Learning by conditioning is common to all animals and human beings and useful for early education. But learning by insight is suitable only for intelligent creatures both human and animals and useful for higher learning. It is a kind of learning done by observation, by perceiving the relationship and understanding the situation.
When an individual or intelligent animal faces a problem, he thinks and looks over the whole situation and tries to find out solutions. He tries to get some clues in the ways he should proceed to solve the problem, the method he should pursue and a general awareness of the results of his actions. Then suddenly, he arrives at a solution through his mental exercises. But for this, the total view of the situation should be exposed to the individual who must feel urgency of the problem and its solution.
An experiment was conducted by Kohler to show the occurrence of learning by insight. A chimpanzee in a cage was exposed to a bunch of ripe bananas outside the cage. It could not reach the bananas to get the fruits by its hands. Two pieces sticks which could be joined to reach the bananas were however available to it. The chimpanzee failing to get the bananas by its hands surveyed the whole situation and examined the pieces of sticks. He suddenly got an idea and tired to join the sticks, so that he could pull the bananas easily. This is an example of learning by insight.
Insightful learning is also known as Gestalitic learning which means that learning is concerned with the whole individual and arises from the interaction of an individual with his situations or environment. Through this interaction emerge new forms of perception, imagination and ideas which altogether constitute insight.
Insight operates when an individual tries to find solutions to problems. A gestalt means the pattern, configuration or a form of perceiving the whole. In this situation stimuli and responses are combined in an organized and unified pattern.
The gestalitic learning implies that every situation or experience is more than the sums of all its parts. A house is more than the bricks and mortar and other materials that are in the building. A book is more than a collection of a few printed pages. Similarly a learning situation is more than the elements of which it is composed. According to gestalt point of view, the situation should be learned as a whole rather than separated into component parts and learned piece by piece.
Educational Implications of Insight Theory of Learning:
An individual has insight into a learning situation to the extent that he is able to understand the situation as a whole. A solution to a problem is an example of insight that results from integration of all the mental processes. All the higher learning takes place by this method.
When a theft case is reported, the police comes to the place of occurrence, collects data, observe the whole situation, workout in his mind all the clues to catch hold the thief and finally acts upon the solution. Complex problems require higher learning and solutions are reached only by application of insight. All new ideas and concepts, inventions and discoveries are the result of insightful learning. Teaching and learning of mathematics and science demand higher intellectual exercises.