ClickerExpo announces the 2009 season of its highly popular conference series for animal trainers at every level, from new dog owners to professional zookeepers. If you've ever wanted to know how trainers bond with orca whales, teach sea lions to play soccer, or train a dog to lie down quietly outside the local coffee shop while they sip a cup of java inside, then ClickerExpo is for you.
Hey, this stuff works across species!
This isn't really news. Most of us know that operant conditioning is the primary method of learning, and the best method for teaching across the animal kingdom. But sometimes it's easy to forget that it works just as well on people.
Last month I went out to Seattle to get to know Karen Pryor Academy's first class made up of international students exclusively: one from Hong Kong, two from Taiwan, two from Israel, one from Finland.
On a recent beautiful autumn morning (I'm writing from Tasmania, Australia), my wife and I took our daughter, Charlotte, on an outing to the park. There were half a dozen other kids there, all scrambling over the fort and slide together.
I've always been interested in play. Science doesn't explain it very well, or it's explained as something young animals do to practice future skills. But that definition doesn't cover every kind of play, and it doesn't explain why it's so much fun, so reinforcing in itself.