social learning

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The term social learning comes from learning psychology and was also taken up in a slightly different meaning by social pedagogy and educational science. The social work deals with social learning. Social learning is one of the foundations for so-called action-oriented, problem-solving learning. “Social learning” makes it possible to achieve this goal and uses the mechanisms of group dynamics to shape personality and society.

Concept history

SIVUS ( Swedish abbreviation Social Individ Via Utveckling i Samverkan , “Social Individual through Development in Cooperation”) was the name of the origin of “social learning”, as it was developed in the 1970s by the Swedish psychologist Sophian Walujo. It was based heavily on the empirical evidence of Scandinavian farmers and seafarers, who without consistent cooperation would hardly have been able to cope with the hardships of their living space so successfully. This originally culture-deterministic model (SIVUS) was expanded to include psychological and cultural facets. More recently, this has resulted in social learning as a learning theory.

Competence building

Social learning deals with the acquisition of social skills, which are one of the basic requirements for the success of an “ open society ”. Social competence is one of the key qualifications for the globalized world of tomorrow, because more and more people on this planet are claiming law, justice, security and prosperity. However, this development also leads to ever greater restrictions on freedoms (“Big Brother”; Orwell), which makes the development towards a democracy-conscious “open society” difficult in many ways. In another context, "social learning" also means overcoming linear, behavioristic learning and is thus a path that represents a meaningful (Viktor Frankl) and rationalization (Immanuel Kant) intervention in society.

Psychological basics

In psychology , the term was coined by Julian B. Rotter . Albert Bandura's research on model learning in the course of social-cognitive learning theory was particularly important . What both theorists have in common is that human behavior is not determined solely by external stimuli (as postulated by the behaviorist paradigm) or solely by cognitive predispositions (as cognitive psychology sees it), but rather by the interaction between the situation (external stimuli) and the person. This attitude is commonly referred to as interactionism .

Social learning and social pedagogy

In social pedagogy , social learning is the process of acquiring “social and emotional skills”. It is about the development of perception, contact and communication skills, empathy and discretion, the ability to cooperate and deal with conflicts as well as moral courage . The aim of social learning is the ability to anticipate socially .

The term here represents a modern form of education and the acquisition of social skills, which can take place exclusively or primarily in a social group . Social learning relies heavily on the mechanisms of group dynamics and is understood as a form of overcoming hierarchical, linear behavioristic learning, and is thus intended to help individual democracy- conscious development and ultimately also in shaping society. Here, emphasis is placed on developing common sense , ethics and civil courage.

Action competence is now broken down into subject, method, personal and social competence. Specifically, social learning promotes the development of one's own individual emotional and practical skills and self-awareness , as well as the acceptance of others with their individual skills and limits.

Social learning is not a method that ends at the end of adolescence, but a lifelong learning process that is flexibly designed to respond to new conditions. However, social learning is a basic attitude that should be encouraged as early as possible.

Social learning cannot be realized and succeeded independently by individual willing educators, but has to be targeted and implemented step by step by the whole team (school, day care center, kindergarten, family, ...).

Education and Social Learning

“Social learning” is often misunderstood and compared with “ service learning ” from the USA and England . Service learning describes a form of teaching and learning in which specialist learning in school is combined with charitable work. Social learning is less about “doing good” (similar to the daily good deed of the boy scouts). Rather, it is the willingness to sharpen one's own perception in order to question one's own prejudices , clichés and illusions and to face them consistently. So it's about the acquisition of " social and emotional competence ". This learning can neither happen through automatic memorization - nor through superficial project work with success (e.g. games). Rather, it is a lifelong process of reflection and shaping of the individual. All examples from the environment shape. The more different perspectives are opened up, the easier it is for the learner to recognize ambivalences and successfully apply differentiation. The inventor of suicide research Erwin Ringel called the process of failure to cope with “self-harm through neurosis” . This also applies to analogous mistakes in “social learning”.

In accordance with the vision underlying the United Nations organizations, Knapper and Cropley, in collaboration with UNESCO, have created a book based on international empirical educational and psychological research. In this, a concept for social and lifelong learning is developed and presented with the aim of enabling people to optimally cope with all life challenges on the basis of individual self-determination. Accordingly, it is within the framework of lifelong learning a priority to promote self-conscious intelligent and creative action and not primarily a matter determined by others the current and all too often short-sighted at certain power Erbringungen (test results, criteria for selection, profits) aligned expectations of teachers, educators and job givers meet. According to this universal concept, the strengthening of individual freedom (political maturity and independence, ethics of responsibility, autonomy, self-discipline, self-administration) is required in a way that is geared towards the common good.

In Austria, "social learning" (a few years later there were first attempts at "open learning") was given its own status in school learning as early as the 1980s.

In Germany, social learning in the sense of classic competencies is anchored in the framework plans as social competency alongside personal, technical and methodological competencies.

Recent developments

Learning standards, frames of reference and learning portfolios are innovations that have also influenced PISA and other assessment studies. The result is a complete reorientation of language learning and of learning in general. Social learning, which has recently been applied “ implicitly ” , also benefits from this . This is also where the interface for “learning democracy” is located. " Civic Education " or "Education for Democratic Citizenship" is the name of the form of learning that the EU has recently requested as part of " lifelong learning " ( Lisbon Strategy ) and European identity creation (building a European sphere). This “learning about democracy” is increasingly becoming a must in European schools. “Implicit social learning” will probably become the leading method for this.

See also


  • L. Blöschl, Th. N. Kahl, A. Knapp, B. Lange, M. v. Saldern, U. Schmidt-Denter, W. Stangl, J. Tiedemann: About methodical problems in empirical studies on social learning. A panel discussion during the 1982 autumn conference of the Working Group for Empirical Pedagogical Research (AEPF) at the University of Vienna. In: Group Dynamics. H. 4, 1984, pp. 375-384.
  • Th. N. Kahl: What information can the use of climate scales provide a teacher? In: K. Ingenkamp (ed.): Social-emotional behavior in teaching and learning situations. Report on the 34th meeting of the working group for empirical educational research in the DGfE from 28. – 30. September 1983 in Landau / Pfalz. Rhineland-Palatinate University of Education. Landau 1984, pp. 93-104.
  • Contributions to social learning. APS Volume 11, 1987.
  • Helmuth Öhler: Class community and social learning in German lessons. House work. Pedagogical Academy Tyrol, Innsbruck 1997.
  • “Social learning” experiences, impulses, orientation aids - a collection. 1999.
  • “Social learning” planned and yet flexible. bmuk Austria 1999.
  • "Social learning". bmuk Austria, ISBN 3-900922-50-0 .
  • Social learning - experiences, impulses, orientation aids. bmuk, 1999.
  • concerns: learning democracy, a manual for learning democracy in everyday school life. bmuk Austria, 1998.

Individual evidence

  1. Christopher K. Knapper, Arthur, J. Cropley: Lifelong Learning in Higher Education. 3. Edition. Kogan Page, London 2000, ISBN 0-7494-2794-9 .