Category Archives: 2.3 Pedagogical Theories & Practice

Healthy Body Bits

I believe an effective and fun way for children to learn and expand theirstuffy-4 knowledge on their human body topic is to take a class trip to the Dundee Science Centre. Here the children can take part in a 45 minute session called ‘Healthy Body Bits.’ The session is recommended for first level learners where they will explore what’s inside the human body through the use of Stuffee, the centre’s giant rag doll. The children are able to operate on Stuffee and search for his organs. Whether the trip is at the beginning of the class project or nearer the end, it will be a great way for the children to learn or revise the organ names and what each of their purposes are within the human body.

The session has a maximum capacity of 33 children and lasts around 45 minutes. This would be an ideal trip for individual classes between primary 3 and 5. This is due to how ages younger than p3 may struggle to sit for the long length of time that the work shop lasts as their concentration span is shorter than the older children. Also, children older than primary 5, may find the session boring as it’s based for younger children.

For this trip, as a teacher, I would first have to contact the centre with specific information which includes:

  • The name and level of the session I wish to book i.e. ‘Healthy Body Bits’, first level.
  • A selection of dates I’d be happy to book if available.
  • An idea of the time we’d arrive and departure noting the centre is open between 10am and 5pm.
  • The number of children and an estimate number of adults that will be present.
  • If I will require a time for the children to be able to have their lunch.
  • Whether I would like to be invoiced or pay on the day of the trip.

Once the trip is booked, I will then book a coach in order to transport the class and myself to the science centre. After everything is booked, I will work out the cost overall and how much the children will have to pay each depending on the school funds. Then I will create permissions slips stating the purpose of the trip, where and when the trip will take place, the price and the fact the children would need a packed lunch on the date stated. I will also include the chance for the parents or guardians of the children to state whether they would like to come along and help. Along with having parents or guardians to assist with the trip, I will seek the help of support staff, teacher’s assistants or management who are free on the day.

On the day before the trip, based on me having the knowledge of the number of adults going to be present, I will split the children into smaller groups assigned to one or more adult. This adult will be responsible for the children while they explore the centre before or after attending the workshop. The centre offers a great opportunity for the children to learn about a wide range of science along with the human body. The class can spend a maximum of three hours within the centre exploring the different areas of science along with taking part in the booked workshop.

The day after the trip, I will then plan a lesson to find out what the children learned while in the science centre. This may include getting them to draw a picture of one important new thing they learned or even write a small story about their day.

Language Acquisition – Skinner and Chomsky

B.F Skinner’s theory was based on his beliefs of how behavior and actions could be controlled by their consequences. He believed that positive reinforcement was successful within children’s education as it encouraged them to try their best and complete work to their best potential. Reinforcement can be positive or negative, whether it be praise with a sticker or threatened with punishment such as detention, it can help children choose their actions and behavior correctly. Within his early stages of experimenting with this theory, Skinner studied animals such as rats and pigeons. During his experiments, he created the ‘Skinner Box’ which was a simple cage like box which the animal was placed within. This box allowed Skinner to prove the success of positive reinforcement as the animal learned that they would receive food with the press of a button within the box. Later, this method was proven to work on humans, especially children. It has become obvious that the use of positive reinforcement, such as praise, with children, encourages them to learn and develop. Skinner believed this was effective with prompting a baby during the process of learning to talk. He believed that when a parent praises the child when a random babble sounds close to an English word, it encourages them to repeat the sounds. On the other hand, when irrelevant sounds of a baby are ignored, it’s extinguished and forgotten about.

Noam Chomsky, however, disagrees with Skinner’s theory relating to children’s learning and development as he believes that humans are born with a basic knowledge of language and don’t have to learn it from fresh. Chomsky believes that language is biologically inherited whereas Skinner’s theory is based on how a child learns how to talk through the use of positive reinforcement from adults who already speak a language fluently. This also goes against Skinner’s belief of how the use of praise and reward with children in fact does not help them learn. Chomsky’s theory disagrees with Skinner’s method of positive reinforcement as Chomsky believes that the use of praise and rewards doesn’t assist a child’s development nor encourage them to learn. He, however, considers that each child is born with a language template which is developed throughout their education. This goes against Skinner’s theory as he believes that a baby’s random babbles don’t have any links to a language until they are encouraged through positive reinforcement by adults to form noises which sound like proper words.

In my opinion I believe that both theories have different aspects which are true. I believe that Skinner could have been correct in saying that if children are praised for making babbling noises that sound like words, it definitely encourages the child to making the sound again. Through the child repeating the sound it will develop until it becomes a recognisable word. On the other hand, I also believe that what Chomsky’s theory says about a human being born with the capacity in the brain for language to also be a good thought, however, I’m not sure whether I think this is true. I do believe that if a child isn’t exposed to language before a certain age that they will no longer be able to learn how to talk. This is due to my research on Genie, the feral child, which I spoke about in a previous post which you can read here.


Genie – The Feral Child

Genie is the nickname given to a 13 year old girl who was discovered in November 1970 after spending her life abused and neglected by her parents. Genie spent her whole life locked in a small dark room which had its windows covered apart from 3 inches at the top – this was the only natural light the girl ever experienced. She spent her days strapped to a child’s potty by a homemade restrain and her nights tied into a caged bed with her arms and legs completely immobilised. Genie spent 13 years in almost total isolation as her father forbade her mother and brother from communicating with her. It was even said that close neighbours were oblivious to the child’s existence completely.

When Genie was found by services, she was the size of a six year old child and had no sense of language as she was never taught how to speak. The 13 year old girl was also found to be still wearing nappies and could barely walk.

Genie’s mother and father were both arrested for abuse, however, her father committed suicide a day before he was due to appear in court. He left a note behind stating “the world will never understand”.

When Psychologist’s heard about Genie, they seen it as a perfect opportunity in order to research into the theory of how it was believed that if children didn’t develop a language by a certain age, they miss the chance of developing it completely. The psychologists found Genie to not be mentally deficient, however, her traumatic past was haunting her. Today’s brain science studies show Genie’s left side of the brain, which is responsible for speech and language, to have become smaller and smaller due to being starved of stimulation. This process continued until her brain physically changed. As Genie’s brain was unstimulated, it was unable to develop the capacity for language. This means that, once Genie was found when beginning her teenage years, it was now impossible for her to develop language. These studies proved the theory to be correct.

Overall, I believe Genie’s story is a great example of how brain development is affected by the environment. As she was isolated in a dark room with no interaction from anyone, it affected her ability to learn how to speak as over the years, her brain had no capacity for a language to be learnt.

The Platonic Notion of Learning

If I’m understanding correctly, the Platonic Notion of Learning is a theory formulated by an ancient philosopher, Plato by writing and narrating his teacher, Socrates, dialogues.

The Greeks believed the soul to have existed long before the body was born and for there to have been nothing it didn’t know about this world and the underworld. Once the soul entered the body, it forgot everything it knew – The immortal soul was believed to be very knowledgably, however, the mortal body was forgetful. Through the use of these beliefs, Plato formed ideas education based that were not thought of before. Plato expressed that as the soul knew everything before entering the body, perhaps the brain was now to try remember what the soul forgot. As the soul was part of the ideal world, we as humans were now to recollect the truth of the knowledge it maintained.

When a teacher is educating a child within school, the child is not learning new things but is remembering what their soul knew before. Plato argues that learning is a form of anamnesis or recollection which is a difficult process and cannot happen without assistance. Plato believes that for the child to remember what their soul has forgotten by entering their body, the teacher must put the child in situations where they will question their assumptions. We also build on the basics of what the child already knows until they have a greater understanding of the subject.

Overall, I found this area I learned through attending philosophy lectures interesting and I hope that my understanding of the Platonic Notion of Learning is correct and clear to understand.