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The concept of school in the indigenous ethnic context is grounded in defining its people in terms of the social context to which they belonged with absolute cognisance of uniqueness of the individual with his or her personality, talents and destiny with the ability to explore and make use of the resources as availed by the environment. It is with such philosophical perceptions that traditional education upheld five curricula objectives. Snelson (1974: 1) reveals that, 'traditional or tribal education had five main components. First, instruction in the history and tradition of the clan and the tribeâ€¦ Second came apprenticeship in practical skillsâ€¦Social obligation and the inclination of good manners, usually taught by the parents, was the third element in a young man's or woman's educationâ€¦Religious teaching centred on the supreme being (God)â€¦the initiation ceremony which followed a concentrated course of instruction.' This suggest that the processes of the systems of education were unifying, holistic, effective, practical and relevant as they reached to and educated the whole person despite being conservative. It was conservative in the sense that the group common good was more important than individual and the protection of the status quo was one way of assuring the group welfare was preserved.
On the contrary, the type of education that was brought by the missionaries was aimed at making Africans learn how to read and write so that the indigenous could easily be converted to Christianity. Thus, the missionaries used the school system as a pinnacle for evangelisation. Education was the means to achieve a religious end. To a greater extent, the advent of missionary's education which characterised mission schooling was an agency of negative and even destructive value system and an outcome for such a system was the oppression and attempted elimination of the indigenous cultures. Their aim was embedded in the ideological misconception of enlightment dominated by Eurocentric beliefs of bringing light and civility to our communities. This was later integrated with colonial education as the methods and aims were built upon and used for the next movement in the evolution of education in Zambia.
The education programs administered by the colonial administrators were aimed at creating a cheap pool of labour force. It indoctrinated the indigenous with complexes which robbed them of their culture and from the need of their social cultural, economic and political environment. However, the positive legacy of colonial education was teaching of common language spoken across the country.
It should be stated at this point however, that since independence in 1964, the relationship between school outcomes and societal expectations has essentially been through workforce development. But given the wide-spread unemployment in the country, more and more citizens have had a feeling that education is failing the nation. Yet, little is said about the fact that society could itself have been failing to make meaningful applications of school knowledge to real life situations. This may further be linked to an education system that is examination oriented in which those who fail are disenfranchised without alternatives for pursuing their individual life goals.
The aforementioned thus suggest that the Zambian education system seeks to prepare its citizenry quality, lifelong education for all which is accessible, inclusive and relevant to individual, national and global needs and value systems.
In its mission for the future, the education system embraces the purposes of education advanced by International Commission on Education for the 21st Century (UNESCO, 1996) which identifies four pillars of learning; Learning to know implying the continuity in acquiring the instruments of understanding and being able to recognise challenges, learning to do and acting with determination; learning to live together and being party to collective responsibility and engaging in constructive partnerships and, learning to be which entails respecting the individuality of human dignity. However, due to the nature of the Zambian culture and what it expects, especially of a young learner in terms of behaviour, actions and intellectual operations, a fifth, learning to become or promoting the personality of human creativity (M.O.E, 1996). Though a good pillar, there is need to re - orient educators at play and primary schools to foster it.
The foregoing pillars of education provision have huge implications on the need for our present and future school systems to uphold democratic ideals and enshrine in the curricula the principles that govern democratic schools to our context. Dewey (1916) in Apple and Beane (2007:7) affirm that, 'If people are to secure and maintain a democratic way of life, they must have opportunities to learn what that way of life means and how it must be led. Our schools and purposes of education for the future founded on the present should foster values that promote human dignity, equity, justice and critical action. All of which suggests the ability to make wise decisions that exercise responsibility, freedom and the power of choice in a democratic society. Holding the balance between the needs and desires of individual and the greater common of the community.
Therefore, given the past, present and future, the purpose of education is to serve as a means of social control that can modify behaviour, equip individuals with skills for independent living and mould creative individuals who will plan to better the future through new inventions, discoveries with a will to initiate social change.
Since the purpose of education is propelled by teaching to realise learning outcomes, the foregoing assertions will depict what learning is and teaching respectively. Learners bring unique knowledge, skills, attitudes, and beliefs to the learning experience especially that learning itself is an active process in which knowledge is constructed from and shaped by experience and personal interpretation of the world.
Glaserfeld (1989) asserts learning as a process which allows a student to experience an environment first-hand, thereby giving the student reliable, trust-worthy knowledge. This entails that learning is a process of constructing meaning and it is how people make sense of their experience in acquiring new, or modifying existing knowledge, behaviours, skills, values or preferences which may involve synthesizing different types of information (http://www.clinical-governance-toolbox.com/definitions)
Learning is reflected in the way learners respond to environmental, social, emotional and physical stimuli, to understand new information. It is therefore, perceived as the way that information is processed and comprehended. It is a process of drawing connections between what is already known or understood in relation to new information. Thus, prior knowledge is important to the learning process. People make connections and draw conclusions based on a sense of what they already know and have experienced.
For learning to occur, considerations of how students learn is a reflective practice for education practitioners especially that one size (style) does not fit all. Effective teachers try to understand how individual children take in and process information. They realize that not all children learn the same way. Learning styles describe the ways in which individual children acquire information, evaluate it, and then examine their findings. (http://www.education.com/reference/article/childrens-learning-styles/) Therefore, education practitioners try to present materials in ways that will interest children and help them to absorb the information. Understanding a child's learning style helps accomplish this as evidenced in the theory of learning a practitioner employs. (Dembo,1984)
It would therefore be important to acknowledge that learners experience learning through avenues of kinaesthetic (meaningful hands-on experience; touching, doing, and moving), visual (seeing) and auditory (hearing) in situations of their environmental existence guided by an experienced educational practitioner of either of the theories of learning.
Likewise, no one theory is particularly "good" or "bad," but there are times and situations when one may be more appropriate than another, depending upon the targeted clientele and topic being covered. Child (1981:94) reports that, "â€¦all the theories put together do not provide us with all the answers. The only course we can justifiably take is a pragmatic one, choosing from among the experimental findings the points of clear relevance to our task."
Learners will learn best by trying to make sense of something out of their own experiences with the teacher acting only as a facilitator for mediating learning. Learning is also experienced through playing.
Social involvement is the main activity through which learning occurs. Social activity and participation begin early on. Parents collaborate with their children and through these interactions children acquire the actions that enable them to become operative participants of society.
Different theories have their own strengths and weaknesses, and continue to evolve. We should not totally discard one just because something new is trendy. For example, behaviourist theories of human learning are not necessary wrong, but rather fail to explain certain phenomenon. Thus, cognitive information processing and cognitive constructivist theories have developed to explain a greater degree of variance. (http://www2.cs.ucy.ac.cy/~nicolast/courses/cs654/lectures/LearningTheories). Behaviourist theories, however, still clarify certain behaviours quite well. Thus, one could utilize the strengths of different approaches when appropriate because various theories describe different, interrelated parts of a more comprehensive learning process.
In view of the above, the writer's personal philosophy and instructional practice is eclectic in nature with a bias towards constructivism because of the nature of the clientele (student teachers) and topics mostly covered with them. The theory thus demands that students do not remain passive in generating knowledge, but active at making meaning, testing out theories, and trying to make sense out of the world and themselves.
In view of the above, learners learn best when they take part in events that are observed to be beneficial in real life and are culturally relevant. Through this novel information is built on the foundation of what is already understood and believed. Thus learning would be experienced through engaging learners in self-regulation activities and being insightful.
Constructivism as a philosophy of learning is founded on the premise that, by reflecting on our experiences, we construct our own understanding of the world we live in. Each of us generates our own "rules" and "mental models," which we use to make sense of our experiences. (http://teachinglearningresources.pbworks.com/w/page). Learning, therefore, is simply the process of adjusting our mental models to accommodate new experiences. (Brooks & Brooks, 1993)
In the field of special education for example, it important to mention that accounting for individual differences, making accommodations and modification as a way of differentiating instruction are a daily reflective practice shared by constructivist. However, when dealing with profound special education need cases, a behaviourist approach lays foundation for constructivism.
Therefore, trying different methods of learning may prevent the children from feeling frustrated and inadequate when they are not able to work up to their potential. Experimenting with different learning styles and environments may improve the child's accomplishments and feelings of achievement.
The aforementioned processes of learning can be conveyed through a critical analysis of the way teaching is perceived and executed by those empowered to do so. The teachers need to provide avenues that demonstrate their charisma of their roles, values and purposes upon which learning is experienced.
Teaching is an on-going process of inquiry in which experiences are shared, discoveries made, relationships enriched, individual abilities identified and programmed for through an array of activities employed to transform intentions and curricular materials into conditions that promote learning. Curzon (2004:22) asserts teaching as, 'a system of activities intended to induce learning, comprising the deliberate and methodical creation and control of those conditions in which learning does occur.'
This suggests that, teaching is a process of implementing desired outcomes through an interpersonal, interactive activity undertaken for the purpose of helping one or more students learn or change the ways in which they can or demonstrate their will of focus. Teaching could thus be viewed as a way of affecting eternity without telling where the influence stops on the part of the teacher.
In view of the above, my instruction of practice is one that culminates in a conversation, an actual change of the way learners experience knowledge which is truth and become independent, practical and later theoretical reasoners. It therefore explains why my teaching style is anchored on unique needs of learners as they perceive information at different rates encompassed in constructivism.
Therefore, the nature of instruction of practice employed in my style of teaching is held accountable for viewing students as capable for generating knowledge which relates to them and the world they live in. I foresee teaching as a personal passion and commitment to invigorating student interest to learn. Rosenberg, Westling & McLeskey (2008:18) reveals that, 'teachers who are excited about what they are doing tend to increase the excitement and interest of their students.'
Therefore, the perception of my instruction of practice for teaching hinges on encouraging students to associate their day to day ways of life to the world experiences as obtained from the areas of study. The provision of hands on experiences fosters a practical outlook of life. In view of such, the philosophy of my instruction of practice values the fact that there is no way to genuine knowledge other than the way of experience. This constructivist approach centres on building learners experience as a way of fostering lifelong learning. The instruction of practice makes a paradigm shift from emphasis on teaching to learning in which students learning experiences are contextualised and individualised. The way of teaching takes into account differentiated instruction. Starko (2003) affirms that differentiated instruction is designed to flex the process of meeting various needs of students within a class.
In view of the above, my instruction of practice pivots on viewing assessment and instruction as inseparable where the teacher modifies content, process and products. The process of assessment helps to identify students' strength and interests as way of gaining insight into their different strategies for learning. The process of concept delivery in my approach is anchored on all children working toward essential goals.
The aforementioned suggests that in order for students to maintain a critical role in their learning, they should be helped to perceive their strength and interests which should later be incorporated in the curriculum. This generates an understanding that there is an opportunity for every learner in the classroom to grow and develop.
This way of my instruction of practice for concept delivery perceives teaching as a course of action for finding solutions to the problems experienced in the classroom through a thorough research where students are provided ample time to arrive at their own understanding of events in the learning process. The need to collaborate with parents and significant others in the process of teaching and learning is a way to maximise the practice of what is learnt. There is value for teachers to mirror on their work more often as a way of improving their community of practice
Therefore teaching as a way of instruction of practice based on students' generation of their own knowledge of learning to creating an enabling environment that supports them in becoming better academicians and problem solvers is what accounts for my perception of teaching. The identification of individual learning abilities demand of teachers to differentiate instruction with an on - going assessment criteria to modify, accommodate and adapt concepts and scenarios to their needs.
My philosophy of teaching
Since education has a purpose of contributing to the ultimate sustainability of our society through helping human beings develop economically, improve their environment and continue searching for truth. The beliefs of what teaching and learning are should transform the way of our community of practice.
I believe that learner - focused education encourages learning that is purposeful and lasting. As a teacher, it is my obligation to identify who my students are, what types of understanding and familiarity they carry to the group, and what they want to accomplish so that I can adapt the curriculum to suit their needs and yet leave sufficient opportunity to provide accommodations for themes that emerge from group innovation. By evaluating where my students are with respect to our shared education ends, I can offer the support they require to build networks amid what they now know and the novel understandings they pursue to generate. I embrace situational founded teaching and other active learning activities because they stimulate intellectual fellowship, amplification, and cooperative problem solving and lay the foundation for life-long concerted practice.
The appreciation of teaching lies in learners contribution to the process of teaching evidenced in their personal interpretation and linkages to what is being taught with the world in which they live. The excitement generated by students to demonstrate learning as an avenue of relating what is generated by them to creating new opportunities for practice invigorates my community of practice. I believe teaching and learning create paths upon which learner and teacher success is evaluated. Hence in my teaching, I strive to generate inquisitiveness in my students that accounts for them to realise the existing learning gap in which they are tasked to bridge the difference. I do this by demonstrating clearly how ideas of truth come into existence. For example, I ask my students to carry out case studies for the pupils identified as having challenges in their school experience and share their personal challenges and successes in the approaches they undertook with other members of their class.
The aforementioned is one strategy to demonstrate that, there is no one way to finding a solution to a particular problem instead solutions are embedded in groups and individual experiences. In my instruction of practice which culminates my philosophy inclined to constructivism, learning is perceived as an inherent process which is divergently experienced by each individual student. Thus, my teaching anchors on respect for individual abilities especially that every student is unique in his or her own accord. This is realised through engaging in dialogue with the students both in the teaching and interaction facilitated by internal assessment of their progress which is paramount as it enables me to predict outcomes, self-evaluate and intervene strategically to raise standards within my community of practice.
I desire all my students to appreciate that their process of learning is the consequence of events that are better prepared to act as a recipe upon which new knowledge is built through dialogue in cooperative learning. The critical role in this process is to facilitate learning, ensuring that this dialogue is conducted in an atmosphere of mutual admiration and acceptance of varied opinions among learners by creating an enabling atmosphere.
As a way to generating new knowledge, my belief is propelled by an assumption that students should know where to source information, evaluate that information and make learned choice founded on their understanding of the concerns encountered through classroom or library based research. This is further capacitated by the use of the institutional Moodle site to foster in the students creative skills for perpetuating new knowledge. This is evident in new topics where the students are asked to search for information, analyse and interpret their assertions through Moodle site forums.
I also believe that active learning brands students to be more accountable for their own education because they become devoted in the learning progression. I would rather have students learn in ways that supplement my instruction of practice if that means they can propagate what they've learned with them for the rest of their lives. Or else, they develop a tendency to learn concepts by rote and then promptly disremember as soon as they turn in a test. Therefore active learning is the vehicle for undertaking my teaching ends.
The aforementioned has demonstrated that I embrace the constructivist approach to teaching and learning. The perceptions of active learning and collaboration are fundamental to my beliefs of education. These are performances I seek to model every day in my interactions with students. As a teacher, I most enjoy teaching in the setting of real-world, encompassing decision-making, self-reflection, and interactive relationships in meaningful situations. I believe in collaboration, not competition among the learners and members of my team.
Therefore, the purpose of education accounts for the desired learning facilitated through the process of teaching to culminate a personal philosophical instruction of practice. The purpose of education lays foundation upon which learning and teaching is directed and experienced as evidenced