3.2.5 An Alternative Perspective: The Importance of Other People in Our Immediate Social and Learning Environments

In Section 3.2.2 you learned about Bandura’s theory of learning through observation, or by “modeling.” Other people can affect our learning in many ways, both positive and negative. In the video below, Levene acknowledges the positive role his family have played in his personal development.

Download this video clip.Video player: Levene (his own words are spoken by an actor)
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Transcript: Levene (his own words are spoken by an actor)

Yes, I had a lot of support from my family. You know, I suppose you could say you take that for granted but, yes, I did have a lot of support from my family.

End transcript: Levene (his own words are spoken by an actor)
Levene (his own words are spoken by an actor)
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Activity 3.10: Learning from Other People

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes for this activity.

In the animated films below we return to the story of Tina and her friends Alberto, Mike, and Sophie. In the first film we see Sophie handling a difficult situation in the restaurant, watched by Alberto, who is dining at the restaurant with his girlfriend. In the second film we see Alberto tackling a different difficult situation.

Watch the two films now and make some notes about what Alberto has learned, how, and from whom.

Download this video clip.Video player: Film 1: Tina in the restaurant
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Transcript: Film 1: Tina in the restaurant

Location: Ellen and Alberto are dining in the restaurant where Tina now works. Eric, a fellow diner, is sitting at the next table.

Ellen:
Alberto! It’s really lovely in this restaurant!
Alberto:
I’m glad you like it Ellen. My friend Tina’s got a new job here and she recommended it.
Eric:
Hey! Hey! Get me the manager! The service in this place is awful!
Tina:
Hello Sir. I’m the restaurant supervisor. How can I help you?
Eric:
I ordered fish and salad but your stupid waiter has brought me steak and fries. I don’t eat meat so I can’t eat my meal. If I wait for my fish to be cooked I’ll miss my train.
Tina:
I’m sorry, sir. Let me get this right. You ordered the fish and salad?
Eric:
Yes.
Tina:
But the waiter brought you the steak?  Is that right?
Eric:
Yes. Yes!
Tina:
And you don’t eat meat so you can’t eat your meal?
Eric:
Yes, that’s right.
Tina:
And finally ... You can’t wait for the right meal to be cooked for you as you will miss your train?
Eric:
Yes, that’s it. My train is in 25 minutes. I had just enough time to eat but now I haven’t the time to wait for a new meal to be cooked and then eat it.
Tina:
I’m really sorry, sir. I can understand how you feel. What would make this OK for you?
Eric:
Well ... Could you get me a fish burger and fries to go, so I can eat it on the train? And maybe take some money off my meal?
Tina:
Of course! That’s not a problem sir!
Eric:
Thank you!
Tina:
I’ll get your fish burger and fries myself, right away, and reduce your check by 50%!
Eric:
Thank you, that’s great!
End transcript: Film 1: Tina in the restaurant
Film 1: Tina in the restaurant
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Download this video clip.Video player: Film 2: Alberto in the subway
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Transcript: Film 2: Alberto in the subway

Location: Mike and Alberto are on the subway train when Alberto bumps into another passenger.

Passenger:
Hey! Mister! Watch where you’re going! You’ve spilled my drink! you idiot! 
Alberto:
I’m really sorry!
Passenger:
Sorry? Sorry? You’re asking for trouble! I’ve got an important meeting but my shoes are a mess now and I’ve no time to go home and change!
Alberto:
I’m sorry sir. Did I hear you right? I spilled your drink when I bumped into you and it’s gone on your shoes?
Passenger:
Yeah, that’s right!
Alberto:
And you’re going straight to a meeting and won’t have time to go home and change them?
Passenger:
No time at all, dumbo!
Alberto:
What would make things OK for you sir?
Passenger:
Well, I don’t know. You could buy me a fresh drink at the next station and get me a shoeshine there.
Alberto:
OK! That’s a deal.
Passenger:
Thank you!
Mike:
Alberto. You handled that really well. I thought that guy was going to hit you.
Alberto:
So did I, for a while. But I tried to do what Tina did with a complaining customer in her restaurant last evening.
Mike:
What’s that?
Alberto:
A customer was shouting for the manager because he’d been brought the wrong meal and couldn’t wait for the right meal as he’d miss his train.
Mike:
What happened?
Alberto:
Tina handled the situation brilliantly. First she repeated his complaint, I suppose to show she was listening to what he had to say.
Mike:
Yes, then what?
Alberto:
He seemed to calm down a bit. Then she asked him what it would take for things to be OK.  The customer seemed pleased to be asked and said he’d like a meal to go, so he could eat on the train.
Mike:
Ah, right. I see!
Alberto:
And Tina said that was cool, and said he wouldn’t have to pay for it. The guy seemed happy with that.
Mike:
That’s our Tina! I knew she’d be perfect in that job!
End transcript: Film 2: Alberto in the subway
Film 2: Alberto in the subway
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Comment

In Film 1 we see Alberto learning from Tina how to handle conflict when he watches her negotiating with a complaining customer in the restaurant in which she works. In Film 2 we see Alberto putting his learning into action when he applies the things he has learned from Tina in a new situation—a subway train. Alberto has learned from Tina two techniques for handling conflict:

  • Repeating what the other person says in order to make them feel their feelings are being taken seriously.
  • Asking the other person what it would take for the situation to be OK for them.

In the next activity, you’ll begin thinking about the people who have been involved in your own learning.

Activity 3.11: Who’s Been Involved in Your Learning and Where Did It Happen?

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes for this activity.

The aim of this activity is to encourage you to think about who you have come into contact with while learning. To complete the activity you should do the following:

  1. Draw a table similar to the example in Figure 3.4, with the headings “Example of my significant learning,” “Who was involved?,” and “Where did the learning take place?”
  2. Choose three examples of your own learning and make notes on each example under the headings you have created, as shown in Figure 3.4.
Figure 3.4 Table showing who has been involved in my learning
Figure 3.4 Table showing who has been involved in my learning

You should focus on examples of your learning where you feel you have gained new qualities, skills, or knowledge. For example, you may have learned a new skill when your older sister showed you how to change a tire. If you have learned to drive, you may feel that you have learned a skill. You might also feel you have gained knowledge of what a particular road sign means, for example, and certain qualities, such as being a patient and careful driver.

When you have completed your table, make notes in response to these questions:

  1. Did the examples you selected have anything in common? Are they typical of learning that has been important to you?
  2. Did your selected examples involve learning from similar people or were they different?
  3. Did your selected examples share similar locations or were they different?

Comment

This activity is similar to what you were asked to do in Unit 2 as part of your evidence gathering. At this point, the focus is different. We are asking you to think about who has been involved with your learning and where this learning took place. The example of learning to drive a car was included because it can have many implications for how people live their lives and even what jobs they can have. But there are different people who may teach us how to do this. We may have lessons from a qualified driving instructor; we might ask a friend or relative to show us. Either way, other people have to be involved—if only because we cannot drive a car alone before passing the driving test.

In the next section you will learn about some learning theories that have acknowledged the role of other people in the learning process.

3.2.4 Evaluating Learning Theories

3.2.6 Theories of Informal Learning