Module 2: Understanding Learning
Unit 1: Motivation for Learning
ACTIVITY 1: Your own learning
Write about helpful and unhelpful approaches to learning during your own education. What was positive about those approaches? Did they reflect or express any particular theories of learning?
Life is a learning experience. When I was a young girl I was so confident and positive about what I wanted. Maths and Science were my favourite subjects but I was not given freedom to learn as I wanted to learn these subjects. I realized this after I gained a very good experience in teaching primary school children.
"Student motivation is rooted in students' subjective experiences, especially those connected to their willingness to engage in lessons and learning activities and their reasons for doing so." (Brophy, 2004, p. 4)
According to Brophy, I must say learning is, interesting fun and exciting when the curriculum is well matched to students' interests and abilities and the teacher emphasizes hands-on activities in order to keep the students busy and engaged. When the teacher teaches the right things the right way, motivation takes place by itself. If students are not enjoying learning, something is wrong with the curriculum and teacher's instruction. At times I felt my school life was boring and frustrating because I hated all subjects except Maths and Science. I had to sit and listen to longtime instructions and copy the notes from the chalk board. I managed myself for learning because I had to show the Progress Report with good grades to my dad.
ʻScience is like everything, I guess ... and I think everything has a science to it. [When] baking cookies you have to add the right amount of eggs and milk and stuff like that (Kaufman, Moss, & Osborn, 2003, p. 48)
As I agree with Kaufman, Moss & Osborn's point of view, these two subjects add lot of fun to learning as they contain lot of practical activities which are conducted in the school laboratory. I loved to learn through doing and touching, it is because I had trouble sitting still and learning. My worst day during Science period was when my teacher said no when I offered him my help to fix the Bunsen burner to the gas cylinder. He said ‘you are still young so must stay away'. Now I understand that I was a kinaesthetic learner that time, my teacher could have engaged me in his work because I could be better able to understand information by doing hands-on activities. I am not going to blame my teacher for this because at the time of my learning teacher centred education was given importance by educators. If teachers are able to understand children's learning needs, it will reduce lot of frustration like homework incompletion, failures in assessments and sports and speaking in public. As long as I know sometimes kids are just doing what works for them but, the curriculum in practice when I was in school did not cater the child's individual needs and the educators did not consider the child's learning style. I know that cognitive focuses on the inner mental activities such as thinking, memory, knowing, and problem-solving so, I think at cognitive stage the children should be catered carefully according to their learning needs.
I gained lot of experience in teaching, today I am an experienced teacher, I wish I was my teacher when I was in school because when I was a child I did not get what I give to the pupils in my classroom now. As a teacher, I work in my classroom according to my children's expectations. I believe in group work, differentiated planning, reading a lot for fun, guided reading, shared reading, classroom policies, and ongoing assessments which help me know the level of progress frequently. The few hyperactive boys in my classroom are always my helpers; they are always engaged in classroom jobs. In a typical classroom, some children process information best by hearing the teacher explain it, some learn by seeing what's on the chalkboard, and others learn through hands-on exercises. Nowadays colleges have increasingly begun teaching new students about learning styles so they can develop effective study habits.
Three basic learning styles are auditory, kinaesthetic, and visual. Auditory learners prefer listening to explanations over reading them and like to study by reciting information aloud. These types of learners may want to have background music while studying, or they may be distracted by noises and need a quiet space to study. Kinaesthetic learners learn by doing and touching. They may have trouble sitting still while studying, and they are better able to understand information by writing it down or doing hands on activities. Visual learners process new information by reading, looking at pictures, or watching a demonstration but, they may grow impatient listening to an explanation.
I still remember the learning style and classroom setting when I was small which is mostly similar to what shown on the video clip of ‘The four UK teachers' experience in a Kenyan school'. At least for ten years my classroom strength was 35-40 children, our tables and chairs were laid in rows, teachers table and the chalk board was at the front of the class. The classroom layout was so congested, though we learnt how to move around without any incidents, our teachers never approached each table in order to assist the individual needs. Teacher instruction was mostly lecture based and activities contained more board work. We were never treated according to our learning styles which are auditory, kinaesthetic, and visual - instead the whole class was given the same type of activities only the able children understood them and completed on time and the rest were neglected.
Regret to say that our teachers failed to realise that all of us are designed to absorb information differently; each learning style results in people with various interests, desires and talents and learning is more fun and effective when the teachers look into multiple learning styles. Children learn more efficiently on their own way and can reach their potential by working smarter. Once a teacher identifies the child's learning style, she can give that child the freedom to learn which will support his work at home, at school, and in life. Once my English language teacher asked us to write a simple paragraph on ‘Good Schools', since I like role play activities, I wrote the paragraph and drew pictures of girls and wrote two dialogues in the speech bubbles as they speak the positive things in the school. My teacher saw my work and crossed out the picture and said ‘this is not required here'. That time I took this as my teachers valid point of view but later when I became a teacher I thought my teacher should have appreciated my speech bubbles and corrected the sentences or showed me what rules I should follow when I write statements in the speech bubbles. In this way the teacher put a full stop to my desire in learning or trying new concepts.
The educators should be able to understand the learning styles of the learners and should provide opportunities accordingly. A kinaesthetic learner should be given more activity based work, for an example- in maths lesson for addition; this type of a learner can be given counters rather than asking him to work out the sums mentally. Kinaesthetic learners should be able to experience and explore the learning aids/ models which are available in the classroom or lab. Learners with strength for visual learning tend to process information by visualizing and seeing it. During a PD training which I attended recently I learnt that about 65% of the population prefers to learn visually. Visual learners in schools can be given opportunities to use colors to organize, receive written instructions and lists, look at graphics like film, flow charts, or diagrams, use visualization when memorizing information, take detailed notes and draw graphics as they learn by looking. People with strength for auditory learning tend to remember information they hear and discuss. According to what I learnt, about 30% of the population prefers learning with an auditory style. Auditory learners in the classroom can be given recordings of materials like video clips of rhymes or documentaries to be learned; can participate in discussions or discussion groups, have questions read out loud, receive verbal instructions and read written information out loud. It is very sad to say at the time of my learning in the schools I did not see teachers had any knowledge of the types of learners and teach them according to their needs but learning was on going in the classroom. If this is the case how did I learn? This is a very difficult question for me to answer.
The learning theories of the school where I studied were forced me to learn in the way I did not want to, the classroom instruction in my school life was mostly suitable for visual learners as there were activities like reading text with pictures, key points of the lesson given on the chalk board and copying texts from the chalk board to the note books. There were hardly any resources around the classrooms; the teaching aids were the text books, chalk board and the chalks. I liked to spend more time in the Science lab it's because of the laboratory equipment which our Science/Maths teacher used during practical lessons. I enjoyed these subjects though there were limited resources available in the school lab; the teachers conducted the lessons as for the whole class without realizing the individual needs of the children. I did not study the English language as the way I studied Maths/Science. English was taught through visualizing things, long instructions and reading paragraphs in texts.
"If teachers use a lecture style for instruction, the English language learner will not receive as much comprehensible input. " (Haynes, 2007, p. 6)
Haynes argument is right. I became impatient listening for long periods during English. Once my English teacher caught me reading my favourite story book in the class and said ‘you must spend time with your text books, you should never read story books it is a waste of time'. I followed her instructions and never read story books ever since she told me. Why did not this teacher realize that reading open doors for many worlds? Had I read a lot or be encouraged to read that time I would have had a rich vocabulary when I entered the High school. Another day a story teller visited our school to read stories to each year group and involved the students in making story props and acting out the stories. This was the most enjoyable moment during my English lesson; I had an opportunity to learn new vocabularies too. Everyone had fun during this lesson because the story teller involved each and every student in a kind of activity.
Another issue was no school policies were read to us on the first day of school as there were no many policies constructed for the school at that time. We knew how to go in a line to the library, hitting and verbally abusing the peers not allowed, wore neat uniform every day, respect the teachers and so on but we were never taught any of these. I think the hidden curriculum in my school was stronger than the curriculum which was in use that time.
Then I moved to a college for my higher education. I can say from my college experience that many higher education instructors still do not realize that students vary in the way that they process and understand information or attempt to respond to those differences in their pedagogical efforts. Effective teaching cannot be limited to the delivery of information; instead it needs to be based on a model of minds at work. Effective instructors are those who understand the importance of involving all of their students in learning how to learn. Effective learners are created when instructors affirm the presence and validity of diverse learning. At the college level the cognitive development occurs at the same pace but the learners experience different kind of problems or issues due to many changes. One of them is ‘culture shock'.
Newcomers have usually left behind family members, friends, teachers, and pets. They are no longer surrounded by a familiar language and culture. Children often do not have the full support of their parents because the parents are experiencing culture shock, too. (Haynes, 2007, p. 2)
I agree with Hayens because the greater the difference between the student's new culture and the student's primary culture, the greater the shock. During this stage, I as a newcomer was excited about the new lives. Everything was wonderful and we were having great time learning about the environment. For me the differences between the new culture and the old one become more apparent. I rejected my new surroundings because there was so much that I did not understand. At times I felt sleepy, irritable, uninterested, or depressed; there were few more students who felt the same as I did. In my college the English language learners were frustrated because they could not communicate and are bombarded with unfamiliar surroundings, unreadable social signals, and an unrelenting barrage of new sounds. I was homesick and missed my family, friends, and familiar sights and sounds but, our instructors failed to realise this and started their duty - stuffing our brain with Physics, Chemistry and Biology. I was compelled to listen and follow what they instructed but, I did not know how much I learnt at that stage. In fact, I was surprised and overwhelmed by the lectures though we were forced to learn what we were supposed to, because the instructors knew so much about the subject taught. At times I asked myself, how did the instructors prepare themselves so well in order to answer all types of questions asked by the students? I saw them as good role models from the way they socialized with others, and delivered the content of the subjects during lectures. Listening to a lecture involves active attempts to construct new knowledge but, most of the time I felt that the instructors could have included videos to their instructions, involved us in presentations or group discussions as I loved these types of activities.
ACTIVITY 2: Why are theories of learning important?
Write down some initial thoughts about your own priorities at this stage of your development as a (head) teacher. To what extent do your own current priorities coincide with the priorities mentioned above?
There are many different theories of how people learn. What important and useful is to consider their application to how our students learn and we teach our educational programs. It is interesting to think about our own particular way of learning and to recognize that everyone does not learn the way we do. In my opinion one of the main points is a teacher should know that each student does not learn in the same way others do. This means if the teacher chooses just one style of teaching such as direct instruction or collaborative learning or inquiry learning the students will not be maximizing their learning potential. For sure a teacher cannot reach every student on the same level during one lesson, but implementing a variety of learning styles throughout the course allows all the students to experience the chance to learn in at least a way that matches their learning style.
Most of the materials used to educate students beyond primary school are largely text and lecture based, which have significant limitations. Those students are not involved in group work or discussion activities. Reading is a very important learning mode but, not all students learn effectively from reading. There are students who do not like reading a lot but, respond better to visual and audio stimuli of lecture but often get lost in the material or lose interest in the presentation. In this type of a learning environment, students have limited opportunity to ask questions or may be uncomfortable asking a question in front of the class. So the learning theories we have should cater the individual needs of the children. I believe student learn best by trying to make sense of something on their own with the help of the teacher along the way. Therefore the learners should be involved in activity based learning and given the freedom to use the classroom resources around them. Another important point is that the best way to learn is by having students construct their own knowledge instead of having someone construct it for them. For an example, for giving them the concept of Addition they should be given counters or an abacus to find the sum of two numbers rather than explaining this on the chalk board. For the language development they should be given activities for listening and writing which will be an interesting activity too. Science and Geography can be taught through pictures, video clips, lab work with a lot of experiments and the use of internet. At times I did not get the clear concepts of the subject taught when I attended the lecture type classes but I had an opportunity to understand better when I was asked to teach the same concept to someone else on my own. An experienced teacher should always use cognitive terminology such as "classify," "analyze," "predict," and "create" when assigning tasks to the students, this helps the students to explore and research to find lot of information about the subject. We should encourage student critical thinking and inquiry by asking them thoughtful, open-ended questions, and encourage them to ask questions to each other. Further, we should provide enough time for students to construct their own meaning when learning something new. We should acknowledge that, students' understanding and prior experiences about a concept before teaching them, which is as vital as breathing. Group discussions that we organize should encourage communication between the teacher and the students and also between the students.
All learning and some elements of non-learning begin with situations where there is a disjuncture between a learner's biography (past experiences) and their construction of present experience. (Jarvis, Holford & Griffin, 2003, p. 70)
As Jarvis, Holford & Griffin explain educators should pay importance to the child's prior learning experience in order to give them the proper foundation on learning. In the school where I work the children speak English as a second language therefore I had to construct my learning theories according to their past experience with the language of English. One of the word level objectives of English for first graders is ‘to represent in writing the three phonemes in CVC words, spelling them first in rhyming sets, then in non-rhyming sets'. This is a very simple objective but difficult for a first grader in my school as their prior knowledge in English is zero due to use of no English at home. In that case if I as a teacher insist them to learn this objective then I will be committing a crime for not having any knowledge on their biography. So it is vital for me to spend correcting prior knowledge before new learning can occur, in fact we in our school where I work now spend at least 2-3 weeks at the beginning of the first term to learn the biography of the children.
Teachers must be fair in distributing their praise and all students should receive praise. They should look for positive things to say about a student's work even when pointing out problems or mistakes during lesson. Some might receive praise for bigger achievements than others but, even the lower performer needs a regular pat on the back. Teacher should also give praise or verbal rewards to the class as a whole to encourage the class and build team unity.
True, the learning theories help support planning and teaching, help to critically evaluate classroom practice and help in the diagnosis of classroom problems but in my opinion the important person who constructs the learning theories in the classroom is the teacher who is not given enough opportunities to implement these in her classroom to experience the consequences. I hear teachers of other schools say that excess amount of paper work and work load do not provide enough time to engage the children on learning. In the school where I work our teachers are not given extra duties such as after school duty, snack duty etc in order to make sure that they spend more time in the classroom and prepare for students' learning. We have special subject teachers for ICT, Physical Education and second languages so the class teachers can concentrate only on the core subjects like Literacy, Numeracy, Science and Geography. One may ask, why do our teachers are kept away from teaching ICT? In my opinion ICT should be integrated in learning however, in some cases, teachers feel ICT increases their workload, with some tasks taking longer time to complete. This can often be traced to one or more of: a lack confidence or lack of ICT skills, ineffective networks or a lack of appropriate training or technical support. To reduce teacher workloads in our schools in future, ICT strategies will be included specific workload aims although this should not be at the impression of continuing to find ways in which ICT can raise quality and pupil performance. (We are planning to improve ICT strategic planning through strategic aims, hardware, software, connectivity, technical support and staff training and development in future and involve the teachers in integrating ICT to learning).
Staff meeting or Curriculum meeting is conducted only once a week, which helps the teachers to spend more time with their work in the classroom and during their non contact periods they are supposed to prepare additional activities for the lesson they have planned. Progress Report for the pupils are being sent only thrice a year rather than every month, the teachers in our school have to spend less time dealing with behavioural issues because we have well constructed standardized policies for discipline, behaviour, uniform, food and bus and the Social worker is highly involved in implementing the policies. In our school calendar there are few days allocated as ‘Staff in Students out' for professional development which is very important for the educators to upgrade their skills. I have seen few schools in this country utilize the student time I mean have shortened day in order to organise PD for the staff.
In some schools teachers spend most of their time on disciplining the children and dealing with behavioural issues because of the weak hidden curriculum in place and no proper plan or policies to manage these types of issues there. Some educators want to expose themselves as good teachers or professional and show that they can manage the children very well, so they spend more time on putting up class displays, classroom management and less time on teaching the children. I have seen educators who work only for survival, their aim is to spend the days in the school and get monthly wage on time.
The overall goal of the teachers should be to help and support students develop into self motivating learners. Students who are encouraged to become motivated lifelong learners will be more successful in and out of the classroom. When I worked as a teacher in other schools I had to teach all the subjects including IT and Physical Education, send monthly progress report home, prepare student portfolio for each child in my class, do after school duties and attend meetings with the Principal for four days in a week. I must say at that time I was frustrated for not having enough time to concentrate on the learning of my students and I was able to realise that they were not gaining anything according to their learning style.
So, when I became as a head of a school I made sure that the teachers are given more time to spend for the children not with paper work and so on. The Social Worker and I are directly involved in solving behavioural issues in the school so the teachers will not have to spend time on this issue. The school policies and curriculum should be child centred and focus only on their learning. Educators should spend more time on pupils learning for which the strong hidden curriculum of the school should be helpful so that the teachers can construct proper planning for their teaching rather than wasting their time on other issues like behaviour and discipline. What I am trying to explain is that the learning theories we construct should focus on the child's academic and intellectual development.
ACTIVITY 3: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
List eight ways in which you motivate pupils in your classroom and school. Explain which motivational forms are intrinsic and which extrinsic.
We know nothing about motivation. All we can do is write books about it.
- Peter Drucker
I have read a lot about ‘Motivation' in books and on websites. I think Drucker is concerned about the nature of understanding the term ‘Motivation'. I know what motivation is but, I do not think that I have made a closer inspection to it ever in my career. I have motivated the learners to read a lot, work smarter, behave well and be a good role model through rewards and appreciation as the way the factory workers are encouraged by ‘end of year bonus' so that production improves and absenteeism falls.
No one can know the future at least in any detail. In preparing the future, students should be able to develop viable occupational skills. Learning a discipline and doing it well provides the foundation for a sense of purpose, security and confidence in adulthood. In addition to this the students should prepare for change. As we see, change is best handled and even welcomed, when individuals possess a well developed mental skills associated with original creative and independent thinking.
Further, according to Martin V. Cavington, the greatest legacy of education is to encourage in our students a will to learn and to continue learning as personal circumstances-change in short to promote a capacity for self renewal. Today many students drop out of school without a single achievement for which they can feel uniquely responsible for it. More ever the majority of the students fail achieve their potential due to lack of motivation in schools and home.
How to always be motivated? Keeping our motivation high is the key factor to achieve our goals. We all face setbacks in life but, the ability to turn it into a lesson and move through a positive direction should be our aim for which motivation is highly required. If we are not motivated, we will experience difficulties in turning our great ideas into great results, wake up in the morning without any desire, ask people around us for support, give up our tasks before finishing them, postpone important decisions and wish that we will have a set of helping tips to overcome our setbacks. If we as adults will have to face a great deal of inconveniences due to lack of motivation, what will happen to those who just started their life in schools as children? What will be the consequences for being not motivated by important factors? How motivation takes place in classrooms and schools?
"A primary concern for educators is how to balance the use of extrinsic incentives as needed to promote student task engagement while establishing a climate that also fosters intrinsic motivation." (Alderman, 1999, p. 213)
The motivation comes from the pleasure one gets from the task he does or from the sense of satisfaction in completing or even working on it. As Alderman explains, we should equally balance extrinsic and intrinsic motivation in order to promote engaging students on task. According to what I understood intrinsic motivation means motivation which comes from inside an individual rather than from any external or outside rewards, such as money, trophies or grades. Extrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from outside an individual. The motivating factors are external, or outside, rewards such as money, trophies or grades. These rewards provide satisfaction and pleasure that the task itself may not provide.
Is intrinsic motivation the solution for increasing student engagement? One perspective is that intrinsic motivation to learn is a necessary, but insufficient, component for academic achievement in classrooms; that is, one can enjoy learning or have an interest in a subject, but lack the strategies necessary for continuing motivation (Alderman, 1999, p. 218)
According to Alderman's argument, an extrinsically motivated student will work on a task even when he has little interest in it because of the anticipated satisfaction he will get from some rewards. The rewards can be something as minor as a smiley face to something major like a trophy or free computer game. For example, an extrinsically motivated child who dislikes maths may work hard on maths problems because he wants the reward for completing it right.
For me it is very difficult to agree with Alderman's point of views on ‘motivating extrinsically will result positively' as I have teaching experience with children of some (sorry to say) arrogant parents, rich parents who are proud of their wealth and children who enjoy the most lavish life in this country which is completely different where I come from. I have implemented many strategies for motivating children in my class; I never had an opportunity to discriminate intrinsic and extrinsic motivation until I come across some readings on these topics by Jerome S. Bruner and Alderman. All I knew were about motivating children to be engaged on task. Two years back I had few children in my class, whose parents especially the mothers were not supportive at all; their children most of the time turned in completed homework, they had poor reading skills and had unacceptable behaviour in the classroom. In order to motivate them towards task, I used to tell them if they complete work on time or behave well they will get a smiley sticker or a badge but, I always had reply from these kids ‘I don't need I can buy them when I go out with my driver' or ‘who cares of those cheap stickers' or ‘I have got plenty of them at home'. In such a place where I am in, most of the children are not attracted by those extrinsic motivations rather they would like to get motivated by intrinsic factors.
I have spent a lot of time trying to think of ways to motivate my more reluctant students. I have tried fear” If you are late again, I will call home”. I have tried rewards “If you follow the classroom code of conduct you will earn points that you can redeem for a free homework pass or computer game. As a motivational support fear and rewards do work, for a while but, I did not want to threaten my students, and I did not want to bribe them. I want them to develop a will to come to class and learn. I wanted their motivation to be intrinsic. The question then was how I get my students to become more intrinsically motivated so that the classroom experience is more enjoyable for everyone. When Iencouraged mystudents' self motivation by structuringmy class and my teaching I met their needs which are love, respect, emotional support and to move about the classroom freely. I followed many ways to motivate the children but now, I can differentiate them according to intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors.
Intrinsic motivation takes place when there is a positive relationship between the learners and the educators. As Jerome Bruner (1966), explains that extrinsic reinforcement may lead to a desirable kind of activity and cause its repetition but will not ultimately encourage sound learning. His belief was that intrinsic rewards are more important than extrinsic rewards in the long term. Intrinsic motivational factors I implemented in my classroom and school were,
1- When I asked my students to volunteer to be my assistant and assigned jobs for them more learning went on than if I did all the teaching myself.
2- When I had those students who could not sit still for very long and lose focus easily did their maths questions on the board, they were more likely to stay focused and learn which develop the interest of involvement.
3- When I greeted my students at the classroomdoor early morning with a smile and allocate games and puzzles for them to do, they settled down more quickly.
4- When I focused on the positive things, caught my students “doing well” moments and commented about it, they did more of the same and other students followed those good practice. When I developed a positive relationship with my students, most students wanted to co operate and do well which give them satisfaction through my understanding of the individuals.
5- I had few mothers telling me ‘My son woke up early morning even before the alarm went on because of the field trip'. Interesting and regular extracurricular activities like field trips, swimming lessons, music, etc. always motivate the reluctant children to be engaged on task as these are mostly fun oriented.
6- When I was studying, I liked to spend more of my time in my Geography teachers room because she had displayed beautiful and attractive posters on the wall and changed them frequently according to the topics. In my own classroom I made sure to have colourful attractive displays because I knew the children will be attracted by the way I was when I was a student. I was always happy to see the students trying to the words in them and interact with peers about the posters.
If I am being rewarded extrinsically for doing something, then I can explain to myself that I am doing it for the reward. Rewards, for sure can decrease internal motivation as people work to obtain the reward rather than realizing the importance of finishing the work.
7- In my classroom I offered positive extrinsic motivations such as rewards and bribery or negative motivation such as threats and blackmail. In my experience either way, extrinsic motivation is crude, easy and effective. However it focuses students on the reward and not the action.
8- I stopped giving the reward and they stopped the behavior. This was useful when I wanted them to stop doing something.
Extrinsic motivation covers the way for the individuals to focus on targets. By setting their eyes on the reward, they will start playing by the rules and even develop a huge amount of persistence towards getting that reward.
ACTIVITY 4: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Write about the extent to which Maslow's five levels of need are met in your own classroom, explaining the main hindrances to achieving the higher levels of his hierarchy and how might they be overcome? Then write critically about Maslow's theory. How useful do you find his analysis?
Maslow's theory is well known for his hierarchical approach to human needs, which insists that one level e.g., the need for belongingness remains relatively unimportant until lower levels physiological needs, the need for safety have been at least somewhat satisfied. Safety needs occur when all the physiological needs are fulfilled. This contains safety for work, life, property and place to live without any violence which is followed by the needs for love and belongingness that contain sensible relationship like friendship and family relationship. When the first three classes of needs are satisfied, the needs for esteem can become dominant which is the need for self respect, respected by others, owning lot of properties and top posts in the society. When all of the foregoing needs are satisfied then only needs for self actualization will be activated last. As Maslow explains it is not always clear what a person wants when there is a need for self-actualization but, a person's need to be and do that which the person was "born to do." A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write.
According to his theory the physiological needs are obvious and they are the literal requirements for human survival. If these requirements are not met the human body simply cannot continue to function. In the same way if the learners are not met the basic physiological needs (oxygen, food, water and body temperature) their body functions will become null.
How can we apply Maslow's theory to our own classroom?
The paradigm of the hierarchical needs indicates that first attention should be paid to the basic needs of the pupils by providing them sufficient breaks so that they can have enough food, not hungry or thirsty. Different schools have different policies on food habits of the pupils. Giving food and water on time supports student achievement. When our schools are expected to raise the students' academic performance and test scores, we should make sure that every child had the opportunity to eat a healthy breakfast which is an important but often overlooked factor. (Now I understand why the Supreme Education Council in Qatar forces us to open a cafeteria in our school). Researchers report that children who skip breakfast are less able to master the tasks which are necessary to do well in school. More over it improves children's health and well-being. I have seen children who eat breakfast on time are significantly less likely to be overweight, while skipping breakfast is associated with a higher risk of obesity. We always encourage our children to eat healthy food on time and we have constructed policies for it, because we have to do that but, after I read Maslow's theory of hierarchy I understand this factor influence a child's well being to a greater level of achievement. Unless our classrooms are enough ventilated, windows on each side of the walls let enough sunlight in to the classroom, we will be not be granted license by the Ministry of education to run the school. I always thought these are the basic requirements a school building should have but, on the other side it's really great to know that Maslow has constructed this as a basic fundamental need which move a child achieves to the next level of his hierarchy of needs.
What is the role of Safety needs of pupils? We should follow all safety rules and maintain confidentiality and respect privacy of our children. Our school and classroom environment should be safe for the children to learn. Therefore we make sure that the floor has no slippery surfaces, no holes or depressions in floors, no trip or fall hazards, Light Illumination level sufficient for work performed, no top-heavy filing cabinets (either by loading or drawer opening), correct use of pins, knives, cutters, or staplers ,door open and free to exit in case of fire and first aid facilities available. The another important need is fire safety arrangements in schools which should consist of adequate number or exits for emergency escape, no locked or barred exits restricting escape, emergency exits adequately illuminated and exterior exit surfaces clear for prompt exit. In the play area the climbing structure is free of hazards good housekeeping in yard areas no uneven or broken sidewalk surfaces and drinking fountain is in working order. The confidential information about the pupils are kept in files which should be kept only for the use of the authorised person.Trust is an essential component in the development of helping relationships. Social workers or Counselors in schools should regard the promise of confidentiality to be essential for the development of pupils' and parents' trust.
"Love simply speaking has to be really distinct from desire and from joy and the other affections, because it is not limited to any one of these qualified forms" (Toner, 2003, p. 41)
Toner is right because of the social nature of humans and the long developmental period from birth to adulthood, the need for love and belonging is closely linked to the need for survival. Some teachers do an excellent job of teaching to their pupils, from the very beginning. However, they need to know that unconditional love and care are the main factors which motivate the children to learn well. Keeping this point in the mind the educators should make sure that the pupils are being loved and taken care of.
My point is that if we as educators give a little more love to the children, for sure they can move a little further up on Maslow's ladder and begin to feel self-esteem. It is how much a child values himself and how important he thinks he is. It is how he sees himself and how he feels about his achievements. Every student has a desire to learn and be successful in school. If he is not, we as educators must strive to understand the nature of his learning problems.
If pupils are demonstrating self-defeating behaviours, such as quitting, or not trying, or acting like the class clown or bully, we must recognise these are ineffective coping strategies that often create feelings of low self-esteem, and hopelessness. In that case, we must carefully handle the situation and solve the issues through the school policies and counseling. By doing this way the youngsters with learning problems will feel an increasing sense of ownership, control, and responsibility for their successes and to view mistakes as experiences from which they can learn rather than feel defeated.
Self actualization is at the top of the pyramid of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It is his belief that if the four layers of needs are met above, then one has reached self actualization. According to him when all basic and mental needs are fulfilled and the "actualisation" of the person's potential takes place. So as educators we should make sure that the learners' basic needs are met in order to prepare them to reach their potential. A child can reach his potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity and a grasp of the real world. If a teacher finds out a child is good at drawing, then he should be motivated to improve his skill in drawing, this may help him to bring out the hidden artist in him. Children who are good in maths may turn out to be engineers, pilots or mathematicians. A student's ability to reach this level of potential is increased exponentially by participating in good classroom activities like reading, writing, socializing, playing and more. I believe most human beings are constantly working, simultaneously, to fulfill their needs on multiple levels of the pyramid. In the same way the youngsters in classrooms work to their best if they are being motivated to do so by acknowledging their potential. That's why I think Maslow was a genius when he came up with the pyramid concept. Not only did he get his points across verbally, but he also got them across visually. His pyramid says it all.
ACTIVITY 5: Pupil motivation in English schools
Write about the ways in which the maths lesson on outdoor trigonometry in the Teachers TV programme motivates pupils and addresses each level in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Are there any areas within his hierarchy which are not addressed? To what extent are pupils intrinsically or extrinsically motivated?
Student motivation is depending on the students' desire to participate in the learning process. But it also concerns the reasons or goals that underlie their involvement or non involvement in academic activities. Although the students may be equally motivated to perform a task, the sources of their motivation may differ from an individual to another. The role of self becomes visible when the pupils are satisfied with what they are being given by the educators which also influences their engagement on task. Group work results in greater engagement, and teacher expectations affect the effort expended by pupils. At times we face problems of non involvement with few students in each class in the school where I work because of many reasons such as culture shock, poor level of English language proficiency, policies and procedures of the school, own traditions etc. The increasing amount of students not involving on task is an important issue in our school. Those students do not understand or converse in English because they come from non English speaking schools, they feel like an alien when they are surrounded by those who are well versed in English, good at Maths and follow school policies exactly. Some children come from schools where they were not taught of any school policies like for behaviour, uniform, food etc. A new comer's family members were shocked to know that our school does not allow children eating junk food like chips and chocolates. In the school they are forced to walk in line, listen quietly to the teacher's instructions, and follow the behaviour policy for abusing, bullying strictly, and wear the correct uniform daily therefore they feel that there are a lot of barriers in the school for them to de motivate them. It is hard to see that these children's involvements on task are positive. Though we face issues like these in our school with few students the rest are doing great job. They are fully engaged in proper activities according to their learning style and need and they believe that learning is fun in this school as the activities that are fun, collaborative, informal and active. The teacher's attitude affects their engagement, and authentic learning tasks are more likely to engage pupils cognitively.
Our school curriculum provides interesting activities like, guided reading, group reading, independent reading, storytelling, visual aids like flash cards, rhymes, story props and much more. Our teachers are trained to use all the resources professionally in order to motivate and engage them on work even then they are not necessarily motivated to go beyond the requirements of the specific learning task because of few students' resistance, lack of language proficiency and no parental support.
Pupils self respect and self esteem are valued when behavioural issues are addressed they are being treated in isolation not made foolish in front of the class. I know that implementing group work in the classroom is beneficial both academically and intellectually however, many teachers are still unclear about how to effectively organise students into groups for the purposes of learning but, learning should take place even when we put students into groups with friends (friendship groups) or non friends (acquaintance groups). According to what was shown on the video clip, I think the children are fresh and look active; they seem to be prepared for learning as none of them look tired or tardy. The children are in the safe environment. I was able to see that the light Illumination level sufficient for work performed, no top-heavy filing cabinets (either by loading or drawer opening), and the children are seated in spacious classroom. There is enough teacher student talk, the teacher looks friendly and informative and engaging them in discussions which help them to feel their self esteem. It is how much a child values himself and how important he thinks he is because the teacher is giving them freehand to choose the equipment and engaging them on an outdoor trigonometry activity which motivates them intrinsically to cope up with the task. The educator is enthusiastic and clear with what he has to impart. The verbal rewards he gives from which the learners are really motivated. Every student has a desire to learn and be successful in school so the educator strives to understand the nature of their learning problems through the activity he has assigned for them.
Their Maths teacher wants do something different, outside the classroom and without books. He wants the learners do experience out of the normal classroom, go through a change and expects that they will be anxious and worried about what is going to happen next. The children were not used to such type of differentiated activity. Though the children were engaged in group work they should have given more than three minutes for discussion as this type of work is new to them. The youngsters in classrooms work to their best if they are being motivated to do so by acknowledging their potential but, I did not see this in the classroom I saw as the teacher had engaged them only on one type of activity.
ACTIVITY 6: Draft your own theory of learning
Please draft, in not more than 400 words, your own personal theory of learning. When you have finished, post this personal statement on the discussion board, then read and respond to the draft learning theories of two other members of your cohort.
In my opinion one of the main points is a teacher should know that each student does not learn in the same way others do. This means if the teacher chooses just one style of teaching such as direct instruction or collaborative learning or inquiry learning the students will not be maximizing their learning potential. For sure a teacher cannot reach every student on the same level during one lesson, but implementing a variety of learning styles throughout the course allows all the students to experience the chance to learn in at least a way that matches their learning style.
I think giving the learner more control has become a key goal of education reform in recent years. The modern classroom should reflect a learning environment that is far different than what is called the traditional model. When we eagerly adopt new learning theories, the implication is that older theories are outmoded, or just plain wrong, and that the newer theories motivate everyone in just the right way, at just the right time. In my opinion cooperation and enthusiasm for learning should be built in students; and behaviours and attitudes that teachers should help students recognize within themselves.
The student-teacher relationship, and examine how our personality, background, and biases influence how we interact with students is more vital. Additionally, we should investigate how an engaging curriculum can help eliminate most classroom management challenges. It is also important to give students a voice in the classroom, along with the strategies for doing so. Another important point is the educators focus should be on the learning of the pupils and their relationships. We should develop a plan for enhancing these relationships;practice successful strategies for eliminating inappropriate classroom behaviour;learn how to develop students' emotional intelligence as a way to manage classroom behaviour; andadopt an approach to classroom management that will not be a constant drain on class time.
As educators we should learn how to frame instruction around concepts and essential understandings; identifytechniques for differentiating content, process, and explore how to differentiate on the basis of students' readiness, interest, and learning profile. Along with this we must help students develop phonemic awareness and phonics knowledge, ways to teach vocabulary, and how to help students make meaning from text. Further, we should consider why sustained silent reading should be incorporated at all grade levels (R-12).
When we as educators believe that all students are unique and learn in different ways, we should seek to personalize the educational experience and, through varied instructional approaches, try to make learning more meaningful for all students.
Unit 2: Theories of Intelligence
ACTIVITY 1: What do you mean by intelligence?
In the light of your comparisons, write your own definition of ‘intelligence' with an explanation as to why you have chosen this particular formulation.
When I referred my dictionary I found many meanings for the word intelligence but I did not find the exact meaning for it. Intelligence means knowledge, ability, creativity, talent, wisdom, personality, and character. In education it means, the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or challenging situations. In psychology it refers to applying knowledge. In general I think it means the ability to understand and act upon it.
In schools and colleges the educators use many tools like IQ tests, scholastic levels, exams and sports activities to categorise students' intelligent level. From primary school till college and even into the job market, young people are faced with a barrage of tests to determine their intelligence. Teachers, doctors, pilots, engineers and accountants face an intelligent test before they are being appointed so as to prove that their level of intelligence is appropriate for their profession. Then what about those who are not falling in this category? Are they not intelligent? What about those children who fail or whose grades are below average?
I have seen in many schools quite a number of children who eventually come to the conclusion that they will never amount to much because their grades are below average, drop out of school in despair at ever contributing something worthwhile to society. The failures lead them into delinquent, destructive life-styles not knowing they may have had hidden skills just waiting to be developed. They think they cannot succeed, so they set out to prove it but, they will have to survive as individuals in this fast moving world so they choose to be street workers, labourers, farmers etc. In the light of this why don't they realize that they are intelligent and highly skillful; successfully managing what they are being given where as highly qualified people cannot do what they do? On the other hand, others who are intellectually gifted think life is a bed of roses. They are the proud possessors, according to tests and grades, of a superior intellect and therefore incorrectly assume they are bound to succeed.
The traditional idea is that intelligence is dominating one's success or failure in life but I think it is a minor factor in ones success in life. I know a person who was studying in a school where I studied, his assessment marks were always below the average, never took part in any extracurricular activities like debates, quiz competitions or sports activities. His teachers used to say that he was not intelligent. Later he had to move to a college for his higher studies, there he had a chance to develop his intellectual powers and later he became a doctor. People with perfect scores on their school or college exams have been known to flounder in the real world outside of the classroom. Therefore, I must say a child's intelligence will never determine his success in his life. If this is the case how did this person become a doctor? How did he succeed in his life? The reasons for his success are his character, or the ability to developing will power, self-control and empathy, which is more important than the intellectual power of the brain. At the end what would you say if I say this physician smokes three packets of cigarettes a day? Is he intelligent?
A boy in 4th grade in my school, who is a famous figure among others for his hyperactive behaviour, is always being brought under the lime light for being naughty. He never listens to his teachers, completes his work on time, in general he is not a good at any of the subjects taught. The school had meetings with his parents many times due to his unacceptable behaviour. Since he is an active child he is always given classroom jobs like distributing books, sharpening pencils, arranging the books on shelves in the classroom etc. He is also motivated to take part in his PE lessons actively. Recently, during our Intra School Football day he won a trophy for scoring the highest number of goals and another for being a professional player. Who knows this child can turn out to be a future David Beckam.
Is success in life largely determined by the intelligence you were born with? What is intelligence, anyway, and how important is it in life? When talking about intelligence, something comes to my mind is, one of Aesop's fables: the race between the tortoise and the hare. At the start of the contest, the hare, naturally endowed with great speed, took off and leapt far ahead. Then he paused, realized the extent of his lead and took it easy. He even lay down for a nap because he was sure that he will win the race. When he woke up, however, the tortoise was nowhere in sight. The hare took off desperately, but, as he neared the finish line, he saw that the tortoise had already won.
Isn't it a good example to say that success never comes with intelligence?It seems that the steady and time-tested character traits such as humility, patience, discipline, punctuality, effort, hard work and friendliness have the biggest chance of helping one achieve a lasting and enjoyable success.
ACTIVITY 2: Intelligence tests
WRITE: The whole concept of a general intelligence has been disputed by a number of commentators. How useful do you think “intelligence testing” of this kind can be in measuring intellectual ability?
Intelligence testing is said to be used as to assess the all around effectiveness of an individual's mental processes, especially understanding, reasoning, and the ability to recall information. Tests exist are appropriate for both children and adults.
The aim of the IQ test is to measure the intelligence of a child which is an indication of that child's potential but, where does the test come from and does it really helpful to measure a child's potential?
With reference to the child I have mentioned in Activity-1 I would like to write more about him. His name is Ali joined our school at the beginning of this academic year which was in September 2009. According our school policy we test the children's academic level before giving them admission in our school though I was completely against it. Ali is a good example for it. I am not in the favour of giving an entrance test in order to test a child's intelligence level or his potential. At the time of Ali's entrance test we went through his previous school records and his medical records. He seemed to be an average child according to these records but from his entrance test scores we understood that academically he is a weak child. In his assessment paper the comments were written as ‘Ali is academically weak, he is not intelligent, and he can better if he works very hard'. Finally Ali was given admission in 4th grade as he is coming from a non English speaking school. As a head of the school I was dealing with all issues related to the children as well as Ali too. In the first term I received many complaints from Ali's teacher as he is hyperactive and his level of English is weak. He has problems in sitting and listening to the teachers. As I understood that Ali is a Kinesthetic learner, his teacher was asked to engage Ali in classroom jobs and his work with games and puzzles. Later I came to know Ali is settling down in class. Once I went to his class in order to test his academic level and engaged all children in spelling activities. As I was dictating the words I noticed Ali was writing the initial sound of each word and turning the exact pages in his copy book to find the words to copy the spellings. He did not try to copy the words from his neighbour. When I dictated the word ‘orange' I saw him taking his spelling book from his bag and turned the exact page to copy this word. I was really amazed to know that this child has lot of potential and we should work on to make him reach that level. This is not the case what I am trying to say is, during Ali's entrance test we were unable to recognise his potential and weakness or to realise he is an hyperactive child, for us it took nearly six months to say that ‘Ali is a potential child' through his work and the two trophies he scored in the football match. In the light of this should we claim that IQ tests are suitable to find ones potential or general intelligence? I do not agree.
Essa is in 2nd grade, he is academically doing a very good job. Essa can read very well, speaks fluent English and knows all the multiplication tables but he always scores low marks in the ongoing assessments. Our school conducts ongoing assessments throughout the year to know if the child has understood the topic or not. From Eissa's test scores can we say that he is not clever or intelligent, if so we will be committing a crime to this child?
Another child, Saoud joined our school at the beginning of this academic year. Saoud, in his previous school failed in the end of year exam so was detained in the same class which made him to move to our school. Saoud is an able child, he improved in reading after he joined our school though he had been granted as ‘not fit for promotion' in his previous school. As we all know that failures crush self-confidence and destroy the spirit of work, we must carefully describe a child's potential so as not to de motivate him. It is a sad fact that a large proportion of children in the schools are acquiring the habit of failure. The remedy, of course, is to measure out the work for each child according to his mental ability.
Before an engineer constructs a railroad bridge or tower, he studies the materials to be used, and learns by means of tests exactly the amount of strain per unit of size his materials will be able to bear. He does not work by his experience, and relying on patching up the mistakes which may later a problem. In the same way the educators should follow this example.
When four year olds are enrolled in Reception class in our school, they are asked to do a very simple entrance test which mostly contains drawing lines and recognizing pictures. Most of those children at the time of test refused to do it and cried so much, so we assumed they do not know anything but, when their mothers were asked to sit with them they performed very well. So I think a child's mental ability is influenced by his environment.
To successfully answer the question given in the article by Dennis, a child's mental ability should be fare to a certain extent. In my opinion every child who fails in his school work or is in danger of failing should be given a mental examination as in the article which will contribute more to a real understanding of the case than anything else but, it is necessary to determine whether the child is unsuccessful in school because of poor native ability, or because of poor instruction, lack of interest, or some other removable cause like family issues such as parent divorce, father's remarriage or poor income of the bread winner of the family. To determine all these it will take a long period as in Ali's case.
My personal opinion is that I will use this type of IQ test as for fun activities or to know a child's ability but not intelligence. The problem is that the term Intelligence has never been defined enough and nobody knows what an IQ test supposed to measure. In the light of this many children who are future leaders determined by the results of this tests. So how can we measure intelligence?
ACTIVITY 3: Gardner's Critique of Traditional Theories of Intelligence
As you watch the TV programme, note down the key points raised in discussion by each contributor. Then respond yourself to their arguments about curriculum and assessment.
Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences has met with a strongly positive response from many educators. It has been embraced by a range of educational theorists and, significantly, applied by teachers and policymakers to the problems of schooling. I think the schools should structure curricula according to the intelligences, and to design classrooms and even whole schools to reflect the understandings that Howard Gardner develops. His theory can be used within pre-school, higher, vocational and adult education initiatives.
According the group discussion of the four, no child is unable to learn, children learn some way or the other. One of the teachers says that she was taught through single intelligence way, it was not the way she was supposed to be. Later she realized the weak areas and included all the good practices in her teaching which she gained through her experience. Children are creative in different ways so they should be given different opportunities. Another teacher says the assessment procedures are another major issue widely discussed in schools. They do not include all Howard Gardner's intelligences and the children should be set to free if we are to follow his theories in classroom for which the teachers are a little bit nervous.
Howard Gardner's seven kinds of intelligence would allow seven ways to teach, rather than one in a way that children are most likely to learn it and least likely to distort it.
His theory confirms educators' everyday experience in the classroom with children as they think and learn in many different ways. It also provides educators with a framework for organizing and reflecting on curriculum issues, assessments and classroom pedagogical practices. In turn, this has led many educators to develop new approaches that might better meet the needs of the range of learners in their classrooms.
Howard Gardener's theories are,
Linguistic intelligence involves sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish certain goals. Writers, poets, lawyers and speakers are among those that Howard Gardner sees as having high linguistic intelligence.
Logical-mathematical intelligence consists of the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically. In Howard Gardner's words, it entails the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically.
Musical intelligence involves skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns. It encompasses the capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. The musical legend late Michael Jackson is a musical intelligent person. As he is a poet I think Michael is a linguistic intelligent too.
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence entails the potential of using one's whole body or parts of the body to solve problems. It is the ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements.
Spatial intelligence involves the potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more confined areas.
Interpersonal intelligence is concerned with the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people. It allows people to work effectively with others.
Intrapersonal intelligence entails the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one's feelings, fears and motivations.
( Definitions are taken from http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm)
If we talk about the student Ali whom I mentioned in Activity 1 & 2 we may understand this theory in a little more detail. Ali's level of understanding English, as he joined our school was zero but he is forced to learn and work according to his teachers instructions which are in English. He gradually improved his sensitivity to spoken and written language throughout the year. Ali once was beaten by his father at home; the next day he told his teacher how his father hit him. His teacher said Ali basically constructed and narrated a story to explain it. Ali can become a poet or a writer if he is being encouraged. Ali mostly is being given more of board work during Maths lesson in order to prevent him distracting others in the class. His teacher says Ali is very good at number work when he is given work on the board. He is a great football player and enjoys all physical activities; during this lesson he is well behaved and concentrates on his teacher's instruction very well. Ali does not work well in groups or with his peers, when he is asked to do seat work we always see him in dispute. Gardener's theory helps me to analyze Ali's abilities very well and acknowledge that Ali's inter and intra personal skills need to be addressed. I think we should implement Gardener's theory to assess children or individuals because Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences theory has helped educators to reflect on their practice, and given them a basis to broaden their focus and to attend to what might assist people to live their lives well, then it has to be judged a useful addition.
ACTIVITY 4: Going Deeper
After reading Gardner's own account of his theory of multiple intelligences, write some detailed notes about what you see as the theory's strengths and limitations.
According to Howard Gardner's theory each person is unique and has a blend of intelligences like verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily/kinaesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences which result in many different ways of knowing, understanding, and learning about our world. As educators it is important for us to get away from defining intelligence in terms of tests and begin to look more seriously at how people around the world develop skills important to their lives. It is very important to recognize and nurture all of the varied human intelligences as we are all different from each other largely because we all have different combinations of intelligences. If we acknowledge this, I think we will have at least a better chance of dealing appropriately with the many problems we face in the schools.
Gardner's MI theory of intelligence based on a different view of the human mind. He explains ‘a pluralistic view of the mind, recognizing many different and discrete facets of cognition and acknowledging that people have different cognitive strengths and contrasting cognitive styles' (Gardner 1993:6).
His view of intelligence states that mental processes gives rise to a full range of intelligent human activities. This intelligence is most completely realized in the process of solving problems and fashioning products in real-life situations. When I was writing on ‘Learning Styles' I did not have a chance to think about MI theories but, after I read about Gardner's MI theories I do want to ask someone (may be Richard) that if the relationship between laerning style and MI theories are same.
It is clear that children learn in different ways and have different intelligences. For an example our year one class children sing nurssery rhymes with their teachers everyday. One of the teachers told me that most of the children learn the songs by listening to the techer sing and singing together where as there are few boys who look at the rhyme book, and sing. What is the difference between these two groups of children? The first group are Auditory leaners and the second visual learners but they learn the same thing in a different way.
I am now recalling my past of ten years of teaching experience and trying to understand how far Gardeners theories are true. As Gardener explains, bodily-kinesthetic learners have the ability to use the body to express ideas and feelings and to solve problems. This includes such physical skills as coordination, flexibility, speed, and balance. These children are good at physical activities like running, swimming, playing football and tennis. My teaching experience is only with boys and I still have great experience with them. The naughty boys in my class were always good at sports activities and kept me busy most of the time. I have seen most of the teachers including myself used to complain about these boys for being uncontrollable and not spending their time productively. Gardener's MI theory is a great support for these educators and these boys can be physically challenged and engaged on task according to their learning style. Further thet can be involved in role play, drama, dancing, brain gym, craft work and acting.
Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand another person's moods, desires, feelings, motivations, and intentions. This includes such skills as responding effectively to other people dealing with actual situations, such as getting students to participate in projects, field trips, fun fair, circle time, pair work, peer teaching, surveys, board games etc . As teachers we can help students develop interpersonal intelligence through activities that involve them in solving problems and resolving conflict.
Intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to understand oneself, one's strengths, weaknesses, moods, desires, and intentions. This means a child's understanding of how he is similar to or different from others, reminding himself to do something, knowing about himself as a language learner, and knowing how to handle his feelings, such as what to do and how to behave when he is angry or sad. In the light of this Gardener's theory helps us to motivate students develop intrapersonal intelligence by letting them express their own preferences and help them understand their own styles of learning. Child centered education, working according to their learning styles etc should be collaboratively applied with Gardener's intrapersonal skills to be able to handle these types of children.
Linguistic intelligence is the ability to use words effectively both orally and in writing. This intelligence includes such as the abilities to remember information, to convince others to help you, and to talk about language itself. At times I wonder how people have such tallents to write articles on their own to the new papers and magazines. Late Micheal Jackson - my favourite singer is a linguistic intelligent too as he used to write his own songs most of the time. What about Howard Gardener who made a remarkable change in education world? He is a wonderful linguistic intelligent personal. Therefore we can help students develop linguistic intelligence by creating a rich print environment like word wall, mini library in classroom; by providing things to look at, listen to, and write about; and by creating many opportunities for interaction among peers and between the teacher and the students.
Logical / mathematical intelligence is the ability to use numbers effectively and reason well. This includes such skills as understanding the basic properties of numbers, as well as the ability to predict, using simple machines. In most of the schools in Qatar the schools are fully resourced but I am not sure how far the educators know how to use them in their teaching and the children are encouraged to use them. In our school we have all sort of resources such as counters, number lines, magnetic numbers, and much more. According to my knowledge number of children in each class are very much interested to use these resources during Maths. We can help students develop logical / mathematical intelligence by providing manipulatives for experimentation with numbers and by using simple machines or computer programs to help children think about cause and effect.
Musical intelligence is the ability to sense rhythm, pitch, and melody which includes the ability to recognize simple songs and rhythm in simple melodies. In our school the English program we use (Macmillan) has CDs for listening and dialogue practice. The songs / poems are sung with music and the children really enjoy listening to these songs and I know most of the children can sing all the songs which are included in the CD. Therefore, we can help students develop musical intelligence by using tape recorders or CD players for listening, singing along, and learning new songs.
As Gardener explains, certain parts of the brain play important roles in perception and production of music which biologically prpares one for this endevor. Autistic children who have got problems with the language can play music beautifully. Further to Gardener's theory even though musical skill is not typically considerd an intellectual skill like mathematics, it qualifies a person as a ‘musical intelligent'.
Spatial intelligence is the ability to sense form, space, color, line, and shape. It includes the ability to graphically represent visual or spatial ideas. There is a boy in 6th grade in our school, he is weak in literacy and numeracy but produces excellent work in Arts and takes part ia sort of project work like making 3D models, bulletine board displays. His teacher said he is very good at arranging classroom tables which are of different colours and helps the teacher to mix water paint during art. I think his teacher can help this student develop spatial/visual intelligence by providing many opportunities for visual mapping activities and encouraging thes types of students to vary the arrangements of materials in space, such as by creating charts and bulletin boards.
Every human being has all the intelligences some people have all intelligences functioning together at a high level but some lack in few of them and some have few intelligence highly developed. According to what I have written above through my readings I understand that the intelligences can be developed through the proper way of approach to them such as appropriate encouragement, enrichment, and instruction.
In my opinion intelligences are always interacting with each other for an example if I we want to paint a picture first we mix colours, sometimes we have to double the quantity of paint which is logistic / mathematical intelligence, we may gift this picture to someone that will be our interpersonal intelligence and we pain this pictuer for our satisfactio which is our intrapersonal skills.
As my experience is with teaching I think all the educators should familiarise themselves with MI theory before they apply this in the classroom. All what mentioned in gardener's MI theory are very much useful for the educators to solve issues they face in the clssroom everyday.
Once teachers learn more about their own multiple intelligences, they will become more confident in the choices they make that affect their teaching. I feel the purpose of educators learning MI theory is to connect one's life experiences to the ideas presented in multiple intelligence theory. I always wanted to teach English lesson through Art. Art is my favourite subject I think I naturally choose classroom activities that complement my own multiple intelligence profile and I hope there is nothing wrong in it.
ACTIVITY 5: Implications for Teaching
What changes would need to be made to current practice in your own school and classroom for the following implications of MI theory to be implemented? In your opinion, would such changes be worth implementing?
* Schools should value the range of intelligences.
* Learners should be able to use their preferred intelligences in learning.
* Learners should be helped to develop their less-preferred intelligences.
* Learning activities should appeal to different forms of intelligence.
* Assessment of learning should measure multiple forms of intelligence.
ACTIVITY 6: Critique of MI Theory
After listing White's key criticisms of MI theory, explain your own views.
ACTIVITY 7: Assessing multiple intelligences
Compare the test with the traditional tests of intelligence which were considered in this Unit's earlier activities. What are the respective strengths and weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages, of each approach?
Unit 3: Skinner and Piaget
ACTIVITY 1: Behaviourist family of learning theory
Write about the ways in which you think that the principles of ‘assertive discipline' might be linked to the principles of Skinner's theory. How effective might an ‘assertive discipline' approach be in your own school?
‘A behaviour followed by a reinforcing stimulus results in an increased probability of that behaviour occurring in the future' (http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/skinner.html)
I was helping my four year old son to ride on his bicycle; first he was afraid of sitting on the bike because he was unable to balance it. Then I made him sit on the bike and held him for a while and asked him if he was alright. When he said yes I showered him with praise and started to push the bike slowly but steadily. When he became used to that condition I asked him to put his foot on the pedals and pedal the bike. Though he was reluctant of doing so, with continuous encouragement and reinforcement he developed the confident to pedal the bicycle alone. I repeated this again and again; when he was nervous I backed him up with verbal rewards. This shows rewards to a certain extent motivates one succeed in life.
Skinner argued that a learner's actual response can be brought closer and closer to desired response through the controlled use of stimulus-response associations
According to my understanding through my readings, Skinner believed that if behaviour was reinforced, it was appropriate to be repeated. Skinner believed that positive reinforcement was more effective and welcomed by learners than punishment. He also believed that the reinforcement must come swiftly. Skinner's behaviourism basically relates to what he calls as "operant conditioning." "Conditioning" is the scientific term for learning. "Operant" refers to Skinner's idea that any organism "operates" on his environment I mean, performs actions that change the environment around it for good or for bad. In short I can say, ‘having a desired response by reinforcement'. With reference to the power point presentation, what I understood is that the operant psychology is based on the idea that an action taken by a person often has consequences that occur naturally in the environment. Reinforcement is something that makes to be repeated. The consequences of a given action either reinforce the behaviour or do not. For an example, if a child makes fun of the teacher's personality or teaching in school, the laughter of the other children may reinforce that child's behaviour. If the teacher punishes him by making him write, "I will not make fun of my teacher" one hundred times on the chalkboard, the child may avoid doing such prank in the future. So the child (operant) initiates the behaviour, and factors in the environment are to punish his behaviour. Reinforcement is the key element in Skinner's theory. A reinforce is anything that strengthens or motivates the desired response. It could be verbal rewards, a good grade, certificate or a smile from the teacher. He also discusses negative reinforces like punishments which result in reduced responses. I fully agree with what he says as I have dealt with behavioural issues with the boys in my school. We have a boy in fourth grade whose name is Jassim, he never listens to his teacher, always involve himself in disputes and weak in all subjects too. We have tried to motivate him towards proper path through rewards and appreciation but as they did not work at all in changing his behaviour, we applied negative reinforcement like punishments like detention for break, P.E lesson and more. Recently he was given one day detention at home with lot of homework. The next day his teacher told us that she was able to see a remarkable positive change in Jassim's behaviour.
Positive reinforcement and punishments always play an important role in classroom management. As we all see, the students become more controllable when they have a teacher who has very strong personality and is very strict, in the meantime friendly too. The teacher should be able to provide clear and strong guidance regarding both students' academics and behaviour. To have a classroom under the teachers control the students should be well disciplined and should be motivated by establishing clear rules and procedures. The teachers should develop a ‘code of conduct' with in her class which is appropriate for his/her students' level. Students should be involved in setting up the rules for each classroom it is because when they make a mistake we can say that ‘you made the rules so you must follow'. The importance of establishing rules and procedures for general behaviour, group work, transitions and interruptions are being considered as vital need in all schools. Along with above mentioned procedures the teachers must acknowledge students positive behaviour and reinforcement like providing consequences for unacceptable behaviours in the school. Teachers can build close, positive relationships with the students through the strategies like giving them free homework pass, verbal praise such as ‘good for you, wow, that's great, keep it up, terrific, beautiful' which are nowadays followed by most of the schools.
According to what I understood from the readings the assertive discipline is based on a tough set of rules, sanctions and rewards which explain that teachers have a right to teach and pupils have a right to learn. It can be applied across a whole school or individual classrooms, and functions around a set of rewards and sanctions will result in change in behaviour. Rewarding pupils for effort, punctuality or good attendance has become increasingly popular in the way in which teachers promote learning. The aim of an assertive discipline approach is to promote responsible behaviour among children and in so doing raise their self-esteem and increase their academic success.
I think the assertive discipline theory is mostly co related with Skinner's way of approach and educators should read and understand Skinner's theory very well and apply this in classroom to succeed in teaching and managing children. In our school pupils who behave appropriately are rewarded at the end of a lesson or in the morning line up. In the same way breaking the rules leads to a series of sanctions, ranging from the pupil's name being written on the board, through to detention, removal from the classroom, parents being informed, and isolation from peers and friends. We also have established common rules like (i) pupils must arrive on time to lessons (ii) enter the classroom quietly (iii) remain in their seats until asked to move (iv) come to lessons properly equipped (v) listen to and follow instructions the first time they are given (vi) raise their hands before answering or speaking and (vii) treat others, their work and equipment with respect, in order to promote good behaviour in the classroom. Setting up set of rules with the help of the children will help the learners to know what are being expected by the teachers and act upon them.
Rules are made to follow.
ACTIVITY 2: Criticisms of behaviourism
Write about the strengths of behaviourism as a learning theory. How could behaviourist principles assist the learning of pupils in your own school and classroom?
Behaviourism, is a theory of learning based upon the idea that all behaviours are acquired through conditioning. Conditioning occurs through interaction with the environment. According to what Skinner says about behaviourism, behaviour can be studied in a systematic and observable manner with no consideration of internal mental states. It means behaviour should be visible and does not have to do anything with the mental state of an organism.
‘Behaviourism claims that there is a law-governed connection between stimulus and response (S-R). However, a person's reaction to a stimulus is usually mediated by some kind of associated subjective meaning. As Dewey said: a child who has burned her finger in a flame does not regard the flame in the same way as it might have appeared to her before the burning took place'. According to this I must say, consequences of the ‘stimulus and response' sometimes have bad effect on the operant because as Dewy says the child may see the flame in a different way after she burns her finger so she may not go near the flame again or put it off but, this action (fear) of the operant may lead her loose the light or use of the flame in future.
This concept add more strength to what I noticed in the power point presentation, that is behaviourism has therefore been criticised because it disregards some of the activities of the mind. It tends to see human beings as automatons rather than creatures of will and purpose.
In the light of our present knowledge a school system must be called a failure if it cannot induce students to learn except by threatening them for not learning. (B.F. Skinner 1958, p-9)
For me it is a bit difficult to accept this theory as I have worked with boys of different culture, tradition and whose native language is not English. I would like to see this issue from an educator's point of view. Aim of our school discipline policy is, we encourage a caring, co-operative approach within a community which values and respects each individual. We believe in building positive relationships which raise self-esteem. We have high but realistic expectations of children and take every opportunity to promote and reinforce good behaviour. We believe that promoting a positive ethos within the school is the shared responsibility of all staff. Through rewards and sanctions we aim to support and encourage children to develop self-esteem, have confidence in themselves and their abilities, become self-motivated, develop self-control and self discipline and select behaviour that is appropriate to the situation, based on mutual respect and trust.
Our staff uses a range of rewards to promote good behaviour by finding the right reward that encourages a particular individual. The rewards include praise, smiles and expressions like ‘good', ‘well done' made specific to the behaviour being rewarded, name on board, being sent to another, familiar member of staff for additional praise and recognition, stars, stickers on work, class or individual certificates, note to parents e.g. in Homework Diary and End-of-Term excellent achievement certificates.
We believe that children feel more secured if they know where the boundaries of acceptable behaviour lie and what sanctions will be used if they overstep the mark. We believe that any sanctions used should be fair, proportionate and appropriate to the age and understanding of the child. It is our policy to listen carefully to all the children involved in a situation and, where appropriate, record the incident. It is important to deal with the situation as soon as possible, remaining calm and objective throughout. Children are counselled carefully and where necessary, are helped to understand the potential consequences of their actions.
In our school we face problems with children who speak bad language, hitting and fighting, damaging school properties, disturbing a class, exchanging items such as CDs and toys and bringing mobile phones to school. We deal with these issues through sanctions such as a frown from the teacher, change of seating arrangement in class, to another group, away from friends etc. (for 1 lesson, 1 day, 1 week, etc…), seated alone (never for extended period of time…), asked to write a letter of apology at home, asked to write 10 lines… “I will play nicely with my friends”, “I will listen to the teacher” (note the positive word phrasing rather than “I will not hit my friends”, I will not talk in class”) and spend some time in another class (but never less than 2 year groups younger). This method of sanction can only be used once a month. Students should be sent to another class with some work to complete. We also give them miss break, not allowed to go on school trip (can only be given by Principal) and expulsion / suspension (can only be given by Principal).
In my opinion rewards and sanctions should be given according to the type of behaviour. Most of the children in our school do not accept rewards since they enjoy all sort of lavish facilities at home but, for us, having a peaceful working environment in class is vital. Our boys really respect the sanctions (according to our policy) we apply and abide by them. They respond to all sorts of detention such as no P.E, no break, no field trip and much more as they know this will affect their enjoyment. Fear of being punished will motivate them to engage themselves on task and appropriate behaviour so I think there is nothing wrong in it.
ACTIVITY 3: Cognitive Family of Learning Theory
Write about the main ways in which this problem-solving approach to learning differs from a behaviourist approach. Explain the ways in which pupils are learning actively. How do they construct knowledge?
Cognitive learning is acquisition of knowledge and skills by mental processes. Cognitive theory is a learning theory of psychology that attempts to explain human behaviour by understanding the thought processes. Teaching is engaging students in learning; it consists of getting students involved in the active construction of knowledge. The aim of teaching is not only to transmit information, but also to prepare good citizens, transform pupils from passive recipients into active constructors of their own and others' knowledge. In another words teaching is creating the pedagogical, social, and ethical conditions in the classroom under which the students agree to take charge of their own learning, individually and collectively. Children can learn efficiently by observing, listening, taking instruction, and imitating the behaviour of others.
In cognitive learning, in the classroom the individual learns by speaking, listening, watching, touching, reading, or remembering the information. Cognitive learning might seem to be passive learning, because there is no motor movement but, the children are actively engaged in acquiring information from different sources. As I have worked with children I am able to say that children learn through different ways. They learn through recognizing objects by sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, imitating actions and sounds, relating models, pictures, and photographs to real places and things. They love to pretending and role playing with making models out of clay, blocks, and other materials. Another important way is drawing and painting which is linked with all the other subjects and mostly enjoyed by all year group of children. Through my observation I must say children learn language and literacy by talking with others about personally meaningful experiences, describing objects, events, and relations, having fun with language: listening to stories and poems, making up stories and rhymes. We always engage children in writing in various ways: drawing, scribbling, reading in various ways: reading storybooks, signs and symbols.
PSHE is another important subject. The children learn about neighborhood and expressing choices, plans, and decisions, solving problems encountered in play, taking care of one's own needs, expressing feelings in words, participating in group routines, being sensitive to the feelings, interests, and needs of others. Building relationships with children and adults. Numeracy in an interesting subject for all in our school. It is being taught through comparing and constructing numbers, shapes and time. The children are taught to making the number of things in two sets to determine “more,” “fewer,” “same number” arranging two sets of objects in one-to-one correspondence. Also experiencing and describing positions, directions, and distances in the play space, building. The children are taught through these ways but how do they learn? Since young children readily engage in key experiences, the role of the educators is to create an environment in which these important experiences can occur and then to recognize, support, and build on them when they do. Creating a learning environment is vital as learning take place when the children enjoy the freedom.
I was able to see that proper learning is taking place in the classroom which was shown on the video clip as the teachers engage them on group work, discussions and practical work. The teachers recognized and encouraged children's intentions, reflections, problem solving, and creativity. They also formed partnerships with children and put themselves on children's physical level. They Followed children's ideas and interests, acknowledged children's choices and actions. The creation of the environment was rich with key experiences, and the delivery of appropriate adult support, are critical elements in educating young children could be seen too. Using an interactive smart board to explain and teach the subject was very good. The children were fully engaged on teachers' instruction and interactions. The best point is the teachers did not have to deal with any behavioural issues as the children were engaged on an interesting activity. Those children were well disciplined and following the instructions very well. Learning settings are attracted by the wide range of materials that are available to children. Teachers provide such a variety of materials to assure that there are plentiful opportunities for children to make choices and manipulate materials so it will be easier for them to make the learners focus on the activities. Finally what I can say is if the children fully engaged on task according to their learning style which would enable us to incorporate aspects of cognitive learning theory into your classroom practice, there will be no need of behavioral approach to learning.
ACTIVITY 4: Piaget: assimilation and accommodation
Describe your own example of a recent personal experience that involved both accommodation and assimilation. Explain in what sense this experience involved ‘constructivist learning', as outlined in Activity 3 above. Are there any aspects of the experience which could be more successfully explained in terms of behaviourism?
ACTIVITY 5: Piaget's genetic epistemology
Write about ways in which pupils' learning in this TV programme illustrates Piaget's constructivist principles. To what extent would you want to encourage pupils to learn in this way in your own classroom?
A teacher should not have the notion that she knows everything. In the TV programme the teacher becomes a partner in learning and encourages children to find their own answers instead of providing the answers for them. By being a partner, teachers learn with the children and share in their experiences. The teachers believe in children learning independently and learning on their own through liberty and freedom. The teachers support learning by providing activities and materials that children find engaging.The children look fresh, active; they are in a spacious classroom with resources around. By facilitating learning, supplying a developmentally appropriate environment, interesting materials and adequate time to explore, play, and interact, learning takes place automatically and children find learning easy and fun. The children are grouped according to their ability as mentioned in Piaget's theory. Piaget sees traditional way of teaching does not improve the intellectual ability of the children. In this classroom teachers mostly conduct circle time which promotes student teacher talk and interaction between peers that help the children to improve their socializing skills. Further they are allowed to use the classroom resources freely which promotes independent learning. During circle time the children are nurtured which encompasses all aspects of development: social, emotional, cognitive, and physical. Teachers take care to listen to a child including interpreting words and actions. Listening carefully helps teachers determine a child's needs and desires in furthering the child's development. Teachers communicate with all the children throughout the lesson. Teaching is full of many responsibilities, roles, and challenges. Like most worthwhile endeavors, it brings both challenges and rewards.
Piaget considered the youngest, pre-verbal children to be at the "sensory-motor" stage, during which the child's knowledge of the world is gained entirely through its own actions - and it is this that provides the roots of logic. The children, during science lesson were engaged in a practical activity and they were asked to experiment how to light a bulb using a circuit. Each and every child is working on it and interacting with the teachers about their findings. According to Piaget, engaging children on work on their own will help them to gain the roots of logic and Watching, thinking, touching - all the familiar behaviour of children as they try to get to grips with the world that surrounds them.
In the TV programme, the children in the classroom are very well behaved and following the teacher instructions accurately which enable the teachers to reach their targets. They are given not just paper work but to think and work out. If I compare this situation with a year one classroom in my school, I must say it will be a bit difficult to have such a peaceful learning environment there. It is because, first of all not all children understand the English language and most of the others are facing culture shock as they come from other schools where the learning environment is entirely different from ours. Implementing tough, rigid behaviour policies may help a teacher to have the classroom under control but if the children do not understand English, and then it will be difficult for a teacher to construct a possible learning environment. In a year one classroom, learning takes place gradually as our teachers face lot of issues related to the language and culture. As the children move on the next class to a certain extent they are controllable and well behaved as they become familiar with our school rules and regulations. So it becomes easy for the teacher to engage them in group activities and discussions. When the children are able understand the language it will be easy for the educators to implement the behaviour policies too. Having circle time regularly, group work and independent learning are the key points I would like to highlight here.
ACTIVITY 6: Piaget's theory of stages
Without mentioning their real names, write about two children whom you teach who seem to fall into any of these particular stages. Explain the ways in which their thinking is typical of the stage. You might use evidence from their writing or talk, either inside or outside the classroom.
ACTIVITY 7: Criticisms of Piaget
In the final paragraph of the chapter, Donaldson says that “pre-school children are not nearly so limited in their ability to ‘decentre', or appreciate someone else's point of view, as Piaget has for many years maintained”. Explain the evidence which she gives to support this statement. What do you think of it?
Unit 4: Vygotsky
ACTIVITY 1: Vygotsky's central ideas
Choose two of the quotations which make most sense to you in terms of your experience as a teacher. In each case, write about the reasons why you think that they are important and give examples from your own classroom.
Vygotsky is one of the first psychologists to encourage social educational learning. Which means that students working together to help each other learn, which is also known as scaffolding. Scaffolding is a form of learning that students help and assist other students to learn, which is easier for the students to learn from another than a teacher at times. By scaffolding educators and students create a bridge between a learner's existing knowledge and skills. Providing instructions and helping the context of the learner's activity, educators provide a structure to support the learner'sproblem solving situations. Learners are guided by the educators and their participation ensures that they play an active role in learning and that they contribute to the successful solution of problems. Effective guidance involves the transfer of responsibility from teachers to learner. Vygotsky believed that true education is not learning of specific knowledge and skills. It is the development of children's learning abilities that is, their ability to think clearly and creatively, plan and implement their plans, and communicate their understanding in a variety of ways. As human use tools like knives and guns to extend their physical abilities, the learners should be given books, maps, numbers, charts, models, plans, CDs, computers, and many more.
Vygotsky believed that the role of the teacher in education is crucial. As we all know in developing children's abilities, teachers can guide them towards performing actions or tasks which are just beyond their current capacity. With such guidance, children can perform beyond their own ability within certain limits. Educators must first of all identify learners learning style and their intelligences and should cater according to these needs. If we talk about a child in a particular classroom, he is being assisted or guided by his teacher to read, write, play, sing, draw etc. Basically he is supported by his teacher to improve his intellectual abilities. When he is involved in behavioural issues, he is being counselled by the Social Worker. During P.E lesson he learns to have a good sportsman ship. When children are involved in this activity, children's concentration and application to the task are much greater than in academically-directed activities contrived by the teacher. He develops his inter personal, intra personal skills too. The people like head of the school, teachers, special subject teachers, school nurse, social worker, school guard and librarian play an important role in involving a child in learning. It is not only these people but also the thinkers like Gardener, Skinner, Vygotsky and many more who changed teaching and presented a lot of theories in the favour of children. As Vygotsky said, 'It is through others that we become ourselves'.
The development of children's abilities will lead to cherish their personalities. With help and proper guidance they begin to plan and organise their own activities, openly express their point of view, provide solutions for problems, interact freely with other people around and, most importantly, believe in themselves and their own abilities. If the children are motivated to work to the best, as Vygotsky says 'What a child can do in co-operation today, he can do alone tomorrow'.
“What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country,” (President Barack Obama)
As Barack Obama says, a country's future is decided by the good education a school could provide. The importance of education is quite clear. Education is the knowledge of putting one's potentials to maximum use. One can safely say that a human being is not in the proper sense till he is educated. Based on this point of view the policies are constructed to serve the children in the school where I work. The children who come to our school as I mentioned earlier, do not speak good English and exhibit different sort of behaviour in classroom but, still our motto is to shape and mould good citizens for the country. We construct plans to cater the individual needs of each child in the classroom. Two years before when I was a teacher a boy joined my class with lot of behaviour problems and less spoken knowledge of English. At first I thought, this child's level is zero in everything, also I had a problem in communicating with him as he did not speak English but I was able to notice that he was a very good athlete though he involved himself in disputes while playing. The days passed, he came to school regularly, sat with other boys during circle time, took part in group activities, was sent to the Social Worker at times and forced to learn good behaviour. The activities which were conducted in my classroom were based on the ability of the children so this boy was able to learn at least an alphabet a day and the language form the teachers and peers. Nowadays he is studying in grade four, I had a chance to test his ability after two years. Surprisingly this boy is one of the best in that classroom, according to his class teacher he can interact with children in English very well, can read, write independently and plays with good sportsman ship during PE lesson. I must say there are many people behind him who put in lot of hard work to improve this child's abilities. When we talk about a child's learning, we always say that he must move on to the other class so we prepare him for his future.
ACTIVITY 2: Egocentric Speech
Using any of the material in this section, identify what you think are the six most important differences between Vygotsky and Piaget on the question of the relationship between language and thought. Then explain whose view you prefer and why. (It may be that you can see strengths in both positions).
Cognition is the process involved in thinking and mental activity, such as attention, memory and solving problems. Both Piaget and Vygotsky have analyzed the cognitive developments in children clearly through careful studies.
Both Piaget and Vygotsky agreed that children's cognitive development took place in stages. (Jarvis, Chandler 2001 P.149).
However, they were differentiated by different styles of thinking. Piaget was the first to say that children reason and think differently at different periods in their lives. He also said that all children progress through four different stages of cognitive development.
This theory is known as Piaget's Stage Theory because it deals with four stages of development, which are sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational. (Wikipedia)
Sensory motor occur from birth to age two in children. That is the time an infant child basically deals with what is presented to him. They learn about physical objects by playing, chewing, touching, listening, seeing and smelling and are concerned with motor skills and the consequences of some of their actions.
The preoperational occurs from two to seven years. In this stage it becomes possible to carry on a conversation with a child and they also learn to count and use the concept of numbers.
In this stage children are preoccupied with verbal skills and try to make sense of the world but have a much less mode of thought than adults. One problem, which identifies children in this stage, is the inability to cognitively conserve relevant spatialinformation.
During the Concrete Operational stage from ages seven to ten, children of this age group are in school and they begin to deal with abstract concepts such as numbers, relationships and how to reason. They are able to group certain things into categories, and put objects into size order, number order, and any other types of ordering. My ten year old son is able to use his logic, is capable of reversibility and conservation. He is now beginning to understand other people's perspectives and points of views and capable of concentrating on more than one thing at a time.
In the formal operational stage occurs between age twelve to fifteen, the child has become more adult-like in their thought structures and processes. They understand meanings without the need for physical objects or images. In other words, they can imagine things that do not exist or that they have never experienced.
Through my readings I understood that ‘Vygotsky a Russian psychologist and philosopher in the 1930's, came into three general claims; Culture - which is that higher mental functioning in the individual emerged out of social processes. Secondly Language which human social and psychological processes are fundamentally shaped by cultural tools. Lastly the developmental method Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) which is the concept that the potential of the child is limited to a
Specific time span'. (Jarvis, Chandler 2001 P.149-150).
“Vygotsky believed that the history of the child and the history of the child's culture needed to be understood because it overrides the cognitive scheme process that Piaget described. (www.Teachers info site). Piaget believed that the sequence of how children experience the stages was universal, but acknowledged the rate at which each child moved through these stages was flexible and relative upon factors such as maturity, social influences, and other factors. Because of the difference in the skills needed for each level, Piaget believed that children should not be forced into learning”. (http://www.echeat.com/essay.php?t=26240).
According to this we can say that Piaget believing that cognitive changes precede linguistic advances, unlike Vygotsky who proposed that language allowed the child a far greater freedom of thought and lead to further cognitive development.
Piaget believed in the development of thinking and that language moved from individual too social. However, Vygotsky believed that language moved from the social to the individual.
For Vygotsky speech moved from social speech (communicative) to inner egocentric speech. He believed that children began by voicing a personal dialogue and then moved to social speech. In contrast, Piaget claimed that egocentric Speech was simply an accompaniment to a child's actions.
Vygotsky did not believe it was possible for a child to learn and to grow individually and the culture and the environment around the child played a big part in their Cognitive Development. In contrast, Piaget maintained that children were naturally inquisitive about their own abilities and about their environment.
Piaget believed that a child was only possible of learning the processes in each stage at any time and overlooked the role of the child's activity with relation to thought processes. For Piaget, children construct knowledge through their actions on the world. By contrast, Vygotsky's stages, unlike Piaget's, were that of a smooth and gradual process.
For Vygotsky the cultural and social aspects took on a special importance which is much less symmetrical than Piagets theories.
Vygotsky believed that characteristics did not cease at a certain point as Piaget did. Vygotsky also disagreed with Piaget's assumption that development could not be impeded or accelerated through instruction.
Vygotsky believed that intellectual development was continually evolving without an end point and not completed in stages as Piaget theorised. Piaget's stages only approach up to, and end with, approximately age fifteen.
Here, both Piaget and Vygotsky tried to present their arguments on cognitive development of children.
ACTIVITY 3: The zone of proximal development (ZPD)
Write an account of a lesson which you have taught recently and discuss the extent to which different children were operating in the zone of proximal development. Use Vygotskian terminology to support your analysis. How helpful do you think that the ZPD is as a conceptual tool for teachers?
Vygotsky explains that children “develop deliberate control over everyday concepts through contact with scientific concepts.” Within the Vygotskian concept of zone of proximal development, social interaction with others is the basis for cognitive growth. Similarly the communication in a social setting with more knowledgeable or proficient people (parents, teachers, teacher assistants, librarians, peers, others) assists children in building an understanding of the concept. Vygotsky suggests that instead of assessing what a student knows to determine his or her intelligence, it is more helpful to compare their ability to independently solve problems with their ability to solve problems with the assistance of someone. When I was working as a teacher in my classroom setting, I was responsible for structuring interactions and developing instruction in small steps based on tasks the learner is already capable of performing independently. I used a lot of famous stories for an example The Three Billy goats Gruff, The Little Red Riding Hood and many more and I asked the students to discuss and write an apologising letter to the three goats as the troll was writing. During Maths, to give them the concept of money, addition, subtraction and measurement I arranged many activities like bake sale, all most new shop to encourage buying and selling, water games, activities in kitchen and more. By involving them in group discussion the children develop social interaction skills which are the basis for cognitive growth.
In a classroom setting, the teacher is responsible for structuring interactions and developing instruction in small steps based on tasks the learner is already capable of performing independently is called scaffolding. Scaffolding is an instructional technique, associated with thezone of proximal development, in which a teacher provides individualized support by incrementally improving a learner's ability to build on prior knowledge. Scaffolding can be used in a variety of content areas and across age and grade levels. In order for teachers to guide and support learners through the tasks associated with learning a concept, they must “understand how cognitive tasks fit into the child's cultural activities. These tasks are called “scaffolds” which are tasks or levels on which the teacher builds to develop learners' zones of potential development. When using scaffolding as an instructional technique, the teacher provides tasks that enable the learner to build on his or her prior knowledge and internalize new concepts.
With in the classroom, the person who is more knowledgeable is not always the teacher; students can also be placed in collaborative groups with others who have demonstrated mastery of tasks and concepts. During English lesson when I asked my students to write a letter to the Billy Goats Gruff, I put them as mixed ability group so as the able children could help the weaker ones. Some children were able to write with proper sentence structure, some had the concept of what to write but, due to poor linguistic knowledge they made of a lot of spelling mistakes in their writing. Some were unable to write at all but they pictures of roses and chocolates and said that they want to send them for apology. All these children were seven years old but their ability of writing independently were different from person to person. The children who made spelling mistakes were assisted by my assistant to write correctly and the ones who were unable to write were assisted by me to understand the concept. Vygotsky describes the teacher's role as assisting students in the recognition of decontextualized, systematic concepts. Vygotsky contends, “instruction cannot be identified as development, but properly organized instruction will result in the child's intellectual development, will bring into being an entire series of such developmental processes, which were not at all possible without instruction.”
The children were assisted in my class according to their learning needs and they learn fast by getting individual assistance. During another English lesson when I asked them to write a story as Little Red Riding Hood meets The Billy Goats Gruff, most of the boys in my class were able to write in proper sentences and there were few who required help with their spellings for which they took help from the word wall to. From this I can say as Vygotsky argues, it was possible for a child to learn and to grow individually and the culture and the environment around the child played a big part in their Cognitive Development. Accordingly, the teaching methodology that aligns with the zone of proximal development as Vygotsky says, “integrates several approaches to form a comprehensive agenda for research of the genesis, development, function, and structure of the human psyche”.
In my school 98 % of the children are native Arabic speakers and the curriculum we have is for native English speakers. When people asked us how we teach these children who do not speak good English we have always told them that our motto is to motivate or enlist the child's interest related to the task, simplify the task to make it more manageable and achievable for a child, provide some direction in order to help the child focus on achieving the goal, clearly indicate differences between the child's work and the standard or desired solution and model and clearly define the expectations of the activity to be performed. Now I understand that this is called scaffolding.
Learning is a complex process that develops through stages. It builds on innate abilities that are inherited and genetically coded at birth which is called as in born talent. Very few of us learn anywhere near our maximum capacity as established by our innate skills. This is why both study and practice rewards most people with progress in learning and performance. The flow of our learning development progresses through the stages of sensory and motor skills, cognitive abilities. As we all know a person's innate abilities are at the foundation of the learning process. These represent the genetically determined abilities and limitations we possess at birth that we inherited from our parents which are involved in cognitive development of a child. Strong cognitive skills are the key to strong academic performance and success. Without them in place, it is impossible for an individual withlearning or reading problemsto perform to their potential.
ACTIVITY 4: Neo-Vygotskian pedagogy
How could Vygotskian theory support the development of learning in your own classroom? How relevant are any of his ideas to learning in your own subject area?
ACTIVITY 5: Scaffolding
Write an account of one of your own lessons in which you scaffold learning in some way. (If you have access to a tape recorder, you could record the lesson and make a transcription of some of the key moments but this is not compulsory). Use Wood's theory of contingent teaching to explain how you managed the scaffolding.
“The zone of proximal development is the distance between what children can do by themselves and the next learning that they can be helped to achieve with competent assistance” (Raymond, 2000, p.176).
The only thing of which I am sad to say that I have attended many workshop and I knew in outline the theories of Piaget, Skinner and others, popular at that time, but I did not learn how to apply or make use of these theories in my own practice. Thanks to PGCE program which introduced all these theories and made me go in to them deeply to have a complete understanding about teaching and learning.
Here I met Vygotsky's zone of proximal development and involving scaffolding, and began to realise that I was developing my own ways of learning and an understanding of how children learn. I was already using a form of scaffolding but, not knowing that it was scaffolding and this continues today in that I dislike limiting children by predetermining by worksheet the level they may achieve.
When I was teaching grade two children, I also felt it was important to make learning skills explicit as well as the content learning objectives for lessons, so the children were aware that I was looking for skills such as co-operation or perseverance, depending on the task. For me, involving the pupils in group discussions, group work and problem solving skills were very important. Thankfully I had a full time learning assistant in my class and she was given a group of children to handle.
“the nature of the tutorial process: the means whereby an adult or “expert” helps somebody who is less adult or less expert” (Wood et al., 1976, p.90).
He describes that the process that enables a child to solve a problem, carry out a task or achieve a goal which would be beyond their unassisted efforts as a kind of scaffolding. Further, he explains when using scaffolding as an instructional technique, the teacher provides tasks that enable the learners to build on prior knowledge and internalize new concepts.
Before we began the lesson we always had a warming up session which helped us to know the prior knowledge of the each child about the subject in the class. During our Library Week we were preparing the children for a play which they really enjoyed particularly when it involved an opportunity to perform. The first couple of days were given to them for reading, analysing structure and performing plays that we wrote through class discussions. In this way I was able to present myself as a model writer involved in the unit beyond teaching, thus enforcing the idea of adult as co-learner. The children who were unable to construct sentences properly were helped by the assistant and the poor language speakers were involved in making masks for the play. This gave them a very good opportunity to learn the colour words and the name of the tools we used to make the masks along with that they learned the action words like ‘cutting', ‘painting' and so on.
As wood says scaffolding is ‘reducing the number of steps involved in a task by simplifying the task'. If I wanted I could have written the dialogues and made the masks for the play but involving the children on these were largely skill orientated; dictated by the children, rather than content led by the teacher it was lead by the students. I was able to see the students were learning with the help of the adults, through discussions, and from the peers too. During writing I became a convenient dictionary, audience and co-performer, the children were inviting me to become part of their creativity. There was a very real sense of being a fellow learner, although one with greater experience. The children appreciated when i asked them to choose the role for each on their own.
Another form of scaffolding is maintaining the pursuit of the goal and helping the learners to risk a next step noting inconsistencies between what the child had produced and the ideal situation; When I asked them to role play they tried to speak out the dialogues on their own; though they made few mistakes, later they were able to say with full confidence. The boys really enjoyed this activity since each and every member of the group were involved in it and it was an easy task for them as it was simplified to their level of understanding. As wood says, controlling frustration and risk during the problem solving activity but, without creating too much dependency upon the tutor.
At the end of this play I congratulated them on how they had worked; their co-operation, enthusiasm, dedication and creativity and asked them why they thought they had responded like this. Their response was that it had been better than 'normal' lessons because they could choose what to do and the work came from them, rather than being imposed by me. We then discussed how to keep that learning spirit alive, they said they want to use the Interactive Smart Board and computers to type out the dialogues and link the photographs which we took during play for each dialogue.
The most overwhelming response was how involved they were in what they were doing the emotional engagement with the task, the sense of ownership they had. They did not even realize that I was taking photographs during play and surprised to when I showed them. I was happy to know that they were demonstrating many of the qualities of good learners because of scaffolding
The research data showed that the nature of scaffolding varied from teacher to teacher. They concluded that: in order to be good at scaffolding teachers must have a precise knowledge of the characteristics and starting point of the learner, together with a thorough knowledge of the field of enquiry‟ (Webster et al., 1996, p.151).