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Positive Reinforcement According to Maimonides, the 12th Century Jewish Philosopher
By Michael E Leshtz and Nathan Stemmer
Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Vol.39:3 (2006)
Introduction: Maimonides, arguably the most influential Jewish scholar ever, offers an analogy remarkably similar in “spirit” to positive reinforcement approaches to education. While discussing a matter of faith in his commentary on a tractate of the Talmud, Maimonides walks the potential teacher through the essential steps of effective education. He clearly delineates the contingencies for learning using powerful reinforcers, progressing from edible to tangible and finally to social stimuli as they change in value in accord with the student’s developing “desires.”