The process of learning is an ongoing process that does not cease from cradle to grave. However, the ways in which people view learning varies. Some people view learning as an active process that one must engage in and make a more conscious effort. Others believe that learning happens in a more passive way that does not require conscious choice and attention. The purpose of this paper is to share different theoretical perspectives about active and passive learning held by Piaget and Erikson. The following section will provide an overview of Piaget’s perspective.
Then an overview of Erikson’s theory is discussed. Piaget believed that learning is an active process that requires continuous adativity to one’s environment. As a result, this active process requires ongoing intellectual curiosity and knowledge acquisition on the part of the student. During this process of knowledge acquisition it is not uncommon for one to feel a sense of disequilibrium along the path and to achieve equilibrium requires assistance from teachers and parents (Behlol & Dad, 2010).
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Piaget also conveyed that humans are structured to continually integrate new information inorder to evolve and expand one’s understanding. Active learning requires one to continually assimilate new data and adapt appropriately. More specifically, Piaget proposed that intellectual growth is an active process, which entails assimilating new information with old information. Piaget also suggested that intellect is a process of one taking action and as one takes action he or she develops internatl structures and organizes the information accordingly.
However, for most people this is a gradual process of integration of ideas and allows for one to establish a new equilibrium necessary for healthy development. When a person is later exposed to new knowledge the development begins again. If students become aware that learning is an ongoing journey and not just driven by memorizing information, theories, or facts then they become much more intrigued and curious to learn from others. Erikson on the other hand promoted a more passive approach to learning.
Erikson’s theory seems to be rooted in the belief that children evolve through eight universal states (Erikson, 1950). Erikson defined the first three stages of early childhood development as: 1. trust versus mistrust, 2. autonomy versus shame, and 3. initiative versus guilt (Onchwari & Keengwe, 2008). Erikson’s theory asserted that if children grow through these stages successfully, then he or she will develop positive dispositions of trust, autonomy, and initiative. Immigrant children who develop trust during Erikson’s infancy stage are likely to have an easier time developing trusting relationships in the new land.