Category Archives: 2 Prof. Knowledge & Understanding

Our importance in the Physical Child

We have learnt that we, as teachers, mainly focus on cognitive development due to being conscious of role expectations. However, physical and cognitive functioning are closely linked. However, this factor is not always appreciated with young children. We, as teachers, need to consider all aspects of a child’s development as we look at the children in holistic terms: ‘the whole child’

aPhysical development in concerned with a child’s gross and fine motor skills, the way a child exercises their body in their surroundings. Physical development is an important aspect which is studied as growth determines the experiences a child has and also can affect the reactions of others.

Whilst, developing children are compared to ‘the norm’ this is the normal expectations of the child at their particular age. For example, by the age of 4 children should be piecing together sentences and be able to communicate with ease. The role of practitioners is to expose the children to environments which allow them to become aware of their senses and use appropriate language to help them make sense of these experiences.

Through doing this, children will be able to understand the key value, we have as teachers, that every individual is different and have different limits to what they can do, this will build empathy towards others that are not as fortunate as themselves.

aaTo strengthen children’s physical development, we can engage them with activities that will exercise their fine and gross motor skills. For example, running and climbing will build a child’s gross motor skills whilst developing the pincer grip through painting will develop a child’s fine motor skills, all of which will be beneficial as the child progresses into/throughout school.

The Nature/Nurture Debate

For several years, there has been a debate over nature/nurture and which has the biggest influence in our brain development.

We know that the brain is a complex and astonishing organ of the human body. Without the brain, we simply could not live.

aGenes are critical in creating humans as individuals – they create varying personalities and physical appearances. Genes also play a very important role in learning and learning disabilities. We know that just a slight difference in our genetic make up can result in serious disabilities. Therefore is genetics enough for brain development?

I believe that whilst genetics do have a lot to answer for in terms of brain development, so does the environment we are exposed to throughout our lives. It is to our knowledge that we develop greatly through the use of our senses which are enhanced through exposure to different environments.

aaWe are aware that our environment shapes up greatly which has been demonstrated throughout numerous studies including, a study which had some rats placed in isolation with no stimulation of other environments or their senses. The other rats were placed in normal environments with extra luxuries to interact with including toys, puzzles etc. All of the rats were then placed in sewer conditions in which they had to navigate through, the results were that the rats which were isolated failed miserably whilst the rats exposed to a healthy environment exceeded. This proves that the environment we expose ourselves to has a great impact on our brain development.

We must think of education as a landscape, and we the teachers are the gardeners.

Brain Development Timeline

4000BC – Sumerian records show first writing on the brain – An anonymous report on sensations after ingesting poppy seed plant.

450BC – Alcmaeon, an early Greek physician, is the first to use anatomic dissection of animals as a basis for his theories.
He concludes from his studies that the brain, not the heart, is the central organ of sensation and thought. This idea directly contradicts the accepted theory of his time which holds that the heart is the true seat of intelligence. Alcmaeon also suggests that the optic nerves are light-bearing paths to the brain and that the eye itself contains light. This fanciful theory of the eye as a container of light is believed by many neuroscientists until the middle of the 18th century.

a335BC – Aristotle states that the organ of thought and sensation is the heart and that the brain is merely a radiator designed to cool it. 
He claims, however, that the organ of thought is not the same as the basis for thought. The basis for thought, which he calls the rational soul, is immaterial and can not be found anywhere within the body. Aristotle’s theories about memory ultimately prove to be more successful. He correctly surmises that the processes involved in short term memory (immediate recall) differ distinctly from those involved in long-term memory.

1664 – Thomas Willis, a professor at Oxford, writes the first monograph on brain anatomy and physiology – ‘Cerebri Anatome’.  
In his book, he states that the cerebral hemispheres, which constitute 70% of the human brain, determine thought and action and are completely separate from the part of the brain that controls basic motor functions like walking. He also locates specific mental functions within the corpus callosum, corpus striatum and the cerebellum and introduces the words; ‘neurology,’ ‘hemisphere,’ ‘lobe,’ ‘pyramid,’ ‘corpus striatum,’ and ‘penduncle’ into the modern vocabulary. His work is influential in leading future neuroscientists to study the functional contributions of individual brain parts.

aaa1848 – Phineas Gage, a railroad worker, survives a bizarre accident in which the frontal lobe of his brain is pierced by an iron rod during an explosion.
Although he eventually recovers, he experiences profound mood and behavior changes. By all accounts, a quiet, industrious worker before the accident, Gage becomes a surly, combative man who can not hold down a job. This famous case, now found in countless neuroscience textbooks, was an important milestone in the study of the brain’s anatomy because it suggested that key parts of the personality resided in the frontal lobe. These findings indirectly lead to the development of the procedure called lobotomy, which was based on the theory that removing portions of the frontal lobe could cure mental derangement and depression.

1869 – Sir Francis Galton publishes his work – ‘Hereditary Genius’, which claims that intelligence is an inherited trait and that high levels of intellectual achievement follow genealogical lines. 
Galton also makes the first scientific attempt to measure intelligence. In 1888, he sets up an “anthropometric laboratory” in which he uses the rather dubious measures of visual acuity, auditory accuracy, and breathing capacity to assess levels of intelligence.

1875 – Wilhelm Wundt, in Leipzig, Germany, sets up the first lab devoted to study in human behaviour and suggests that psychology should be regarded as a complementary scientific discipline to anatomy and physiology.
Wundt is deeply interested in philosophy as well, and many of his students at the lab, known as the Institute for Experimental Psychology, are men who have studied philosophy at other German universities. At the Institute, students are taught a wide range of philosophic and psychologic subjects including the study of attention and sensory processes. Wundt’s Institute becomes the model for most of the psychological laboratories established in Europe in subsequent year.

aa1905 – Alfred Binet, a leading French psychologist, disputes Galton’s use of sensory discrimination as a measure of intelligence.
He claims that individual differences in intelligence can be detected only through measures of complex processes such as memory, imagination, attention and comprehension. In 1904, Binet is appointed to a commission concerned with how to integrate retarded children into the public school system in Paris. The committee decides that special education programs should be provided for them and proposes that a system be designed for identifying retarded children entering school. Binet sets out to develop a scale that can differentiate children who are slow learners from children who are learning at a normal rate. He collaborates with Theodore Simon, a young physician who has worked with retarded children in the past. The result is a scale designed to measure a variety of higher mental processes such as memory and imagination. To test their scale, Binet and Simon draw samples of children from schools, hospitals, orphanages, and asylums. They use these samples to try out the various cognitive tests they have designed with the goal of selecting those tests that clearly discriminate between the slightly retarded and the normal school population. In 1905, Binet and Simon introduce their intelligence scale and provide guidelines for its administration. They stress that the scale is appropriate only for assessing whether or not a child is of normal or inferior intelligence and is not designed to uncover the psychologically unstable or insane.

1911 – Henry Head, a British neuroscientist, publishes ‘Studies in Neurology’.
In it, he disputes the prevailing theories about aphasia and argues that speech is not a localized function. He also conducts important studies with the Irish neurologist, Sir Gordon Holmes, on the neurophysiology of sensory perception in the cerebral cortex, focusing particularly on patients’ spatial perceptions of their own bodies.

1921 – Hermann Rorschach, a Swiss psychiatrist, develops the ink blot test.
The Rorschach test, as it is now called, consists of ten standardized ink blots. Half of the ink blots are in black and white and the other half are in color. A subject is asked to describe what he sees in the visually ambiguous pictures and then his responses are analysed or “scored” by the test giver. The test contains three scoring areas — location, determinants and content. Location refers to how much and which part of the ink blot is described. Determinants refers to the patient’s description of the blot’s shape or colour. Content, the most straightforward of the categories, refers to the types of objects described. Many psychiatrists have found animal and human sightings to be particularly useful clues to patients’ psyches. The Rorschach test, once widely used as an “open-ended” test for personality traits and disorders, has fallen out of favor in recent years because it is so difficult to independently validate the results.

1949 – Walter Rudolph Hess wins the Nobel Prize for his work on the interbrain, which includes the hypothalamus, subthalamus and parts of the thalamus.
His research shows that the interbrain is responsible for coordinating the activities of the body’s internal organs.

1974 – M.E.Phelps, E.J.Hoffman and M.M.Ter Pogossian develop the first Positron Emission Topgraphy (or PET) scanner, a machine that provides visual information about the activity of the brain.
A patient undergoing a PET scan is administered a substance that includes radioactive atoms that emit positively charged particles known as positrons. The gamma radiation that results from this process is sensed by detectors and converted into computer-generated images of the brain as it would appear in cross-section. Doctors use PET scans to monitor such things as blood flow and oxygen utilization in the brain.

1990 – U.S President George Bush declares the decade starting in 1990 the “Decade of the Brain”.

1997 – Stanley B. Prusiner wins the Nobel Prize for his discovery of a new genre of infectious agents known as prions.
Normally, prions exist as harmless cellular proteins. However, they possess an innate capacity to convert their structures into highly stable configurations that can lead to the formation of harmful particles. Prusiner’s research implicated prions as infectious agents in several brain diseases that cause dementia in humans and animals. Prusiner’s discovery of this new principle of biological infection has also helped to provide important insights into the mechanisms underlying other types of dementia-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

2000 – Arvid Carlsson, Paul Greengard and Eric Kandel share the Nobel Prize for their discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous system.
Signal transduction occurs when a message from one nerve cell is transmitted to another through a chemical transmitter. It takes place at special points of contact, called synapses. Each nerve cell can have thousands of such contacts with other nerve cells. Carlsson, Greengard, and Kandel’s research focuses on one type of signal transduction between nerve cells, known as slow synaptic transmission. Their discoveries have contributed to a greater understanding of the normal function of the brain as well as how disturbances in this signal transduction can give rise to neurologic and psychiatric diseases.

The above information was sourced from:

Teachers as Professionals videos

What makes a teacher who makes a difference?

From watching this video I was able to identify several key aspects that are vital to teaching with a difference. These include;

Teachers must be aware that, like other professionals, they are involved with life and death situations. For example, a bad education will not produce a professional. A bad education is an abuse of human rights as it will not progress society. Therefore, teachers must be reachable by their pupils, parents, colleagues and community. This involves educating as a community for example, keeping parents up to date with their child’s education, enjoying watching children progressing and taking initiative and making contributions that will make a real difference.

To be a professional teachers must also: realise that their degree is not enough they must strive towards self development, constantly. This can be done by reading educational magazines and being aware of what is happening as education is ever changing and dynamic; not only educating themselves in new teaching methods but also develop the skills of other teachers by passing on information and sharing on new concepts and ideas. Teachers should never be content in sitting around and must overcome the odds to progress children to the best they can be.

Teachers must also: be available 24/7, dedicated 100% to their profession by sacrificing and discipline, committed and have a passion to create miracles. All professional teachers, to me, love their job and this can be seen through professional accountability – there is always a guaranteed quality. Also, professional teachers take responsibility for their actions if something goes wrong and always go the extra mile by being approachable, passionate and professionally up to date.

Do you agree with what these teachers call professionalism?

I agree with Miss.Long that there is more benchmarking and that teachers are being ranked on how well their student’s are doing. I believe that this puts more pressure on teachers to adapt all of the learning approaches to education so that each and every individual child has the same opportunity to do well.

Mrs.Chimmi also stated that a teacher’s professionalism can initially affect the children within the classroom as they grow up into adults. This is why both Mrs.Chimmi and I believe that it is important in the way a teacher portrays themselves in the way they speak, the way they act and their appropriate attitudes. We as teachers are role models  and our behaviour will hopefully one day be adopted by the children that we teach so they become good, responsible citizens.

“Professionalism is a big part of being a teacher” I agree with what Mrs.Smith said. I also agree with her viewpoints that professionalism in teaching is vital to relate with other teachers and it also allows you to be an effective communicator when trying to resolve problems with both parents and pupils alike.

Finally, Miss. Long encouraged that teachers as professionals should continually develop professionally by researching trends in teaching and learning standards in order to be cater for every individual child, with which I agree with.

What is the message here?

I believe that Chris Christie places teachers very high up in the professional hierarchy. However, his viewpoint, to me, did not seem to suggest that he had a great deal of knowledge of the education system. He seems to think that teachers can be satisfied within their jobs with a pay rise. “they care about our kids and they’re doing a great job.” This again, to me, shows his lack of knowledge. He’s made no attempt to back this statement up with any evidence or experience of the teaching profession. I think that Chris Christie should maybe subject himself to difficult teaching in a disadvantaged area to portray that teaching isn’t always easy and sometimes no matter how hard the teacher tries; the job is left done partially or not to the expected standards.

Also, I believe that Karen Lewis makes teaching out to be a chore. She believes that teachers are in fact educational “workers” and that “workers” are those who simply punch a clock. This makes teachers out to not care for the needs of each individual pupil, which we all know isn’t true of a professional.

To me, Chris Christie’s view is more favourable of teachers and the one of the two that I agree with more. I believe that the teaching profession should be placed amongst the likes of doctors in the professional hierarchy as without a healthy education the professionals such as doctors, dentists and veterinary surgeons would not be in the jobs they are in today.

Everything is down to a great education which can only be delivered and enhanced by a teaching professional.

Virtues of Teaching

To me, teachers need a variety of different virtues and ethics to display themselves as professionals but also there for the pupils as a support unit.

The 5 virtues that stood out to me as being important to teaching were;

Compassion – We as teachers will be interacting with children from a range of different backgrounds. I believe that it is important for a teacher to be compassionate towards pupils so they can rely on you as a support unit which they may be lacking at home. It is also professional for a teacher to show compassion to show their class that they are in fact human.

Respect – I believe it is highly important for teachers to be respected by their class but also pay this respect back. If there is a mutual respect shared in the classroom then it will be a much better learning space. Children will look at the teacher as being a professional if respect is given.

aConscious – With primary school children there will always be playground arguments to deal with. In such situations, it is very important for a teacher to have a conscience to distinguish between which child is in the right and which child is in the wrong in order to resolve the problem.

Justice – I believe that it is important for a teacher to promote justice within the classroom. All children will feel that they are treated equally so are more likely to contribute to classwork, enjoy their learning and strive to do their best. This is an important value to encourage children to carry with them into later life also.

Empathy – Like compassion, I believe it is highly important if a teacher can bring themselves down to the level of the child to fully understand what they are feeling and how they can help.

Professionalism and the Online World

The GTCS professional guidance on social media and the way it is used in classrooms identifies the rise of social media’s power in todays education and the importance of the teacher introducing this to their pupils to enhance their learning.

aSocial media is infused with a number of different benefits including, when used correctly, it allows children a safe way to communicate with one another. They can, for example, talk to one another of what they learnt that day and build friendships. These interactions can build a child’s confidence in the way the approach their learning and immerses them in the digitised world from an early age, making them more aware of their surroundings as they develop.

I believe that teachers have a very important role in portraying the importance of social media to their pupils. I believe, in order to do this we, as the curriculum’s fresh faced teachers, must first marry the personal vs professional outlook to social media, ourselves. These days, children have the knowledge to make a few simple clicks and find their teachers on social media sites for example, Facebook.  To me, the way a professional, such as a teacher, displays themselves on these sites is vital. It is in the best interests for all teachers to adapt the private outlook to social media and ensure that everything accessible is of the correct content, privatised and displays themselves as a professional.

connecting-with-parents-onlineHowever, I do find that the digitised world lacks a space in which parents, pupils and teachers can work and correspond to one another cooperatively. The mainstream social media sites: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are too personal and can easily cause problems. However, the educational targeted social media sites e.g- Glow I feel, seems too educational and there is no way for pupil’s to express their likes, dislikes and include both the teachers and parents all at once. This would be an idea to take forward in the progression of the online world and digitised space we are exposed to as teachers.

I believe that a class teacher should propose a class blog. To which, all parents and pupils can contribute to. This would keep parents in the loop of their children’s education and homework. It would also allow the pupils to gain the skill of peer assessment through commenting on one another blog posts.

The media is infested with stories to prevent the use of social media in classrooms. From the misuse of certain websites on behalf of the teacher/pupils, to the wrong video link being displayed to the class. To me, these stories are only there to scare those wishing to embark into the digitised space. Instead of holding back because of the threats we should be embracing that sometimes mistakes do happen. Aren’t we encouraging children to not be scared and that mistakes are part of a healthy education? Then how can we do so if we too are afraid of embracing new learning technology?

aaWe should focus on encouraging pupils to embrace technology and enforce how to use it correctly. We can now set up links with classrooms worldwide which is a concept which excites me. Children can learn easily about different cultures and countries through conversing with classrooms worldwide.

I believe that we, as teachers, should be embracing social media/technology and using it to our advantage to strengthen our pupils’ knowledge of society in general. Instead of hiding away because of the very few problems that may arise from its use.

Gender Discrimination

For me, personally, gender discrimination was a big issue whilst growing up. I wasn’t aware of it at the time but since learning about Gender with Jill I realise how serious it can be.

aaI always loved football growing up. Ever since my dad dragged me along to my first Dundee match at the grand age of 4, I was hooked. I began to kick a ball about in the garden most days and when I got a little brother I though all my Christmases had come at once, someone I could beat. I went along to trail for a local boys team as I thought I would be given a chance. I was so wrong. The coaches only agreed to let me play for the team if I hid my hair, on match days, under a hat. This to me was sheer discrimination against my gender which forced me to play on a girls team my whole life. 

I have also experienced gender discrimination against a male. My Mum runs her own Highland Dance class and a boy Andrew has attended regularly for around 2 years. Andrew is subjected to bullying and constant name calling at school because of his interests in dance.

I think both scenarios are appalling and that gender discrimination should have been left in the past. I hope we as the fresh faced teachers of the new curriculum can help to change this in the future.