Tuesday 8 April 2008

Education: What is teaching and learning?

If you are going to evaluate teaching and learning you need to find some sort of benchmark to say this is good and this is bad. This will depend very much on the theory of learning that you have.

Some people think that expertise and mastery is an important concept and others think that the transfer of factual knowledge is important. Some people take a view of the different student experiences and learning styles, some think of the teachers experiences and teaching styles. Some people put this into a context of the current social order.

There has also always been a strong divide between academic and vocational subjects as well as between the professions, the arts and the sciences. Dewey suggested that when you have a competing set of views then you should use this dialogue to extract the underlying meaning.

So for me the core, the central reality of education in no matter what subject and no matter how it is carried out is the ability to make decisions. Deciding which pot to use to cook the food, which tool to use to work the wood, which experiment to carry out to prove your model, all of these are decisions and we become most effective as a practitioner of what-ever discipline we belong to if we can make better decisions.

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