Theories and Approaches to Learning
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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.
Ê»Science 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
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