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The study of the behavior of blind people can provide insight and clarification regarding the learning process of humans. If a man blind from birth has learned about shapes purely by touch, when he is cured of his blindness he will not be able to recognize these shapes only by sight.
The act of learning has several different aspects. One is recollection, in which a person discovers information that they had already knew, and his brain can be triggered to remember this information without being told it straight out. Learning, however, is also achieved through associations that one has been taught. In example, a person can figure out that an apple pie is baking without being told, based on the smell which they have come to associate with this. This information was not innate- if he had never been told or seen through experience that the smell corresponded to the pie, then he would not be able to make this association. In the case of the previously blind man, the recognition of shapes by sight is not innate knowledge, since the names of shapes need to be taught to a person; the names themselves don't have any real inherent value, they just serve as convenient standard labeling. The shapes are not dictated by logic, if one had never been shown what a shape looks like and told the name, he would not be able to figure it out on his own.
The blind man has never been taught to make the association between the way that things feel, and the way that they look. For people that have eyesight, it seems simple and natural that one can visualize the way that something looks based on how it feels. If a ball fell on a person as they were napping on the beach, he would know without opening his eyes that this was a sphere, because he has learned through association that shapes which have a smooth, curved edge without any points, is a sphere. Both people with and without eyesight would be able to make this association. Someone with eyesight, however, can visualize what this ball looks like, and identify it later without touching it, because he has learned the association between touch and sight- he has been able to utilize all of his senses when he originally learned about shapes. He simultaneously felt and saw the shape, creating an association in his mind between the feel and appearance of the ball, and will automatically be able to connect them in the future, without having to teach each sense, sight and touch, separately.
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"Learning Through Association: A Blind Man Shapes a Learning Theory." 123HelpMe.com. 23 Jul 2018
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