What is the difference between training and learning?

January 7, 2013

Training implies the transference of a skill from teacher to student through repetition. Learning, on the other hand is a more sophisticated process in which a skill is developed and then applied in a variety of situations. We usually think of learning as a higher level skill that only applies to humans and training is relegated to species lower on the evolutionary chain. However, it has now been established that in a primitive way, learning is even possible for the lowly amoeba; apparently it can learn to discriminate between temperature fluctuations, anticipate its needs and conversely realize when those needs have shifted. (Physical Review Letters,DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.100.018101).
Dogs are amazing learners. The following video clip shows a dog trying to climb onto a chair swing. He has a clear intention and in spite of frustrations, he is determined he is going to figure out a way to achieve his goal. At first he seems to repeat the same unsuccessful strategy many times but slowly he makes changes and when he finally figures out how to do it, he is successful.



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