The role of the teacher

Howard Gardner’s blog “Disciplined mind” Gardner eloquently argues that the purpose of education should be to enhance students’ deep understanding of truth (and falsity), beauty (and ugliness), and goodness (and evil) as defined by their various cultures.

I would like this to be my pedagogical philosophy as well. Thank You Howard……

Education most of the time concentrates on how we are going to deliver learning when we should be concentrating on the process of learning. Learning is a change in something, a new skill, new facts that we didn’t have before. People learn differently, some visually, some listen better than others, some need to read and write it down all this needs to be taken into consideration as an educator.

learning style

It would be good to map out what sort of teaching objectives I have and this would have to be “a work in progress” I’m afraid as I no longer teach but my previous objectives were for the students to have fun whilst learning, to feel confident, that they do their own critical thinking and come away with problem solving strategies. The main principles would have to include active learning activities.

How would I do this?

I would certainly take into consideration the different learning styles that my students have and develop the course using different techniques both online and face to face, exercises both individual and in groups/workshops and peer to peer, (having students interact with other students). I would try to form connections between the students and myself by using my previous knowledge and personal experiences and listening to their own personal and classroom experiences.

Measure effectiveness

I would want to measure the students outcomes, say if problem solving skills is one area that I think is important for them to learn then I would test their skills in this area.

Why a teacher?

Sometimes when the course planning nights were long and wallet short of the green stuff what kept me going was the odd student or even parent that thanked me for the lessons learned or the fun homework that I devised which involved the whole family, this gave me back the energy and passion to carry on.


The social media natives have arrived

The students that spent all their teen years using Facebook have just graduated this year so the first true “social media natives” have arrived at our higher education faculties and they are very different from previous generations. 

socail media natives

Photo source: The Atlantic

Motivation is the key in keeping the learning process alive.

The key skills I learned myself as a teacher in keeping a student motivated in the classroom were giving them a good structure, a process view of what was expected from them with goals at the end. Even today this is still an important basis and also as Turner & Paris (1995) present in their six Cs we need to think of other ways to keep them motivated.

The 6 c’s by Turner & Paris (1995)

  • Choice – Students being able to choose assignments based on their own interest
  • Challenge – Setting the right challenging targets, not too easy and not too hard
  • Control – Handing over control to the students own learning
  • Collaboration – Learning from others peer to peer as well as peer to teacher
  • Constructing meaning – so the students regard knowledge as valuable
  • Consequences – positive effects from positive feedback

“If a student can’t learn the way we teach then maybe we should teach the way they learn” (Ignacio Estrada) I believe that teachers have the duty of preparing young minds to learn and grow into successful adults. Not all students learn the same way and we have to meet the needs of each student. Finding different ways for them to learn to meet all these needs could include

  • Working in Groups in the classroom – makes them interact with each other, think independently as well as working as a team.
  • Presentation skills – Enables them to work with their oral skills first in smaller groups and then in front of bigger classes, giving them confidence in themselves and also receiving feedback from their peers.

Activities that we should have in the classroom should include:

  • Interaction
  • Discussion
  • Reflection
  • Games
  • Peer review
  • Project form

Students arrive in our classes with prior knowledge, beliefs and attitudes from their lives so far. They will automatically connect their ideals to the learning. Wenger (1998) highlights the significance of students’ active commitment when reflecting on learning, identity and development. (Academic teaching). This idea is taken one step further where the student acts as co-creators of higher education. It is being developed today at our department (Teaching and learning in Higher Education) and already in Uppsala University they call it “Active Student Participation”.

Reference articles:

Learning and learning environments

You Tube video from Sir Ken Robinson – Changing Paradigms 

It struck me whilst sitting in a class meeting that most of us taking a course have different cultural backgrounds and each one of us have different experiences of how we learned. In my case streaming the students was used to pick out the “good” ones from the “bad” ones, which meant that the students that didn’t get the recommended grades at the yearly exams were automatically put into a lower grade class. Obviously this didn’t do too much for the student’s confidence let alone the teacher’s expectation on the student’s performance and this prehistoric method is still a big part of the education system in UK schools today.

School streaming helps brightest pupils and nobody else

So my concept on learning was disillusioned at a very early age of 13 when I didn’t pass those exams I was expected to (I must add like many of my peers, not from my lack of intelligence but mainly because of personal reasons at home), I got separated from my group of friends and made to feel like a dunce by being put in a class that was known to be full of trouble makers, so I did as most teenagers would do and gave up on academia and chose Immediate personal experience as my concept of learning.

Kolb’s theory ” Experiential learning” is a process by which knowledge results from different combinations of grasping and transforming experiences, was what I chose to pursue by active experimentation. I worked at the age of 15, became an actress for a short while then I was off to Australia at the age of 18 and basically didn’t stop travelling and learning. In all these ventures I progressed through the four stages over and over again.

  1. Having a concrete experience followed by
  2. Observation of and reflection on that experience which leads to
  3. The formation of abstract concepts (analysis) and generalizations (conclusions) which are then
  4. Used to test hypothesis in future situations, resulting in new experiences.