Category Archives: 1.2 Integrity

One, 2, Three, 4, Five

Throughout Secondary school I had varying experiences of Maths which I believe has been the major factor in influencing my opinions on the topic. 

angryIn my first year at Secondary I was given one of the stricter teachers who was firm in his belief of textbook work. I had always been good at maths yet, I began to struggle. I would ask for help and would be ignored or mocked of in front of the class for not understanding what to do from the brief explanation at the beginning. 


I then moved into my next year and was assigned a new teacher who I remained with until the end of S5. What a difference. The teacher believed in a thorough note which was taken in a separate jotter at the beginning of each lesson on the chosen topic then progressing onto textbook work once a clear understanding had been established within the whole class.

numbersIn my personal experience, it was the teacher who made the difference to my outlook on maths. They may not have had the best understanding of the topics we were covering but I believe that was beneficial on both our parts. A clearer explanation was given at the start for the class’ understanding and the teacher’s clarity.  The teacher also implemented fun into his lessons with the use of interactive white boards for class recaps and discussions.

When faced with the daughnting task on my first placement of teaching maths I will arrive at the situation with the confidence and enthusiasm that I saw in my teacher. Even though I may not have a clear understanding on the topics myself I hope this will not portray through my work and that every child has a clear and profound knowledge of the maths covered that day.



A Big Bang

Biology and Chemistry were always made to be fun with lots of experiments throughout primary and secondary which is why I believe I enjoyed them so much more than physics which was mainly equations. 

scienceI believe that in primary schools there is a lack of science in the curriculum with maybe one lesson a week, if any. This has always been a concern of mine as there are so many different topics which can be made so much more enticing and enjoyable through the use of experiments relating to science. 


experimentAt a local placement there was a day set aside to science once every year where the kids were encouraged in the weeks previous to research and come dressed as their favourite scientist with 3 facts about “themselves”. The children were also encouraged to bring into the class a short science experiment which I believed to be a great idea as it not only allowed the children to explore their creativity but also created room for class discussion on what was learned through the experiment. 

Whilst on professional practice I will hopefully be able to introduce a vast range of science into the classroom from the knowledge that will be built up over the next few weeks through the science inputs. 



Little Minds

We know that everything we learn contributes to our memory. However what many are unaware of is the different types of memory. For example, there are many types of long term memory including;

  • Episodic – specific things – personal experience- where/when it happened
  • Semantic – all world knowledge
  • Procedural – knowing how to do something – riding a bike/driving a car
  • Mix of all these e.g- a trip to the market

brainAlso, automaticity is a very important aspect in increasing efficiency of processing information. Automaticity is achieved through practice and reduces the ST memory capacity. A classroom example includes, reading – children will often not be able to tell you what they’re reading (without automaticity).

Other factors that influence the development of knowledge include;

  1. Knowledge – increases as a function of age
  2. Strategies – rehearsal – repetition in various forms, organisation allows information to be stored more easily, elaboration – making links to aid memory

There are many different aspects to our minds and especially the way in which we memorise things.

Metamemory development refers to the monitoring, regulations and  awareness of the memory’s contents. There are two parts – Awareness of how memory works (what’s easier/harder to recall) and memory monitoring (what strategies to use).

Metacognition – refers to the knowledge and understanding of our own thinking process. It is the knowledge of what one knows and how one learns. As children grow up they become more aware of their own abilities and are better able to assess when a strategy will be effective.

False memory – Refers to they way children, usually young, reconstruct a memory falsely due to not tracking information as they encode it.

phineasPhineas Gage became a key interest of psychologists’ work after his personality changed after his brain’s left frontal lobe was mainly destroyed after and accident at work in which a large iron rod pierced completely through his head.

This started a worldwide focus into the theory of mind. The theory of mind refers to the ability to take perspectives of others and understand their mental state i.e – beliefs and desires.

The theory of mind develops across the world at roughly the same age regardless of cultural influences. However, children below 4 years old are unable to reflect on the mental state of themselves and others and their beliefs – This can be seen in the Deceptive box test. The development of the theory of mind can provide children with new realm of information on which they can draw from.
thinkingIt has been discovered that children develop this theory between the ages of 3&5 then at the ages of between 6 and 8 children develop the send stage in which the theory of mind allows other skills to develop including the understanding of jokes, sarcasm or bullying.

At what age a child develops this theory of mind depends on various environmental factors including;

  • The number of older siblings
  • The likelihood children are exposed to adult and peer interactions and communication on a daily basis.
  • Extended family

autismThe failure to develop the theory of mind has been linked with the autistic spectrum disorder. The lack of theory of mind produces many impairments affecting many aspects of a child’s life including; social relationships, communications and a lack of imagination. However, autism is not a product of the failure to understand the mind.


What are they thinking?

Everything that we do comes down to our brain and the way we think. It has been at the heart of psychologist’s fascinations for years.

ivanIvan Pavlov was the first psychologist to focus upon behaviourism through his ‘Classic Conditioning Test’ His conclusions were that we can change the natural reflex of human and animals. Furthering Pavlov’s findings, B.F.Skinner concluded that all behaviours are learnt through experiences, operant conditioning, through his experiments in the Skinner Box.

Behaviourism can be monitored through the use of reinforcement, especially in the classroom. We, as teachers can use a number of techniques to increase behaviour for example;

  1. Presenting a positive stimulus (positive reinforcement) e.g- hugs,praise, rewards of some kind from homework
  2. The removal of an aversive stimulus (negative reinforcement) e.g- buying a toddler a treat in the supermarket to stop their whining

Furthermore, there can also be techniques used to decrease behaviour which can be used as part of behaviour management in a classroom. Including;

  • An aversive stimulus is presented (Positive punishment) e.g – getting burned from touching a hot iron
  • Isolation fro a reinforcer (Time – out) e.g- asking a child to stand outside the classroom to cool down
  • The removal of a valued item (Response cost) e.g- TV/gaming/ ‘grounding’

behaviourHowever, there are many implications of these behavioural techniques. For example, If a child is isolated and sent out with the class, this can make the child feel like a ‘big man’ and they can repeat the actions for attention. These behaviour strategies also only dal with the behaviours and not the cores (doesn’t take into account of cognition)- why is it happening? is there any issues as to why the child is acting out? and also some children may start to manipulate the system and only behave until they receive a reward then act out.

However, Albert Bandura developed the Socio – Cognitive Theory and suggested that we learn from: environmental factors such as role models, instruction and feedback and also personal factors such as goals, sense of efficiency, attributes and process of self regulation.

jean piagetIn the 20th century, there was a very teacher led approach to education and children were seen as passive learners. Jean Piaget was a Swiss biologist who believed that children are not in fact mini adults but instead pass through 4 stages of development;


  1. Sensorimotor (0-2 years) – interaction with environment
  2. Pre-opertional ( 2-7 years) – representation of world symbolically
  3. Concrete Operational (7-12 years) – learning of rules – observation
  4. Formal Operational (12+ years) – focussing on the future – adolescent

Piaget also rejected any sense of authority and believed children develop more through peer interact. Of course, this proposed many implications within the classroom including; we must only teach children what they are ready to learn and treat every child individually and differently.

lev vygotskyWithin the 20th century, Lev Vygotsky also undertook experiments into the way a child mentally develops through thinking. Like Piaget, Vygotsky concluded that children acquire the tools of learning through social interactions. It is these interactions which build an ‘inner speech’ which then becomes thinking.

Neo-Piagetians explain Piaget’s stage theory in terms of information processing – so capacity and efficiency of processing. They have concluded that adults do have more capacity and efficiency and all that you sense you won’t necessarily perceive.