Teaching & Learning Theories

The Dramatic Arts: Everything You Need to Know

This is a type of expression whereby students can reply to stories and express their content-related understanding via acting, dramatic performance, and role-playing. In other words, dramatic arts are a form of narrative performed in front of an audience. These narratives and the way they are depicted could be in different styles, which are called genres.

Comedy and tragedy are the two oldest genres. While a comedy typically ends on a positive note where the protagonist wins and includes significant doses of humor, a tragedy is bleaker and involves a story that usually ends with the protagonist’s death or failure. However, sometimes, these genres could just refer to the story’s negative or positive outcome. Often, there may be narratives where multiple genres overlap, and it becomes difficult to fit them into a clearly-defined category.

In the classroom, dramatic arts can act as pivotal outlets for self-expression. Additionally, they get the students involved in different ways – physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially. The use of dramatic arts in education leads to holistic learning, speeds up personality development, and imparts students with vital life skills, such as leadership, problem-solving, cooperation, and collaboration.

Real education isn’t about spoon-feeding pieces of information to students and them absorbing it all without any question or reason. Education should stimulate smart learning, creativity, logical reasoning, and critical thinking in students. Dramatic arts can help in the education process. For instance, by asking students to enact a historical scene, the teacher may make it easier for them to remember and understand the names, events, and dates of a historical event without cramming. Even role play or puppetry can encourage effective learning by promoting public speaking skills, interpersonal and group communication, etc.

Some key benefits of dramatic arts for students are:

  •         Becoming competent in self-expression: Through creative expression, students can build a broader perception of several matters and realize the importance of self-expression, which prepares them to tackle life’s crests and troughs later on. 
  •         Accepting constructive criticism: Students learn to accept constructive feedback and criticism, which help them work on their weak areas, thus eventually strengthening them. 
  •         Learning life skills: Dramatic arts in the classroom can teach students various life skills like compassion, problem-solving, confidence, empathy, teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration.
  •         Enhanced personality development: The use of dramatic arts in education also accelerates students’ personality development and boosts their self-esteem and confidence.
  •         Learning to lead: Dramatic arts can also teach students to imbibe skills pertaining to leadership and teamwork.

Multiple Intelligences: Everything You Need to Know

This describes an educational theory by Howard Gardner, which states that some areas of specialized intelligence are more sophisticated than others. These are the eight areas of intelligence as proposed by Gardner with the possible addition of a ninth one, namely “existentialist intelligence”:

●      Visual/spatial

●      Mathematical/logical

●      Linguistic

●      Musical/rhythmic

●      Kinesthetic

●      Intrapersonal

●      Interpersonal

●      Naturalistic

●      Existentialist

The theory of multiple intelligences proposes that individuals aren’t born with all the intelligence they’ll ever have. Thus, Gardner’s theory challenged the conventional notion that there’s a solitary form of intelligence, which is sometimes denoted by “g” or general intelligence, and just focuses on cognitive abilities.

Gardner’s theory indicates that conventional psychometric views of intelligence are extremely limited. In 1983, Gardner outlined his theory for the first time in his book named “Frames of Mind,” where he suggested that all people have diverse types of “intelligences.” According to his theory, while an individual might be predominantly strong in a particular area, such as logical intelligence, he will most likely have a range of abilities. This means an individual might be strong in logical, visual, and linguistic intelligence.

Gardner noted that modern society, schools, and culture emphasize logical-mathematical and linguistic intelligence and value them the most. But he said it’s important to put equal attention on individuals displaying giftedness or talents in other intelligences, such as the musicians, dancers, artists, entrepreneurs, and others who enrich the world people live in. 

However, several students with these gifts don’t get much support in school. Many of them could end up being labeled as “underachievers,” “learning disabled,” or those with ADD (attention deficit disorder) when their unique ways of learning and thinking aren’t addressed by a classroom reliant heavily on logical-mathematical or linguistic intelligence.

Gardner’s theory recommended a major transformation in the way modern schools are run. It suggested that teachers get trained to present their lessons in different ways by using art activities, music, multimedia, role play, cooperative learning, inner reflection, field trips, and much more.

Many educators are influenced by the theory of multiple intelligences and use its philosophy to redesign their methods to educate students instead of just relying on boring, old worksheets, lectures, and textbooks. But the real challenge lies in making more school administrators, teachers, and others working with children embrace multiple intelligences in the classroom so that every child gets the chance to learn in ways that are aligned with their unique minds and needs.

Departmentalized Scheduling: Everything You Need to Know

This involves teachers who only teach a single subject to several classes. This classroom organization is generally found in junior, middle, or high school settings. It might also be found at the elementary level in science, mathematics, art, music, and physical education classes. Departmentalized scheduling has both advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages include:

·         Departmentalized scheduling gives students multiple teachers they can approach to get support in academics. Sometimes many students don’t click with one teacher but they’ll with another one.

·         While consistency is very important for young students, they’re better able to adapt to change as they get older. Departmentalizing with a team of two or three teachers in elementary school prepares students for the future and eases the transition later on.

·         Teachers can delve deeper into the standards and create a teaching specialty by focusing on one subject area.

·         As teachers need to spend less time on lesson planning, they get more time to develop new lesson activities for students. They can also work together to develop cross-curricular lessons that help meet standards for different subjects.

·         Transitions make great brain breaks, and students truly need a little downtime between lessons. The transition from one teacher or class to another provides a break and an excellent visual for the mental switch.

·         Departmentalized scheduling allows multiple teachers to get first-hand insights into problems a student might be having. Teachers can work together to help resolve learning struggles or behavior issues. They can also collaborate on what’s working well in a class to help the students in other areas.

The disadvantages include:

·         Many teachers feel that with departmentalized scheduling, they lose time and activities that help to develop relationships with students.

·         Students may lose routine and consistency that they thrive on by changing teachers multiple times throughout the day. They tend to struggle more than in a self-contained classroom due to the differences amongst teachers, classroom environments, and expectations.

·         By only focusing on one subject area, the teacher may become out of touch with other areas’ best practices and standards.

·         Transitioning from one class to another wastes a significant amount of time, no matter how well-prepared the students are.

·         Teachers may lose flexibility when they need to stay on a particular schedule. In a self-contained class, if teachers finish early, they can move on, or if a lesson runs a little over, they can adjust the activities or schedule.

Schemata: Everything You Need to Know

This refers to the organization of knowledge in a way that it can be easily recalled even after not being used for a long time. People use schemata (the plural form of schema) to categorize events and objects based on common characteristics and elements and thus interpret and forecast the world. Fresh information is processed according to how it fits into those mental structures or rules. 

In cognitive science, it’s understood that humans retrieve knowledge from different areas to draw conclusions about non-evidential or missing information, such as during political evaluation or decision-making. Schemata represent the way in which the characteristics of particular objects or events are recalled, as determined by a person’s cultural-political background and self-knowledge.

Generally, the learner in schema theory actively develops schemata and revises them in light of continuous exposure to new information. Here, it’s important to note that each schema is unique and depends on a person’s cognitive processes and experiences. American psychologist David Ausubel argued that there’s a hierarchical organization of knowledge and that fresh information can be included in the already existing hierarchy. 

On the contrary, Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget argued that multiple bodies of knowledge are available to learners. He claimed that a network of context-specific bodies of knowledge exists and that humans apply these bodies of knowledge according to certain situations.

Schemata allow a person to perceive the entire picture of an object or event based on partial information structures. This is possible because every schema has a main category, a so-called slot that joins different semantic networks. For instance, the main category “house” stores the information “floor,” “wall,” and “roof.” 

Therefore, within the context of part-whole relationships, one can deduce that a house has a floor, a wall, and a roof. Also, each schema is built in a way that helps in simplifying drawing conclusions of a represented concept. For instance, if one knows that the object is a door, then the person can assume that it has a handle, a lock, and hinges.

Stereotypes and archetypes are two strategies of simplifying schemata that drive the decision-making process. Existing knowledge plays a role in cognitive processing because pre-existing schemata often need to be activated to develop connections with new information. For example, teachers activate students’ existing knowledge by reading the title and the heading before starting a new topic related to it. Another teaching strategy is using comparisons and analogies to activate the learners’ existing schema to help them draw connections among already existing schemata.

Nondiscriminatory Education: Everything You Need to Know

This refers to the principle that states that all assessments done in schools must be fair and accurate, without any discrimination. This is used to ensure that children from minority ethnic groups don’t receive discriminatory education.

The term ‘nondiscriminatory’ means that education must be deemed ‘valid’ as per educational standards. In other words, education imparted shouldn’t be biased against or for any individual or group. For instance, education shouldn’t be imparted in an environment in which students with disabilities aren’t appropriately segregated, or where it discriminates based on the student’s financial status, culture, race, language, etc. Any such discriminatory elements should be removed to ensure they don’t affect the student’s results in the assessments.

Multiple steps are involved in a nondiscriminatory assessment, especially for students with disabilities. First, the stakeholders must decide whether a nondiscriminatory evaluation is essential. The evaluation process can either be started by someone at the school or the parents themselves. Either way, parents’ written consent is mandatory before the initial evaluation and each reevaluation. In case the parents don’t consent to the initial evaluation, the school may use dispute resolution procedures to get the necessary approval. It’s also mandatory to get parents’ consent prior to any reevaluation unless the school has used all measures and the parents haven’t responded.

Student evaluations must be completed within 30 days of its commencement. Students already getting special education services must be reassessed every three years or more often. Apart from the student and their parents, some workers from the school or school district must be involved in a student’s nondiscriminatory assessment in case the student has some disability. These may include but aren’t limited to a principal, a special education teacher, a subject-area expert, and a guidance counselor. 

Sometimes, one or more classroom teachers may also be involved in the assessment process, especially for older students or those who have participated in classroom activities. After the assessment period has commenced, the group of stakeholders will collect information about the student’s disability. This could include examples of classwork, logs of social and behavior skills, and more. Sometimes, the student will be given a norm-referenced test or a standardized test as part of a nondiscriminatory assessment. Interviews or observational evaluations based on written criteria too could be used.

After evaluation, the group of stakeholders will reconvene to decide the best plan for students. This may include special classes, like sessions with a speech therapist. Other help may consist of 504 plans, IEPs, or more extensive assistance.

Religious Idealism: Everything You Need to Know

This is a theory that proposes the existence of two realms of reality, God’s realm and the realm of humanity. Religious idealism has had a large influence on education. Early Christians were quick to understand that Christianity would do better if its supporters were given some form of systematic teaching about religious ideas. Thus, when they set up schools, they established them in models with which they were familiar. As a result, several Greek and Jewish ideas about the nature of God, society, and humanity went into the Christian schools, together with distinctly Christian ideas. 

The Church played the role of the creator and protector of schooling for centuries, and the generations that went to those schools were taught from the idealist point of view. The religious idealism of Christianity had the biggest influence on education throughout the history of the United States. However, idealism from other religions played a strong part in the global scenario of education. A good example of religious idealism in education is how the U.S., until recently, implemented biblical principles from the Christian scriptures into education.

Immanuel Kant’s book, Critique of Pure Reason, is an important work in this field that changed philosophy and religion forever. Kant focused on the supremacy of reason and maintained the idea that reason was the supreme authority before which all other authorities must be judged, including the esteemed authorities of religion and tradition. Kant tried rationally to ground human belief in real human freedom and, concurrently, in the mechanistic view of the natural world that Newtonian science involved. 

In other words, he tried to reconcile humanity’s highest values with modern science. But it came at a cost. Kent placed crucial ideas, such as God and freedom, in a separate, mysterious realm (he christened it the noumenal), separate from the world of science (which he called the phenomenal), thus defending God and freedom against the intrusion of the natural scientific view in which they appeared to have no place. In Kant’s own words, this was denying knowledge to accommodate faith.

Karl Barth’s work was also amongst other significant developments in the field of religious idealism. It involved Barth’s study of the teaching of St. Paul in the Epistle to the Romans, finding the relation between justification and social righteousness, and understanding how the Gospel was related to the poor’s oppression and the power of the state. The basis of Barth’s theology, later on, was his overwhelming conviction about the victorious reality of Christ’s resurrection, which he gained after he met Christoph Blumhardt – the Moravian preacher.

Classical Idealism: Everything You Need to Know

This is a collection of theories that were proposed by Plato and Socrates. These theories pondered on the nature and principles of knowledge, reality, and the human experience. It emphasizes the use of criticism to understand information and come up with useful conclusions. It believes that forms are structured in a hierarchy, at the top of which sits the various forms of good.

Plato believed people should primarily focus on their search for truth because the truth is eternal and perfect, which can’t be found in the constantly changing and imperfect world of matter. Mathematics shows the possibility of eternal truths. For instance, all points on the circumference of a perfect circle are equidistant from the center. This had always been true, even before people ascertained it, is still true, and will always be true. In other words, mathematics displays that universal truths with which everyone can agree could be found. However, mathematics covers just a solitary domain of knowledge. This made Plato believe that humans must seek other universal truths in newer areas, like politics, education, and society. Therefore, he touted the search for absolute truth as the true philosopher’s quest.

A key criterion of classical idealism is the separation of the world of matter from the world of ideas, which Plato mentioned in The Republic. According to him, at the highest point of the world of ideas sits the Good, which is the source of true knowledge. But people shouldn’t trust the world of matter, which is the constantly changing domain of sensory data. Instead, they should free themselves from their concern with matter, as it’ll let them move toward the Good. Plato wrote that this could be achieved by rising above the world of matter through the use of critical discussion or investigation (dialectic), in which an individual transcends from mere opinion to true knowledge. Plato viewed the dialectic as a medium for progressing from a matter related to the material world to one related to the world of ideas.

Classical idealism focuses on the realm of being or the world of ideas, which is believed to be the source of peace and happiness. This is in contrast to the realm of change, which is considered to be the source of pain and gloom. In the domain of education, it’s important to understand the duality of these two worlds, where one is constant while the other is changing. This will help discover and develop each individual’s full moral excellence and abilities to enable them to better serve society.

Logic: Everything You Need to Know

Logic is concerned with the organization of reasoning. In human history, logic is one of the oldest intellectual disciplines that date back to Aristotle. Humans use logic in just about everything they do – from their professional discussions to personal conversations. People use logic to define ideas, affirm observations, and formalize theories. Again, to derive conclusions from these pieces of information, people use logical reasoning. Even when convincing others of the conclusions someone has drawn, they depend on logical proofs.

In the domain of education, logic is a vital tool as it helps in correct reasoning and avoiding fallacies. It’s also an indispensable tool for philosophical and scientific thinking, and helps in the realization of educational objectives and conceptualizing educational policies. Additionally, it empowers teachers with the correct reasoning and language for delivering the curriculum content.

For several STEM disciplines, particularly computer science, logic is essential. That’s because computers are increasingly using logic for a wide variety of tasks – from validating engineering designs, proving mathematical theorems, and identifying failures to encoding and examining laws and regulations and business rules. As a result, in-depth knowledge of logic is becoming vital for handling “logic-enabled” computer systems and even building such systems (via logic programming).

Logic involves learning structural thinking based on either inductive or deductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning refers to the application of a general set of rules to a specific situation. In contrast, inductive reasoning involves using the details, rules, and principles that apply to a situation to understand it and decide the best steps to take.

For instance, consider the following:

·         All university students are good.

·         David is a university student.

Therefore, David is good. This is an example of deductive reasoning where it’s important to state the first two statements before the third can follow. Such reasoning is common in religion, philosophy, and mathematics.

An example of inductive reasoning is this:

·         The coin Harry pulled from the bag is a dime.

·         That coin is a dime.

·         A third coin pulled from the bag is a dime.

Hence, all the coins in the bag are dimes.

However, inductive reasoning can let the conclusion be false even if all the premises are true in a statement. This example can make things clearer:

·         Arnold is a grandfather.

·         Arnold is bald

Therefore, all grandfathers are bald. It’s important to notice how the conclusion here doesn’t follow logically from the statements. Inductive reasoning finds its place among scientific methods. It’s used by scientists to form hypotheses and theories.

Marxism: Everything You Need to Know

Marxism is an ideology that believes the class system has an unfair influence over the realms of politics, education, and society. Marxism believes that to understand the world, one must study the economic consequences of the existence of the class system.  The Marxist movement suggests that an educational system is a tool that’s used by the dominant classes to maintain their control over the oppressed classes.

Today, it’s the capitalist class that primarily determines what’s taught, to whom, and how. This is in line with what Marx once said about the ruling class that rules the society and even its intellectual force.

According to traditional Marxists, the education system works in favor of the interests of ruling class elites. These people believe the education system executes three functions for these elites, namely:

·         replicating class inequality

·         legitimizing class inequality

·         working to meet the interests of capitalist employers

In today’s education system, class inequalities are replicated or carried from one generation to the next. By using their material and cultural capital, middle-class parents make sure to enroll their children in the best schools. Consequently, the wealthier students are likely to get the best education and then get recruited into middle-class jobs. In contrast, working-class students tend to get a poorer standard of education. As a result, they end up doing menial working-class jobs. Thus, class inequality gets reproduced.

According to Marxism, it’s money that decides how good an education an individual gets. Yet, people don’t recognize this due to the schools spreading the ‘myth of meritocracy,’ where every student is touted to have an equal chance to succeed, and it’s said that grades depend on the students’ ability and effort. This way, failure is typically attributed to a student’s fault, which legitimizes or justifies the system because people consider it fair, though it isn’t. The myth of a fair system helps control the working classes. Since the students grow up thinking they were given a fair chance, they’re less prone to rebel and attempt to change society.  

Marxism also suggests a link between the values students learn at school and the way the workplace functions. The values are taught through the ‘hidden curriculum.’ Such curriculum involves those things that students learn through the experience of attending school rather than the core curriculum subjects the school teaches. This way, students are made to learn those values that are essential for them to toe the line in tedious manual jobs.

Computational Thinking: Everything You Need to Know

In paraphrasing Jeannette M. Wing’s definition of computational thinking, it deals with providing solutions to complex problems, creating effective systems, and having a good understanding of how humans behave. This process involves actively utilizing the central concepts of computer science and comprises a wide assortment of intellectual tools which echo the extensiveness of computer science as a field.

It is pertinent to delineate computational thinking from what it is not. For example, although it is typically confused with programming/coding, this is not the entirety of computational thinking. It is an evolving model that can even be carried out without using a computer.

The International Society for Technology in Education has already pinpointed that as soon as teachers see how much computational thinking can be utilized outside the definite usage of computers, it will be catalytic in learning and promoting curiosity among growing students.

Computational thinking has four subsets: decomposition, pattern recognition, algorithms, and abstraction. Together, these valuable areas form the benefits of computational thinking. These benefits include:

Decomposition: This subset of computational thinking is all about taking things apart. Budding engineers may delight in finding this mindset’s hands-on applications as they develop and grow their comprehension of complicated materials one step at a time. Kids, who’re this kind of learners, may join a robotics club at school. Outside of STEM, decomposition skills become useful when tackling societal issues, learning a new language, and comprehending the far-reaching effects of historical events.

Pattern recognition: Programmers utilize pattern recognition all the time to identify the most effective means of solving problems, and it’s crucial to fields like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science. Insightful, efficient pattern recognition is beneficial to children, whether they’re leveling up their chess game or enhancing the user experience of the latest app.

Algorithms: Algorithm design is all about identifying the fastest and most streamlined means of accomplishing the desired result. They organize pieces of information so that they can be put to the most effective application, such as finding exactly what a person is looking for in Google. Learning about coding algorithms is a wonderful way to begin exploring computer science.

Abstraction: In the context of computational thinking, abstraction means focusing only on the most important elements of an idea. Whether in editing a written masterpiece or perfecting a line of code, abstraction comes in handy when children need to focus without concentrating on small details.

Children will become more effective critical thinkers, planners, communicators, and problem-solvers by developing their computational thinking.