Category Archives: My educational philosophy

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.

 

The importance of being an enquiring practitioner…

As we learnt today, in Nikki’s input, being an enquiring practitioner is highly regarded within the teaching profession. This is something that I think we should acknowledge as new student teachers. 

On the GTCS website it states that “Practitioner enquiry is an area of professional learning which was highlighted in Teaching Scotland’s Future (Donaldson, 2011) as a way forward to support teachers to become more engaged with research to support their own learning and ultimately pupil experiences.” 

To enquire means to ask for information from someone, to investigate and look into a situation further. So, to be an enquiring practitioner, we must investigate. Whilst investigating, we must be able to explain or defend our actions by using a rationale approach. Practitioner enquiry is usually undertake within a practitioner’s own practice however, can be completed in collaboration with others. For practitioner enquiry it is fundamental that it is based on evaluative and reflective teaching. Also, for effective enquiry undertaken by practitioners in the future; it should become and integral aspect of the day to day practice.  This I believe interlinks with ‘The Standards 1.4.2 – “I am committed to lifelong enquiry, learning, professional development and leadership as core aspects of professionalism and collaborative practice.”

Like most concepts of education, practitioner enquiry brings both benefits and challenges to the table. Advantages include;

  • Through using practitioner enquiry, teachers can become empowered and encouraged to transform and challenge education.
  • It provides a resource that teachers can use to monitor and develop their own practice.
  • It allows teachers to explore and investigate strategies and initiatives they can adapt in their classroom.
  • It can increase their knowledge of teaching and learning. This helps to build their self esteem as a professional and can aid them in making a professional&autonomous judgements which goes onto enhance their professional identity and self esteem further. 

However, engaging in practitioner enquiry can also rise challenges for teachers;

  • Before engaging with practitioner enquiry, a teacher must consider that it can be somewhat overwhelming and needs to be carefully managed. With the model, it is very easy to take on too much.
  • Practitioner enquiry can also be a disengaging and a disempowering process if there is no planning, understanding, management or support offered at all levels. Also, if it is imposed it can lead to the disenfranchisement of those involved.
  • It can also be a very slow process, there is not always a specific end point or direction for teachers carrying out practitioner enquiry.
  • To transform professional learning there must be radical and rigorous change. This is difficult and individuals and schools need to be open to and ready for potential changes.

Therefore, I believe that we, as teachers, must be adaptive and open to change. We must also engage critically with our practice and always be questionable, never accept. 

We must adopt a professional, critical and questionable approach to learning.

We, as student teachers, should grasp education with both hands and transform it for our students by following the ‘Model of career log professional learning’.

The GTCS website was used in support of this TDT.

Attachments

From the minute we begin to develop within the womb, we form attachments. Therefore, to me, this is a vital aspect of our learning. It has since been found that for a sound upbringing a child needs to have some sort of attachment so surely this is a great aspect in a child’s holistic development?

aSimilar and related factors to attachment are placed highly in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which indicates their importance in a child’s upbringing.

We have studied the Attachment Theory which conveyed that normally a child develops a clear attachment to their mother (who is also the primary caregiver). Long ago, people believed that this was due to the mother providing food. However, there is growing evidence that contact and comfort have a greater importance… demonstrated through ‘Harlow’s Monkeys 1980’.

aJohn Bowlby discovered that children have the innate ability to form attachments and it was the evolutionary attachment that promoted survival, care and nurture. Bowlby was influenced by Konrad Lorenz who carried out numerous studies on attachment. One of his studies, ’44 Thieves’ concluded that 70% of the thieves had experienced some level of maternal deprivation therefore had the inability to experience guilt through theft.

However, like many I disagree with some of Bowlby’s statements regarding attachments in children. For example, Bowlby concluded that a consequence of maternal deprivation is the development of delinquent personality. I disregard this statement as I have since found otherwise through numerous case studies, including the ‘Lost Boys of Sudan’.

‘The Lost Boys of Sudan’ was a study concluded on a group of children that were separated from their parents through the Civil War in Sudan. The study focussed on their coping mechanisms to their ambiguous loss, as many did not know the fate of their parents/siblings. One of the coping mechanisms adopted by the children was distraction. This included doing homework which resulted in many taking an interest in education and strengthening themselves as a result. Completely contradicting Bowlby’s statement.

Mary Ainsworth developed the theory of attachment further through her Strange Situation Test. This was a test in which a baby and mother entered the room full of toys and played, a stranger then entered the room and the mother left whilst the babies reaction was recorded. This was to record the strength of attachment within babies. The results were that 50-70% were securely attached to their mothers again portraying that attachments form in the very beginning of a baby’s development.

Within the test 15-20% displayed insecure attachment. Being insecurely attached brings many consequences both short or long term;

Short term – Children are less likely to interact with others, less likely to show an interest in what is going on, less likely to be seen developing and are less likely to settle into early years education

Long term – has an impact on social relationships later in life and greater incidences of serious health problems e.g – mental health ill

Ainsworth also found that those who are securely attached have more intimate friendships, higher self esteem and perform better at school. Also, parents who were securely attached are more likely to have securely attached children.

So is there a link between parenting styles and attachments? I believe that there is. There is numerous studies all concluding the same; the more parents play, communicate and interact with their children the more happier, healthier and well developed they will be in the future.

Surely this is something that must be highlighted to all parents.

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.

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.

A Philosophical Approach

Coming to uni, I didn’t have a clue what Philosophy was. It wasn’t a subject ever covered from the high school I came from.

This all changed when we began our Philosophy module with John. I soon became aware of some the key concepts and began to challenge my own thinking.

aaaWe were introduced to key philosophers and their views on education including; Dewey, and his view that immaturity is important in education as it allows the individual to grow; Plato, and his view that the soul is immortal and that we do not learn anything instead simply we recall information and also that error is a very important part of education; Aristotle, and his view that practical subjects, for example music, are just as important to the holistic learning and development of an individual as the scientific ones; Gramsci, and his view that there is no unity between school and life resulting in education becoming like a tool; Paulo Freire, his view that education is an ongoing activity due to the human being being incomplete; Maxine Green, and her view that today’s teachers must be aware of their student’s needs; Alfred Schutz, and his view that our actual experiences aren’t merely retentions and recollections and himself, and his view that education beyond education is an invitation to estrangement.

platoPlato’s story ‘Allegory of the Cave’ was really interesting and helped my understanding of the main philosophical questions. In his seventh book of the republic Plato tackled the philosophical question of ‘What is reality?’ In the story Plato imagined a group of people born in a cave who couldn’t escape and could only see the shadows of the people, animals that pass the opening of the cave. This builds up their reality of the real world. However, one day one of the people escape the cave but at first is blinded by the natural light. Over a course of a few days, their eyes adjust to the light and they begin to experience the outside world and return to the cave to tell the others that their reality is just a projection. However, without the others experiencing the outdoor world then the story is just a projection. This develops the theory that you can have a projection of something that isn’t it’s true form.

I feel these philosophy lessons has helped my understanding greatly. I now feel confident in writing about philosophy for my VIVA which, at the start, before the lessons, I was dreading.