Short Essay on Learning by Insight

In solving problems of mathematics in the school and those of life in the world we do follow this method in, many cases. There is a tendency in animal as well as in men to find out the solutions of difficult problems by trial and error method but the -whole behaviour of man is not based on this sort of learning.

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Skills like walking, talking, running, swimming, cycling, reading and writing can be well explained by this theory. Pupils should remember the motto of ‘practice makes a man perfect,’ ‘work hard’ ‘try, trying again’.

Kohler and Koffka, were the chief exponents of this theory. They stressed on the totality of the process of learning. They took the process of learning as a synthetic activity which brings forth complete solutions of problems.


They referred to the sudden appearance of solutions in many cases. Insight means penetration into the nature of things to find out the solution of a problem without necessary trial and error.

Experiment 1

In one of his experiments Kohler shut up his chimpanzee, Sultan by name, in a big cage. Out placed a banana at a considerable distance of the cage. Close the cage there were put two sticks-one of them a long one and the other a bit shorter.

The shorter stick could be screwed into the long one. The long stick could not reach the banana but if the other one was screwed into it, the banana could be touched. Sultan tried to get at the banana.


He tried the longer stick but it did not reach the fruit. The other was still smaller. He sat down and began to play with the sticks. But he was still brooding over the matter. Suddenly an idea flashed to him.

He thrust the smaller sticks into the hole of the longer one and thus managed to get at the banana with the help of the combined sticks.

Experiment 2

In another experiment the chimpanzee was shut up in a room with unsalable walls. A banana was hanging with the ceiling. The animal was hungry. He jumped at the fruit but it was too high. He left the efforts and sat down.


There was a box lying in the corner of the room. The animal began to play with the box. He then suddenly got up and pushed the box to the centre of the room below the banana, jumped from it and got the fruit.

Kohler says that learning is a question of perception and not mere motion-activity or mere trial and error. He insists that this sort of learning is very useful in difficult and complicated institutions.

In fact, man does not always learn through trial and error. He often learns through insight. Anyhow learning by insight is much superior to learning by trial and error and we should encourage the children in this process.

Educational Implications:

(a) Learning by insight leads to transfer of training.

(b) It saves time and energy because it is quick, efficient and permanent.

(c) It can be used while teaching lessons because the teacher can proceed from whole to part.

(d) The teacher can arouse the motivation of pupils psychologically in the class-room.

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