Teaching In Your Particular Curriculum Area Education Essay

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Teaching means considerably more than just instructing students in a particular curriculum area. It is very essential as part of the educational process in the quest to educate students in the nation's school system. As he executes his role in the classroom, the teacher quite naturally, starts off teaching "in" his particular curriculum area of instruction and enquiry and later evolved into teaching through the said area. Teaching "in" adopts a teacher-centred approach to teaching whereby the teacher concentrates predominantly on the content area of his curriculum with no emphasis on the teaching context. Teaching "through" not only recognise the importance of good content but additionally, the teaching context is embraced to cater for the different learning styles of students. The approach is more student-centred with the teacher embracing the philosophy that every child could learn. To evolve is "to undergo gradual change; develop" (www.thefreedictionary.com/evolve) visited on 12/09/12 and evolution is "a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form" (www.the freedictionary.com/evolution) visited on 12/09/12.

This evolution is largely achieved through professional development and embracing of the interconnectedness of knowledge, learning and the different ways of expanding and deepening understanding. The various methods of instructions and enquiry are adjusted as the teacher progresses through this evolutionary process. As Oprah Winfrey once said "the whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be" (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/evolve.html) visited at 10 am on 12/09/12

Undoubtedly, the foundation areas in education can prepare the teacher for this evolution from teaching "in" his curriculum area of instruction and enquiry to teaching "through" this area.

The curriculum, according to Walker and Soltis (2004 p.1) "refers not only to the official list of courses by the school but also the purposes, content, activities and organization of the educational programme created in schools by teachers, students and administrators". "It is a programme of activities designed so that pupils will attain by learning certain specifiable ends or objectives" (Hirst ,1974 p2). Successful delivery of the curriculum is influenced by the teaching strategies employed by the teacher. Teaching "in" the curriculum area of instruction and enquiry is an approach to teaching whereby the teacher focuses on teaching the curriculum material. This has been my experience upon starting my teaching career. My approach was simply to cover all the content of the curriculum area so that my students would have a good chance at passing their final exam. This worked well for some students whilst others failed to make any meaningful progress. I saw myself as the source of knowledge and my presence before the class was predominantly to deliver instructions to the students in line with the curriculum and instructional areas. The approach was predominantly teacher centred learning.

A teacher-centred learning approach meant that the teacher's emphasis would concentrate on transmission of information from himself to the student, a passive recipient. http://www.intime.uni.edu/model/center_of_learning_files/definition.html cited on 04/09/12

The different leaning styles of students are ignored as content supersedes the context of the learning environment. Students were expected to regurgitate instructions handed down to them and those who were unable to respond appropriately were inadvertently. He mistakenly believes that there is congruency between teaching and learning.

However, teaching and learning are not synonymous. According to the new edition of the Concise English Dictionary to "teach" is "to tell or show how; to give instructions or lessons in" on the other hand, to "learn" is "to gain knowledge of or acquire skill in; to become informed; to gain by experience". Thus imparting knowledge by teaching "in" the curriculum area would not guarantee learning would take place but simply the covering of the material outlined in the curriculum area.

The curriculum materials are very essential to the teaching profession (Peretz, 1990,p1). However, student activities are critical if learning is to take place and the teacher's activities are essential in producing this learning which is a key concern of the curriculum (Hirst, 1974, p2). In selecting appropriate curriculum materials and skilfully applying them to the classroom, it will either accommodate or frustrate the teaching efforts of even the most dedicated of teachers (Peretz, 1990 p1). This teacher-centred is consistent with the behaviour of "teaching in the curriculum area". "The use of curriculum materials is an essential part of the professional activities of all teachers. The ways in which teachers handle the curriculum would determine, to a large extent the learning processes in their classroom (Peretz, 1990 ,p23)". Teaching " in" the curriculum tend to stifle students initiatives thus preventing them from achieving their full potential. It connotes a one way transmission of knowledge and an imposition of the curriculum on the student preventing the development of democratic citizenship which is a major function of education in a democratic society (Youngjoo Kim, 2011). Although content is essential as part of the educational experience it is important to embrace the learning context if effective learning is to occur. "Teachers who hold the view that teaching is primarily delivery of a general curriculum fell short of understanding the role of a teacher in the educational system. This approach prevents the students from having a voice in their learning thus minimizing valuable teaching moments" (Youngjoo Kim, 2011).

In recognition of the new challenges which confront him, the teacher would become more aware of the needs of his students and the meaning and purpose of education. He would appreciate that "the child has a right to an education that contributes to the development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential" (Forenga and Ness, 2005, p 368). As he evolves with experience he becomes motivated to seek out new strategies to meet the different needs and learning styles of his students. This adjustment is quite necessary in the process of him becoming a teacher. He embraces new concepts of what it meant to be a teacher and the role he is expected to play in the learning experiences of the students under his care. As a continuous learner the teacher would eventually embrace the contextual environment which would allow his teaching to evolve into teaching through his curriculum area rather than in the area.

Teaching through the curriculum area adopts a student centred approach to learning whereby the teacher uses the curriculum area to develop the students holistically thus preparing them to make positive contributions to the development of their society. This approach to teaching recognises that students learn differently, thus the teacher would adapt his teaching methods to suit the learning styles of his students. The teacher is student centred and sees himself as a humanizing agent responsible for developing and transforming students into full humanness. He passionately believes all students could learn and it is his responsibility to appropriately engage students to ensure learning takes place.

As I gained experience as a teacher I recognized that all students learned differently. Consequently, this caused me to adjust my teaching style in order to meet the learning needs of my students. I paced my lectures, allowed my students to play a more active role in their learning. There I began to see major improvements in the learning from my students. I see myself evolving over the years from teaching in my curriculum area to teaching through the curriculum area.

Instruction and enquiry are critical to curriculum delivery and would vary as the teacher evolved from teaching "in" and to teaching "through". Instruction takes place in the classroom and it is a deliberate guide to the learning process. (Forenga and Ness, 2005 p 532). It varies from direct instruction which is more teacher centred where the teacher teaches "in" the curriculum area to indirect instruction which is student centred as the teacher evolves to teaching " through". Enquiry learning is a direct consequence of evolution from teaching "in" to teaching "through" the curriculum area. "Enquiry learning provides opportunities for students to experience and acquire processes through which they can gather information about the world. This requires a high level of interaction among the learner, the teacher, the area of study, available resources, and the learning environment" (http://olc.spsd.sk.ca/DE/PD/instr/index.html) visited on 9/9/12.

As the teacher adopts an enquiry based approach to learning he would continually seek out opportunities to improve his practice through appropriate training and development programmes which would facilitate his evolution to teaching " through" his curriculum area.

Traditionally, the emphasis in education was on content rather than instruction. Teachers were seen as presenters of knowledge to students who were regarded simply as vessels (Forenga and Ness, 2005 p 532). Through continuous training and development the teacher gradually transformed his teaching to ensure student learning occurs.

We use language to communicate notions, functions, feelings, and attitudes. To acquire communicative competence is to learn when and where to use specific forms to elicit the intended meaning (Nasr,1994).

The use of language in the delivery of the curriculum is very essential and critical to the learning process and in the evolution of teaching "in" to teaching "through" the curriculum area. Language enables the communication process which is essential to effective teaching and learning. The teacher who teaches "in" the curriculum area would concentrate predominantly on delivery of his content area. As he grows in his profession he would understand the importance of language in the delivery of his particular subject area and how it could be aid students learning in the curriculum area. Language is useful in enhancing the discourses undertaken by the teacher in the evolution of teaching "in" to teaching through. As he adjusts his teaching strategies to student centered the methods of engaging his students would be enhanced through appropriate language to pull of appropriate discourses to support learning. (Gee, 2005) defines discourse as the use of language to enact activities and identities. He proposed two major types of discourses, one with a big "D" and the other a little "d".Gee described discourse with a little "d" as language in use which enables individuals to enact activities and identities. Communication of instructions on the content of the curriculum area as the teacher teaches "in" the curriculum area could be regarded as language in use as expounded by Gee (2005). This may not be adequate to enact the relevant activities and identities thus leading to miscommunication on the part of the teacher and lack of learning. Exposure to this foundation area would cause the teacher to pull of big D discourses as he tailors his teaching strategies to meet the needs of the students. "D" (Gee 2005). Language, as an essential tool for all teachers, creates opportunity for the meaningful engagement of students. However, if language is used inappropriately, it could result in miscommunication, thus allowing students to create their own discourse which could be counterproductive. This then creates a negative atmosphere in the classroom and makes it difficult to facilitate student-centred learning. 

An important area of the foundations of education that would aid in this evolutionary process is knowledge of the philosophy of education. Understanding the meaning of concepts taught in schools is critical to the learning process. The "being" aware of the nature and difficulty of jargons in his curriculum area would find an understanding of philosophy would assist him in clarifying meaning which aids in enhancing trust and student motivation (Ham,1989). Understanding the human state of "being" and "becoming" is critical as he evolves from teaching "in" to teaching "through" his curriculum area.

 "Being" and "Becoming" are significant mile-stones which facilitate student-centered learning as part of this evolutionary process. "Being" a teacher limits opportunities for growth and transformation. It is in "becoming" a teacher that one is able to unlock potential in oneself

and the students in order to create more "humanness" in them.  "Being" a teacher is a state of being which suggest that the individual has reached the pinnacle of his career with no room for growth and development. This is counterproductive towards a more desirable position of "becoming" an effective teacher.

The insights in philosophy of education would allow the teacher who teaches 'in" the curriculum area to understand that he is in a state of "being" a teacher. As he reflects upon the meaning and his own philosophy along with relevant training in the field of education he would evolve from the state of "being a teacher" to the desirable state of "becoming a teacher" where teaching "through" the curriculum would occur. This evolution supported by new insights in philosophy cause the teacher to see himself as a humanizing agent. As a humanizing agent he would use the curriculum to enable the humanizing process which is essential in an educational establishment (Haq 1995 pp16-20). The ease by which this is done depends on the prevailing sociological perspective.

Sociology, as part of the foundation areas in education, studies social life and their behavior in relation to the various social systems which makes up society. Since schools are part of this system an understanding of sociology, therefore, would assist the evolving teacher in understanding "the relationships between individuals and institutions and the interdependent roles within social relationships" (Llewellyn, Agu and Mercer, 2008 p.9). The functionalists view society as a system consisting of a set of subsystems called institutions designed to maintain order and consistency. Roles, rules and norms are enforced by these subsystems for the benefit of maintaining equilibrium in the society. Education is perceived as a tool to socialize students into the rules and norms of society as schools act as an integral part of the socialization process. Functionalists believe "schooling serves to reinforce the existing social and political order" (De Marrais and Le Compte, 1999). In this setting teachers act as important agents of social control to ensure students are socialised into the norms and values of society. The function of teachers, therefore, would be to initiate their students into behaviors, skills and knowledge expected by society thus supporting teaching "in" the curriculum area.

The conflict theory views schooling as a form of social class oppression and domination. They see education as maintaining social inequality and the preservation of power of the dominant class in society.  As students challenge the status quo the teacher would be continuously adjust his teaching style to reduce these conflicts and feelings of oppression. By contrast, interactionist believes that social life could best be explained through the relationships of small groups.

As the teacher gains a deeper understanding of the concepts and perspectives in sociology he would be able to "explain social relationships and individual interpretations of social situations" (Llewellyn, Agu and Mercer, 2008 p.9), which is invaluable in understanding the process of induction into the teaching profession thus enabling his evolution from teaching "in" to teaching "through". These different perspectives allow the teacher to continuously revisit his approach to teaching in order to meet the expectations of the different learning styles of his students.

Psychology in education play a critical role in the successful learning outcomes for both students and teacher as it illuminates the different learning styles of students. It is very important that the teacher continue to adjust his teaching style to cater for the individual differences in learning capabilities of his student. Student performance enhances as the teachers learning style moves closer and closer towards their learning style (Dunn, Griggs, Olson, Gorman and Beasley, 1995). Student behavior and thinking are useful information to aid the teacher's evolution from teaching "in" his curriculum area of instruction and enquiry to teaching "through" the area. The Behaviorist models help the teacher to understand what students do and how he can influence what they do (Siefert, 2009). With this knowledge the teacher is able to use his curriculum area to achieve the desired behavior and in so doing he would be evolving into teaching "through" his curriculum area. However, the insights from the constructivist learning model would assist the teacher in having a better understanding of the thinking processes of his students.

"Constructivism perspective in learning focused on how students create knowledge out of experiences" (Siefert, 2009 p.35). A great insight which can assist teacher in this evolution from teaching "in" to teaching "through" is Vygotsky's learning theory. This theory would assist the teacher in using teaching strategies that effectively enriches student thinking. Vygotksy focused much of his research on the Students Zone of Proximal development (ZPD) which meant the place or area of immediate change (Siefert, 2009). The ZPD represents the area of critical importance to the teacher as he engages the student in the learning process. "This is the area where instruction can succeed, because real learning is possible" (Woolfolk, Hughes and Walkup, 2008 p.57). The teacher in recognition of the ZPD can assume the role of a coach in assisting the student in acquiring the necessary skills he intended to pass on to the student. By assuming the role of coach the teacher would be teaching through his curriculum rather than in.

The insights into Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) are critical in this evolutionary process of teaching "in" to teaching "through" the curriculum area. "HFLE is a comprehensive skills-based programme which focuses on the development of the whole, resilient person" (UNICEF). Children are faced with many major challenges and difficulties ranging from violence and drug abuse in their respective communities, HIV and AIDs epidemic, health and environmental problems. "These increasing social pressures are impacting on young persons in ways that make teaching a challenge" (UNICEF). HFLE therefore is a response to deal with these challenges where the teacher is expected to understand the realities of these issues which confront his students and equip himself with the relevant expertise to assist them in becoming better citizens. These issues present teaching moments to transform his teaching into a learner centered approach geared towards assisting the students to cope with these difficult situations and to develop the relevant life skills and to help them lead a healthy, happy and productive life. The themes of HFLE are: self and interpersonal relationships, sexuality and sexual health, eating and fitness and, managing the environment. As the teacher embraces this information his teaching strategies would evolve in order to effect learning in this challenging environment aiding the evolution from teaching "in" to teaching through his curriculum area of instruction In conclusion, it is evident that teachers role in society is to continue to educate shape the minds of human in order that they become better humans. The teacher must be conscious of self and continue to reflect on his role and responsibility. As microcosms of the wider society, schools would always be impacted positively or negatively by changes in the environment. These changes would ultimately affect both students and teachers which would require major adjustments on the part of each player. If learning is to successfully take place it would incumbent on the teacher, the professional, to equip himself with the necessary tools to assist him in this continuous evolution. Like Oprah, the whole point in being alive meant that you can evolve into being the complete person you are. To become the teacher you wish to be it is necessary to continuously transform yourself and expand your knowledge both in your subject area and in the foundations of education. By doing so the teacher would understand the needs of learners and would be able to adjust his teaching style to support learning. Showing keen interest in the growth and development of students and respect them irrespective of their social background the teacher would certainly transform himself into teaching "in" his curriculum area to teaching "through" the curriculum area.

and enquiry.

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