Question nomaqiniso Education

Educational Psychology in Primary School teaching

Discuss the importance of knowledge of educational psychology to a primary school teacher?

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  • Educational psychology is a discipline which, when utilised effectively, can extend our day-to-day understanding of how to deal with learners within a classroom and to ensure the most effective learning and development for everybody. There are many different branches of, and theories within, educational psychology, but there are a handful which feature commonly used principles. Educational psychology itself studies learning processes and the ways in which they can differ on individual, social and even wider societal levels; an understanding of these factors means that learning can be more appropriately tailored to the demographic of a particular learner group. It focuses mainly on learners and the ways in which they take in information, or the reasons behind certain types of behaviour. The most obvious example of a central theorist who is relevant in a primary school setting is Jean Piaget, who posited a theory about early childhood development which suggested that all children go through certain ‘stages’. Learning should be considered and adjusted to whatever stage the child/children in a group are currently at. In line with Piaget’s existing work, Lev Vygotsky, another oft-cited educational psychologist, introduced the concept of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), which measures the distance between what a learner can do with support and what they can do unaided. The work of Jerome Bruner contrasts somewhat sharply from Piaget’s work, though shares some ground with Vygotsky– he coined the term ‘scaffolding’ to describe the process of gradually removing the support given to a learner with the ultimate goal that they can perform a task unaided. The benefit of a primary school teacher knowing about educational psychology is in being able to apply the central principles of them wherever it would be appropriate and further learning and understanding.