S. M. Corey, V. E. Madigan
Mar 1, 1948
It is generally conceded that mere familiarity with a large body of verbal information about child development provides no assurance of intelligence in coping with the real problems of growing boys and girls. Many words that can be repeated or recognized are relatively worthless as guides to behavior. They represent a common type of learning known as "verbalism." For the purpose of this memorandum verbalism can be defined as the use of words without appreciation of their true meaning or of the meaningful content of the context in which they are used. In all types of teaching this "verbalism" can be reduced if learners are provided with a rich background of perceptual experience pertinent to the concepts being taught. Each word we use to interpret and analyze experience derives its meaning ultimately from perception. In the degree that the intended meaning of a word is far removed from the perceptual experience of the learner the meaning is inadequate, incorrect or totally lacking. If, for example, the social behavior of the year old infant is described in verbal terms exclusively a modicum of communication usually results because of the lack of experience on the part of the learners with live infants. The words have no valid reference. This situation can be remedied if, in association with the words he speaks or reads or hears, the learner has many and varied first-hand perceptual experiences which enable him to react in many ways to the twelve-month old child in situations involving social behavior. In the actual teaching situation, because of factors that do not here need emphasis, making provision for a great deal of perceptual learning is difficult. Not only is it frequently true that the subjects necessary for this first-hand experience are not available, but equally important, the specific types of behavior that should be observed are a consequence of many variables which are but slightly subject to control. Merely having infants at hand for study does not mean that, on call, the particular type of infant behavior that is desired for a teaching purpose can be evoked.