Monday, November 30, 2009

“Tell me and I forget. Teach and I remember. Involve me and I learn” Benjamin Franklin

Students Learning in the remote province of Kompong Speu

Students Learning at Pagoda Onalum

Students Learning at Bamboo Shoot School

Students Learning at Royal University of Phnom-Penh

The Liberationist, The Facilitator, and The Executive Teacher
Three Basic Approaches To Teaching and Learning

School is a place where students learn about themselves and about the world. And the business of the school is developing intellectual and nurturing the mind, not pampering the emotions. Yet, the levels of intellectual ability may differ, but all humans share the same emotional capacities to feel love, anger, empathy, caring, and joy. The practical curriculum should capitalize on this capacity between school and life, and teach our youth about the common humanity of all human beings. Education should help each person make his or her life more meaningful and fulfilling.

Often, in a classroom setting, teacher makes decisions regarding the information that needs to be covered and skills that need to be developed. Teacher should emphasize discovery and opening the world for the student. Learners should be full participants in the learning process. Education must rest on a solid foundation of knowledge about how to use it. Each teacher is a unique person, and it is by being really yourself that you really can become a great teacher. Since knowledge is power, these three basic approaches to teaching and learning give the teacher the power to choose way(s) to teach that will help achieve one of the noblest goals to which human beings can aspire: assisting the young in becoming thoughtful, competent, and caring adults.

Before examining each of the three different approaches to teaching and learning it is important to identify and remember the five elements common to all teaching framework called ‘MAKER’ framework (Approaches to Teaching, 2004, Gary D Fenstermacher and Jonas F. Soltis): Methods of teaching, Awareness of students, Knowledge of the subject matter, Ends that guide teaching and learning, and Relationships between teacher and students. Now I invite you to empty your cup (your own personal opinions and perception) and enrich your own conception of the role, purpose, and persona you want to be yours as a ‘wow’ teacher by reflecting on these different perspectives of teaching and learning.

1. The Liberationist Approach views the teacher as a liberator of the mind to wonder, to know, and understand, to imagine and create, using the full intellectual inheritance. Teacher with appropriate manner frees and opens the mind of the learner, initiating him or her into human ways of knowing and assisting the learner becoming a well rounded, knowledgeable, and moral human being. The liberationist teacher stresses initiation into ways of knowing and the development of the student’s intellectual and moral virtues. The emancipationist, a variant of the liberationist approach with strong social and political orientation, sees the social world as a place of constant struggle and oppression where those who have power, privilege, and status assert themselves and those who do not have power or privilege accept their diminished status and fate that follow from it. Furthermore the emancipationists argue that schools often serve as instruments of social reproduction in which the lower class learn to be docile workers who follow orders and the upper class are trained for leadership and the exercise of power. The end of emancipationist teaching stresses to free the minds of students from the unconscious grip of oppressive ideas about such things as their class, race, gender, or ethnic status and other forms of social repression. One becomes free of these oppressive ideas not simply by recognizing them as oppressive, but by doing something about them (Paulo Freire, Brazilian Educator, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 2001). The liberationist uses ends that guide teaching and learning and knowledge of the subject matter as dominant factors.

2. The Facilitator Approach who focus on the development and nurturing of each student’s unique capacity and personal characteristics to help them attain authenticity and self actualization. Teacher has a civic responsibility to model how to be loving, empathetic, just, honest, respectful, and caring individuals. Providing students with the opportunities to experience and practice these skills, along with providing cognitive development is their obligation. Teacher is like passports to these experiences. Teacher also helps students and adolescent become themselves. Students really learn and grow in their sense of self-worth. Teacher is an empathetic person who believes in helping individuals grow personally and reach a high level of self-actualization and self-understanding. He or she nurtures the personhood of the student by engaging him or her in meaningful experiences that connect with their lives (care pedagogy). The facilitator puts awareness of student and ends that guide teaching and learning central.

3. The Executive Approach views the teacher as a skillful manager of learning, and the acquisition of knowledge, skills, understandings, and competencies. Students must rest on a solid foundation of knowledge and the ability to think critically. Teacher conveys basic subject matter and skills as efficiently as possible. Careful developed curriculum materials and methods of teaching backed by research are very important. They provide the teacher with techniques and understanding to use in the management of the classroom and the production of learning. In this context, students learn by in large what they were engaged to study. The executive stresses the methods of teaching and knowledge of subject matter and put less emphasis on awareness of students, ends that guide the activities of teaching and learning, and relationships between teacher and students.

Today’s world is diverse and constantly changing. Educators must be prepared to deal with these challenges. Understanding, practicing and gaining perspective in one or all three approaches prepare you to function more effectively in different school settings with different types of learners. Knowing teaching is personal, my intent here is to offer and present new way(s) to teaching and learning for further reflection as well as new topics for conversation with your fellow teachers. Our common goal as teacher is to provide an environment that stresses the ethical and moral values of society and prepare students to become self-directed and lifelong learners. Students become active learners through active teaching. I salute you for the great service you render to the nation and its children.

Sources and for further reading check out:
1. Approaches to Teaching, 2004, Gary D Fenstermacher and Jonas F. Soltis.
2. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1970, Paulo Freire.

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