductive, data driven approach that has proven to be successful in dozens of areas from behavioral pharmacology to language therapy in the developmentally delayed.

    So taking thinking, perception, and emotion into account and using a data driven approach. This makes our children into robots?

So, does Ms Chew have anything good to say about ABA?

BA teaching has been very beneficial to my son's learning, but often precisely because of the "human element"---because of the people who are teaching him, and who don't always say the same phrase exactly the same way, and sometimes respond one way and sometimes don't.

So the good thing about ABA is when it isn't?


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