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Example: Observational learning and pretend play

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It can be an eye-opener for a parent when their child starts to mimic their behavior in the form of pretend play. Even more so when what is being portrayed is pre-divorce arguments and the stand-ins are Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.

After covering observational learning (learning) or pretend play (development), share with students this example courtesy of Carol Weis and the New York Times (2016).

Weis and her soon-to-be ex-husband had had a number of arguments leading up to their decision to divorce. It was near Christmas, and the house decorations included a nativity set. The parents explained to their then-5-year-old daughter that they were separating. Following her father’s moving out, the child began to play with the nativity set. “Through her thoughtful manipulation, Mary and Joseph carried on arguments with each other, similar to the ones she’d witnessed between her dad and [her mom].”

In the category of observational learning, I had a student years ago who said one day when she was picking up her 3-year-old son from preschool, the staff asked to speak with her for a minute. That day at recess, her son was near the top of the slide waiting for another child to slide down. He got impatient and yelled, “Too slow b****! Get the **** out of my way!” My student, somewhat sheepishly, said to the class, “I have a problem with road rage.”

If you discuss the nativity example during observational learning, give students an opportunity to share their favorite examples of observational learning. They could be their own experiences or what they witnessed in younger siblings or their own children. If you discuss the nativity example during development, give students an opportunity to share their favorite examples of pretend play. Again, they could be their own experiences or what they witnessed in younger siblings or their own children.  

In either case, consider using think-pair-share. Give students a minute or two to consider their examples, then a couple minutes to share with a neighbor, then ask for a few volunteers to share their examples.

 

REFERENCE

Weis, C. (2016, December 23). Working through divorce with Mary and Joseph. Retrieved December 27, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/23/well/family/working-through-divorce-with-mary-and-joseph.html

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About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology in community colleges since 1992, and has been at Highline College in the Seattle area since 2001. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award . She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed.