The confusion on perspectives

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Pratt (1998) cautions us about the confusion on perspectives on teaching and methods of teaching. He deliberately guides us away from the old traditional "one size fits all" approach to the improvement or evaluation of teaching. I would like to comment or explain Pratt's different perspectives on teaching.

Difference between perspectives on teaching and methods of teaching:

A perspective on teaching, according to Daniel D. Pratt, is an interrelated set of beliefs and intentions that gives direction and justification to our actions. The question immediately arises: What is your view or how do you see things that are important to you? A perspective on teaching is an interrelated set of beliefs and intentions which relates to the role of the teacher, learning and knowledge. Pratt describes five perspectives on teaching: Transmission, Developmental, Apprenticeship, Nurturing and Social Reform. Fundamentally, it is the lens through which we view teaching and learning. According to Pratt, we may not be aware of our perspectives because it is something we look through, rather than look at, when teaching.

Methods of teaching are often confused with perspectives of teaching and learning. According to Pratt one can see that perspectives are far more than methods. In my opinion I see teaching methods as the actions that are administered to learners in order to carry over information. It is very easy to confuse perspectives on teaching with methods of teaching. Examples of teaching methods can include the following: Demonstrating where the teacher demonstrates to the learners the use of a chisel and mallet; According to Wikipedia, Collaborating is where students work in groups. It allows learners to talk and listen to another; Lecturing where the teacher do all the talking on a specific subject and learners listen; We also get the talk and chalk method where learners are passive listeners and the teacher does all the talking and writing; Explanation, which can be associated with demonstrating and modeling and the new way of teaching, however, is where the teacher acts as a facilitator and just guides the learners.

I would indeed like to agree with Pratt that perspectives on teaching and methods of teaching often confuse the teacher.

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(Student No: 110045983)

Discuss Pratt's explanation of the five different teaching perspectives in terms of:

Pratt uses five teaching perspectives that are neither good nor bad. They are simply different devotions to philosophical orientations to knowledge, learning and to the roles and responsibilities of being a teacher. It is important, therefore, to remember that each of these perspectives represents a legitimate view of good teaching when performed appropriately.

His proposed set of key beliefs

Transmission Perspective: This perspective is the most common orientation to teaching in secondary and higher education but is not commonly used in elementary and adult education. From this concept, effective learning starts with a substantial commitment to the content and subject matter. It is therefore essential for Transmission-orientated teachers to be the master over their content. An Educator who teaches from this perspective holds certain assumptions and views of adults as learners. The knowledge exists outside of the learner, normally within the text or in the teacher therefore, teachers compare or think of the adult learners as empty 'containers' that need to be filled with something and in this case with knowledge. This process of learning is additive. Teachers should take care not to give too much information. They should rather focus their presentations on the internal structure of the content to increase the amount that is learned. With the proper delivery by the teacher, and proper receptivity by the learner, knowledge can be transferred from the teacher to the learner.

Typical Teaching Strategy: With Transmission Perspective learners are expected to learn the content in these authorized or legitimate forms and teachers are expected to take learners systematically through a set of tasks that lead to master the content. Teachers must provide clear objectives and well organized lectures, beginning with the fundamentals, adjust the pace of lecturing, make efficient use of class time,

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clarify misunderstandings, answer questions, correct errors, provide reviews, summarize that has been presented, direct students to appropriate resources, set high standards for achievement and develop objective means of assessing what was learnt. Transmission teachers spend a lot of time in preparation, assuring that they master the content to be presented. They also specify that learners should learn and take care to see that resources and assignments are in line with their objectives. The goal with this pass on to the learners a specific body of knowledge or skill as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The feedback to learners is directed at errors and pointing out where learners can improve their performances. The assessment of learning is usually a matter of locating learners with a hierarchy of knowledge, or skilled to be learnt. Teachers that follow this perspective find it very difficult to work with people that do not understand the logic of the content. This causes difficulty to find out where and why learners are likely to struggle with the content. Pratt says that many teachers that he and his colleagues studied, had difficulty thinking of examples or problems from 'the real world' outside the classroom. When these teachers are challenged by learners, they often returned to the content as a means of dealing with those challenges. By their observation they also observed that transmission teachers spend too much talking. It seemed to them that many of these teachers use learner responses or questions as an opportunity to talk. These teachers are primarily focused on the content than the learners.

The transmission orientations to teaching, provide some of the most common negative examples of teaching. For many of us, there are also positive memories of teachers in our past that were passionate about the content, animated in his or her delivery, and determined that we go away with respect and enthusiasm for their subject.

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(Student No: 110045983)

1.2.1 Developmental Perspective: From a Developmental Perspective, the primary goal of education or training is to develop increasingly complex and sophisticated ways of reasoning and problem solving within a content area or field of practice. From this perspective teachers need to know how their learners are 'programmed' that is, how they think and what they believe in relation to the content of work. With that in mind, teachers try to build bridges from the learner's way of thinking to better, more complex and sophisticated ways of thinking and reasoning. With this strategy, learning brings about one of two kinds of change inside the brain: Firstly, when a new experience fits with what someone already knows, it builds a stronger and more elaborate pathway to that knowledge. Secondly, if a new experience or new content does not fit the learner, the learner's current way of knowing, he must either change the old way of knowing or reject the new knowledge or experience. The goal is to change the way learners think, rather than increase their store of knowledge.

Behind this view lies a constructivist principle that learners use what they already know to filter and interpret new information. This means that learners construct their understanding rather than reproduce the teacher's understanding. To make sense of the world by relating it to what one already knows, has implications for teaching.

1.2.2 Typical Teaching Strategy: Once this is accomplished, Development teachers employ two common strategies: Firstly, the judicious use of effective questioning that challenges learners to move from relatively simple to more complex forms of thinking. Secondly, use examples that are meaningful to learners. Developmental teachers adapt their knowledge to learner's way of understanding. It is not easy to teach from this perspective. Teachers trying to change from a transmission to a developmental orientation, will attest to this. Asking good questions, the kind that requires time to think, and reason before answering, is not easy.

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This method of where one ask the question, and waiting while learners think and voice their thoughts, takes patience. It is difficult to refrain from telling learners, rather than letting them figure it out for themselves, especially when we know the answer. It is so important that teachers genuinely value learner's prior knowledge and understand how they think about the content before presenting new material.

According to Pratt, they experienced in their studies that teachers at all levels of education adopting this perspective of teaching. It is the new orthodoxy. It is also the basis for much more of the progressive movements of problem and cased-based learning in the profession.

1.2.1 An Apprenticeship Perspective: This view of teaching may be familiar to many, especially those who have gone through an apprenticeship or internship. From this perspective, learning is facilitated when people work on authentic tasks in real settings when practiced. From this perspective learning is more than the building of cognitive structures or the development of skilled competence. It is also the transformation of the learner's identity that occurs as they adopt the language, values and practices of a specific social group. As new members come into the community, the community undergoes changes that engage in appropriate roles, responsibilities and relationships. The three central tenets of this view are that learning is a process of enculturation; knowledge is socially constructed through participation in a social group; and the product of learning is of two kinds namely: competence and social identity.

1.2.2 Typical Teaching Strategy: One of the principle strategies by which they do this is to break the performance or work into tasks and sequences that progress from simple and marginal, to complex and central to the work of the community. This strategy is called 'scaffolding' of learning. Learning here is a matter of developing competence and identity in relation to other members of a community of practice. It is the teacher's responsibility to see that the learners work on tasks that are meaningful and relevant to

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the community of practice. Teachers have a responsibility towards learners by finding their learners' 'zone of proximal development', to determine what learners can do on their own and what they can do with guidance and direction.

1.2.1 Nurturing Perspective: Teachers from this perspective believe that persistence, hard work and long-term efforts to achieve, come from heart and not the head. Achievement is thus a product of the learner's own effort and ability rather than the benevolence of a teacher. Their efforts will be supported by the teacher and their peers. The primary responsibility of Nurturing teachers is to find a balance between caring and challenging. They thus promote a climate of caring and trust, helping people set reasonable but challenging goals, and supporting effort and achievement. Above all else, these teachers are careful not to sacrifice self-efficacy in favor of academic achievement.

1.2.2 Typical Teaching Strategy: A typical strategy of this perspective is for teachers to know their learners. They need to consistently listen and respond to emotional as well as intellectual needs and work with permeable role boundaries, for example, teaching versus counseling. Nurturing teachers provide a great deal of encouragement and support, along with clear expectation and reasonable goals for each learner. They are helped to prepare, usually in small approximations that are both challenging and achievable. The Nurturing teacher's over-riding goal is to help their students to feel good about achievements and to believe in themselves.

1.2.1 Social Reform Perspective: This is the most difficult perspective to describe because it has no single uniform characteristics or set of strategies. Social Reform teachers have much in common with other effective teachers. They are clear and organized in their delivery of content. These teachers work toward a particular set of ideals. Social Reform teachers seek not just to interpret the world, but to change it in ways that corresponds to their ideals. They make three assumptions: First, that their ideals are necessary for a better society; second, that their ideals are appropriate for all and third, that their

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ultimate goal of teaching is to bring about social change and not simply individual learning. Social Reform teachers are unequivocal and clear about what changes are desired and necessary.

Typical Teaching Strategy: Social Reform teachers encourage students to consider the ways in which they are positioned and constructed in particular discourses of practice. Common practices are examined by for their implicit values and the ways in which those practices reproduce and maintain untenable conditions. Texts and practices are interrogated for what is said, what is not said, what is include and what is excluded, and who is represented and who is not represented in the discourse of practice. Classroom discussions is centered not on only knowledge or how knowledge has been created, but by whom and for what purposes.

In conclusion according to Pratt, perspectives are neither good nor bad. They are simply philosophical orientations to knowledge, learning and the role and responsibility of a teacher. Each of these perspectives holds the potential for poor teaching.

Critically analyse Pratt's five teaching perspectives against the rationale for South Africa's declared policy of Outcomes-based Education (OBE)

Transmission Perspective:

From this perspective, effective learning starts with a substantial commitment to the content and subject matter. The knowledge exists outside of the learner, normally within the text or in the teacher therefore, teachers compare or think of the adult learners as empty 'containers' that need to be filled with something and in this case with knowledge. This process of learning is additive. Teachers should take care not to give too much information. They should rather focus their presentations on the internal structure of the content to increase the amount that is learned. With the

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proper delivery by the teacher, and proper receptivity by the learner, knowledge can be transferred from the teacher to the learner.

OBE focuses on the desired end results of each learning process or outcomes. Learners need to demonstrate that they have attained the specific outcomes for each learning area. The focus is on the instructive and learning processes that will guide the learners to these results which lead to more success. Educators are required to use the learning outcomes as a focus when they make instructional decisions and plan their lessons. Individual learners must be allowed to learn in their full potential and to progress at their own pace. In OBE all stakeholders in education, which includes the learner, the teacher, the parent and the community are responsible for learning.

Developmental Perspective:

Behind this view lies a constructivist tenet that learners use what they already know to filter and interpret new information. From a Developmental Perspective, the primary goal of education or training is to develop increasingly complex and sophisticated ways of reasoning and problem solving within a content area or field of practice. From this perspective teachers need to know how their learners are 'programmed' that is, how they think and what they believe in relation to the content of work. With that in mind, teachers try to build bridges from the learner's way of thinking to better, more complex and sophisticated ways of thinking and reasoning. The goal is to change the way learners think, rather than increase their store of knowledge.

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OBE focuses on the desired end results of each learning process or outcomes. Learners need to demonstrate that they have attained the specific outcomes for each learning area. The focus is on the instructive and learning processes that will guide the learners to these results which lead to more success. Educators are required to use the learning outcomes as a focus when they make instructional decisions and plan their lessons. Individual learners must be allowed to learn in their full potential and to progress at their own pace. In OBE all stakeholders in education, which includes the learner, the teacher, the parent and the community are responsible for learning.

An Apprenticeship Perspective:

From this perspective learning is more than the building of cognitive structures or the development of skilled competence. It is also the transformation of the learner's identity that occurs as they adopt the language, values and practices of a specific social group. As new members come into the community, the community undergoes changes that engage in appropriate roles, responsibilities and relationships. The three central tenets of this view are that learning is a process of enculturation; knowledge is socially constructed through participation in a social group; and the product of learning is of two kinds namely: competence and social identity.

OBE focuses on the desired end results of each learning process or outcomes. Learners need to demonstrate that they have attained the specific outcomes for each learning area. The focus is on the instructive and learning processes that will guide the learners to these results which lead to more success. Educators are required to use the learning outcomes as a focus when they make instructional decisions and plan their lessons. Individual learners must be allowed to learn in their full potential and to progress at their own pace.

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In OBE all stakeholders in education, which includes the learner, the teacher, the parent and the community are responsible for learning.

Nurturing Perspective:

Achievement is thus a product of the learner's own effort and ability rather than the benevolence of a teacher. Their efforts will be supported by the teacher and their peers. The primary responsibility of Nurturing teachers is to find a balance between caring and challenging. They thus promote a climate of caring and trust, helping people set reasonable but challenging goals, and supporting effort and achievement. Above all else, these teachers are careful not to sacrifice self-efficacy in favor of academic achievement.

OBE focuses on the desired end results of each learning process or outcomes. Learners need to demonstrate that they have attained the specific outcomes for each learning area. The focus is on the instructive and learning processes that will guide the learners to these results which lead to more success. Educators are required to use the learning outcomes as a focus when they make instructional decisions and plan their lessons. Individual learners must be allowed to learn in their full potential and to progress at their own pace. In OBE all stakeholders in education, which includes the learner, the teacher, the parent and the community are responsible for learning.

Social Reform Perspective:

Social Reform teachers have much in common with other effective teachers. They are clear and organized in their delivery of content. These teachers work toward a particular set of ideals. Social Reform teachers seek not just to interpret the world, but to change it in ways that corresponds to their ideals. They make three assumptions: First, that their ideals are necessary for a better society; second, that their ideals are appropriate for all and third, that their ultimate goal of teaching is

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to bring about social change and not simply individual learning. Social Reform teachers are unequivocal and clear about what changes are desired and necessary.

OBE focuses on the desired end results of each learning process or outcomes. Learners need to demonstrate that they have attained the specific outcomes for each learning area. The focus is on the instructive and learning processes that will guide the learners to these results which lead to more success. Educators are required to use the learning outcomes as a focus when they make instructional decisions and plan their lessons. Individual learners must be allowed to learn in their full potential and to progress at their own pace. In OBE all stakeholders in education, which includes the learner, the teacher, the parent and the community are responsible for learning.

Conclusion: There are definite similarities and differences between Pratt's five perspectives and the South Africa's declared policy of Outcomes-based Education, for example: In the transmission perspective the commitment is to the content or subject matter where as in the OBE the focus is on the desired end results or outcomes. The apprenticeship perspective can be seen as similarity of OBE. Learners need to demonstrate that they have attained the outcomes in the classroom or in the community of practice.

Outcomes-based Education focuses on the end results of each learning process and perspectives are simply philosophical orientations to knowledge, learning and the role and responsibility of being a teacher.

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Source List

Steyn H.J., Steyn S.C. & De Waal, E.A.S. 2001. The South- African Education System, Noordbrug, Keurkopie.

De Jager, Anette, 2002. An intergrated and holistic approach to assessment in outcome-based learning in South Africa.

Jansen, Jonathan & Christie Pam, 1999. Changing Curriculum (Studies on Outcomes-based Education in South Africa), Cape Town, Juta Co Ltd.

Van der Horst & McDonald, Ria. 1997 OBE-Outcomes Based Education. Pretoria, Kagiso, Publishers.

Fakier, M & Waghid, Y. 2004. Journal of Special Education. Vol 19.(2)

http://informationr.net/ir/9-1/paper165.html. Date of Acces: 23 January 2010.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teaching_method. Date of Access: 22January 2010.

Open Learning, Educator Academy, North-West University, 2010. Tutorial notes 2010 for the student doing the HonsBed in Education.

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