Disclaimer: This article is primarily intended for teachers and parents. Still, it can prove insights for anyone interested in the converging disciplines of ‘Teaching’ and ‘Learning’. Anyone who can bear the sight of academic concepts tucked in ‘hither and thither’ within the prose. So reader discretion is advised…
What is the best way to impart a quality education?
One that does not restrict the student’s intellectual scope, but encourages it to grow uniformly. Both within the confines of the curriculum and without it.
In this post, I will attempt to address this question, as well as try to anticipate the direction in which the Online Learning venture is headed. The role that ‘positive’ technologies – such as Constructivist teaching models – will inevitably play in the future will also be shed light upon.
When scholars and researchers analyze learning & teaching methods academically, they tend to emerge with not-very-dissimilar conclusions.
“A general optimism/freshness of outlook and theoretical perspective is a critical component of every sound and collaborative teaching regimen.”
The traditional stances pertaining to this issue have largely given way to more information-sharing & knowledge-construction frameworks. These have been explored in full through the progressive/constructivist paradigm of imparting education. As a result, it might be a good idea to explore the future of learning from today’s vantage point.
Because when the end is clear, the journey becomes easy (or so they say)!
Note: All theoretical approaches referenced in this article blog post have been acquired through the Spectrum Internet Plans
On Positivity within the Classroom: A Personal Account
I’d like to state that by ‘positivity’ I do not wish to make allusions to the concept of ‘scientific positivism’. ‘Positivity’ has to be taken in its more literal and psychologically-subjective sense – to be made sensible for our purposes.
Positive vs. Humane Reinforcement
In virtually all interactive sessions that I had within my classrooms, one core teaching principle seems to have consistently stood my test of time and experience. I call this teaching positive reinforcement.
This is different from humane reinforcement, in which the child on the receiving end of an academic check is left scarred with a debilitating sense of failure. As most psychological authorities would attest, adolescent and pre-adolescent children are particularly susceptible to negative feedback. Even if it should be warranted and conveyed politely.
As I have learned through my fourteen years of classroom engagement, the best way to communicate your disapproval of a student’s work performance is to not intone the said verbal or textual correspondence as such.
Learning from My Mistake
When starting out as a fresh instructor, I continually committed an error. I used to be very direct and straightforward with my impressionable young ‘charges’; as I referred to them in my Victorian state-of-mind back then.
At this point, I’m sure that you can gauge something about my psyche from these involuntary admissions. I generally believe that a teacher should be like an open book, with a transparent subjectivity that can be understood. Charismatic and forceful figures have the uncanny influence of dictating their opinions to others.
It wasn’t long before I discovered the great degree of animosity and willful contempt that started to radiate from each and every one of them. Even from some of my star pupils, who I always attempted to laud loudly in front of everyone.
Instead of imparting learning and improving students social skills, I had unconsciously become responsible for brewing up a mob-like sentiment in the group. One that was fast on its way to imploding from within. That means with pupil turned against a fellow pupil. Which wanted to bind me in a body bag!
My moment of redemption actually came from the instigations of one of my more discerning students. This pupil indirectly attempted to point out the egregious folly of my ways. I asked about what I could do to make my attempts at consolidating a more congenial and ‘breathe-easy’ environment within the classroom. She offered an apt retort: Don’t ever criticize, or say wrong, to any one of us, Miss. Like, never!
And I have not only stuck to this wise commandment ever since but have also traced its echoes in some of the leading pedagogical theories of the 20th century. All these theoretical approaches can be thought of as abstract technologies in their own right.
This is because they provide teachers with a tested framework of assumptions. Which can be used to come up with innovative results in particular learning environments.
On the Importance of Positive Intent within the Classroom
But what is true of all of these in-class approaches? It is that the dually-conjoined issues of teacher politeness/compassion and positive attentiveness serve as de facto limiting factors to the success of any instructing venture. If a certain tutor happens to fall short in terms of these matters, he/she risks the viability of the entire academic program.
Irrespective of which theoretical teaching model is adhered to. And till date, I haven’t come across even one educationist, who would be willing to sabotage the one vocation that he/she adores the most – that is tutoring.
There are ‘no wrong answers’, but only different ways of interpreting the same sociological & rational phenomena, therefore a skilled instructor can initiate two-way dialogues with students. Not a one-way exchange of information.
This technique inculcates a sense of confidence in the minds of students. It encourages them to build and refine their own knowledge-bases consistently. When a tutor is conceived as more of a negotiator of knowledge, and not its immaculate & singularly-authoritative repository, true learning can be facilitated.
Learning needs to be dialectical, requiring the constant input of all members. It should not be construed as a canvas to showcase the skills-set of the individual delivering the information.
For the betterment of all, that is!
Online Learning – Its Current & Future Prospects
The advent of the Internet Age brought with it an entire host of opportunities for education services to the masses. With the backing of the One-World vision, the World Wide Web sought to transform the way in which information-dissemination began to be grappled with as an initiative.
It wasn’t long before major university institutions started offering their distance education services to students. These virtual programs are also bound by the strict legal stipulations observed in the original brick-and-mortar academic sites. Upon the successful completion of an e-learning regimen, a student is subsequently awarded a certified university degree.
Addressing Current Distance Learning Programs
Although current distance education programs are fully interactive and dialogic, they have faced their fair share of criticisms. Proponents of the current virtual learning model argue in favor of maintaining some semblance of a structure. They argue that the complete dissolution of existing paradigms for the sake of entrenching a more pluralistic model will lead to a state of postmodernist chaos ensuing within the classroom. Their detractors espouse a more ‘internationalist’ view of the teaching/learning environment.
With the contention that currently exists between these two pedagogical camps, one thing is certain. The future of online learning will definitely feature a more diversified blending-in of all known theoretical approaches. And the teaching virtues of a rigorous brand of optimism and continual hope will form an integral part of this learner-oriented future.
And in my opinion, the world, with all its legions of young learners destined to take the reign of global management from their predecessors, will be better off for it!
Rosie Harman is an Educationist, a Book-Lover, and a Culture-Critic, who likes to recount her professional experiences (of being a Middle School teacher) using the medium of words. She lives in Ann Harbor, MI, and can often be found taking long walks around Lake Michigan. She regularly blogs at Spectrum Cable Company.
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