Whiplash the cowboy monkey

Right now I am in Dallas for a two day training. I am teaching a dozen learning designers how to use some of the more advanced Moodle features.

I have learnt a lot in the couple of days that I have been here. For example that is possible to have a skating ring inside a shopping mall when it is 40 degrees Celsius outside and that you do not only have drive-ins for food but also for general groceries, pharmacies, ATM’s and even for donations (drop off those old clothes without getting out of the car!).

I also went to see the Mesquite Championship Rodeo. I had never been to a rodeo before and I thought it was a great event. They did bull riding, broke back horse riding, roping (with headers and heelers) and barrel riding. It is probably one of the only sports where women earn more money than men. This is because they do the barrel riding, which is truly one of the most exciting horse events I have ever seen. They have to race their horse around three barrels in a clover pattern and they do this at an incredibly high speed.

The highlight of the evening was Whiplash the cowboy monkey. This is a 21 year old Capuchin Monkey who has been “riding” on border collies herding sheep for over 18 years. Check him out:

To me the real star of the show was the dog. I am always impressed when I see dogs herding sheep. Training animals is a real art and I always wonder whether those same techniques could somehow transfer over to training human beings. Would my course for the learning designers been (even) more succesful if I had given them an oreo cookie after each properly executed assignment? Some people do believe that this is the case: At Masie’s Learning 2008 there will be a keynote from Amy Sutherland in which she will explain how she trained her husband using her experience training exotic animals.

Which learning philosophy do you think that Whiplash’s trainer used? I am pretty sure it wasn’t a social constructivist one!