To help create a qualityenvironment whereby learning can take place, it is crucial that teachers essentiallyunderstand how children learn. The definition of learning is difficult toformulate into one sentence, as learning is described as a magnitude of thingsincluding the process of becoming aware, listening, hearing, remembering andproblem solving (Ostroff, 2012). She suggests that the need for learning is deeplyembedded within the roots of humans. One way in which this need is met isthrough actively exploring the environment to gather up new information. Accordingto her this is a very physical process and involves the sensory system feedinginformation back to the brain to help create an action. Pollard and Anderson (2012)adds to this by suggesting that any sensory information either fits with’coming to know’ or ‘already known’ thus seeing learning as a process of addingnew concepts and ideas to what the child already knows. One means through whichthis is achieved is play.
Play is described as an umbrella term (Bruce, 2004). Playis seen as a social cultural process in which many interactions that occur areheavily impacted by the environment (Robson, 2012). Because of this it is a majorstepping stone in helping a child to develop physically, intellectually andemotionally (Elkind, 2007). Through thedifferent types of play, children learn to become both creative and imaginativeand learn to adapt their interactions and communication with others in theirgroup to suit the situation.
(Edgington, 2009). As children become increasinglyinteractive they are the able to learn about the cultural diversity that existin society, as well as the diversity of different beliefs. (Wood and Attfield,2005). Children become more able to control their emotions and in turn becomingmore appreciative of other beliefs that exists in this postmodern society (Sayeedand Guerin, 2001). Not only is play a windowto help children develop intellectually and emotionally, it also helps childrento develop physically through the extra physical activities they participate in(Manning-Morton and Thorp, 2003). It is difficult for learning to always take placethrough play, without a full appreciation of its function within a child’slife. It is therefore vital that teaching does become more child centred andfocused on always developing a child as holistically as possible. The idea ofcombining theory alongside practice is known as pedagogy.
The philosophy of Pedagogyis used improve teacher-student relationship within a class setting byencouraging positive teaching strategies, actions, as well as decisions bytaking into consideration the theories of learning, children’s needs, and interests. According to Szapkiw and Szapkiw (2010), the behaviourist learning theory puts a hugeemphasis on rewards and punishments in determining future behaviours ofchildren. Behaviourists such as Skinner and Watson believed that theenvironment triggers behaviours within children and whether this behaviour isrepeated depends on how the child was treated because of the behaviour. This isapplicable to teaching, as teachers often guide children to the desiredbehaviour using subtle cues. Once the desired behaviour is seen, the child iseither praised or given a prize reinforcing the replication of this behaviour.Many suggest that the behaviourist theory has a highly reductionist approach asit reduces behaviour to be only being controlled by reinforcement and failingto take into consideration the influence a person’s mind has over behaviour.
Therefore, instead of involving students in solving problems, behaviourists usemethods of direct instruction (i.e., lecturing) and assess their learning basedon their responses to questions through written tests. In contrast to behaviourists, Constructivists such asPiaget and Vygostsky viewed learning to be a search of meaning and a form ofexperimenting (Lloyd andFernyhough, 1999). Piaget suggested that the childrenare not able to automatically understand new information straight away insteadthey must constructand gather known knowledge from previous experiences to allowchildren to depict what is occurring.
Thus, coming to the assumption that oneof the biggest roles of teachers according to constructivist would be tomotivate and encourage children to create their own knowledge through prior personalexperiences (Weegar and Pacis,2012). One of the biggest differencesbetween behaviourist and constructivist is that behaviourists are more likelyto look at the content to be learned and the influence of the environment uponthat learning, a constructivist is greatly interested in acquiring how thelearner can begin to construct meaning (Weegar and Pacis, 2012). In contrastto behaviourists, constructivism believes that one of the biggest ways to helpa child’s development is through problems that are open-ended and requireproblem solving through a child’s active participation (Patsula, 1999). Ratherthan directing a child to the answer which behaviourist have adopted.
Constructivistbelieve the role of a teacher is to encourage children to explore, question,challenge, and formulate their own ideas, opinions, and conclusions. Constructivism idea of problem solving is very popularand as a result makes it the basis of helping to for “education policies,models and practices” (Brown, 2002). Although both approaches have their flawsthe significant other difference between the approaches is that the behaviouristapproach as more of a teacher-centred classroom, as ultimately the teacherdirectly affects the child’s behaviour whereas the constructivist approachallows the child, so the learner to take responsibility of their learning. Inhind sight, one could suggest that due to globalisation and the increase of theuse of technology learning itself has shifted from behaviourism toconstructivism, as learners often go out of their own way and assume responsibilityto learn something online without specific instructions. One of the reason forthis being the easy accessibility and convenience of technology. My statement ofphilosophy of pedagogy is that when children are actively able to participatewithin an activity to problem solve they become more emotionally invested in reachinga solution and therefore can learn more efficiently. This can be heavilysupported by both learning theories, as constructivist believe in actively engagingwith a task. Therefore, my statement puts an emphasis on the child actively engagingwithin the task to use their problem-solving skills to construct their ownknowledge from previous experiences.
One way of using previous knowledge wouldbe to look for elements which the child can relate to. This elicits an emotionalresponse and means that the child also becomes emotionally involved which inturn helps them to also according to behaviourist to grasp and learn. The firstresource that I have chosen that supports my pedagogy is Elmer the patchworkElephant (Mckee, 2007). The book is based on an elephant, named Elmer who hasskin that resembles patchwork comprised of various colours. The basis of thestory is focused on the theme of diversity and self- acceptance. Within thestory Elmer is not happy with his appearance and because of it believes he doesnot ‘fit in’.
To deal with this Elmer paints himself grey, since everyone elsearound him is grey. The consequence of this action results in Elmer not beingrecognised by his friends who then go onto ignoring and alienating him. Elmerbecomes even more upset then he initially was before the paint. Towards the endof the story it starts to rain and Elmer’s grey paint starts to fade from hisskin. This reveals Elmer’s ‘patchwork’ skin and much to his surprise Elmerrealises that he was a lot happier when he can be himself.
With His friendsreassuring him that his differences are a part of his identity and only makeshim who he is; a good friend. The reason as to why I thought this resource wasof such high quality was firstly due to the easy language being used within thebook, which meant that children could read it on their own. This is particularlya key feature for effective learning that is recognised and highlighted by constructivistand my philosophy of pedagogy. The child can become more independent and beginto problem solve for themselves, resulting in a greater depth of learning tooccur. Through this resource teacher can expose children to real-life themes of self-acceptance running throughthis book and encourage them to practice what they have learned from the bookonce reading it and then applying it to real life experiences and futuresituations. The conversation of what ishappening in the book also reflects wider society allowing discussions to occurwhereby the child is then emotionally able to relate to the feeling ofalienation and segregation.
Oneof the reasons why the child may be able to really relate and engage with Elmeris the fact that Elmer has been given a childlike personality that is predominantly innocent,happy and naive. Since Elmers personality is relatable, this mayelicit an emotional response from the child whereby they feel like they canreally engage with the story and one way of showing this would be throughasking questions. This helps them to acquire more knowledge to their growingunderstanding. One other feature that helps to excel this book is the use of pictureswithin the book. When Elmer is happy and himself, the author uses brightcolours to symbolise this. This too can elicit a subconscious emotional responsewithin the child and when Elmer becomes ‘grey’ his feelings reflect this colourwhich children can use their past knowledge of associated dark colours withElmers emotions of feeling low.
Accordingto Awasthi (2012), a visualdisplay helps children to develop and sharpen their analytical skills helpingto overall improve the attention of thelearners so they participate more actively. As children use their sight and as well as listening theyare more likely to remember and retain the information they have learnt forlonger as oppose to just reading without pictures (Go?mez Chova, 2013). Using thisresource means that those who have additional needs can participate.
Accordingto the EYFS it is crucial that teachers accommodate for both the visual andhearing impaired. The second resource that I have chosen that supports my pedagogy is theboard games of Snakes and Ladders. The use of this game if highly effective inhelping children learn, as it is based on exploration and trial and errormethod. Since the nature of the game is rolling a dice and using the counter tothen progress depending on the number rolled the child is forced to think beforehandwhether they will go up the stairs in the game or go down snakes to a lowerlevel within the game.
This game is more applicable to the behaviourist approachas it is not so much about problem solving since the game if fixed and thechild has no control on what number the dice lands on. During the game if achild keeps landing on snakes, according to behaviourist the child may begin toassociate their rolling of the dice, the behaviour they repeat to them repeatinggetting snakes. This is often why children can be seen trying to roll diceusing different techniques so that their outcome become different. Although constructivistwould say there is an element of problem-solving as the child is exploring waysto achieve a different outcome and therefore engaging their problem-solvingskills.
Behaviourist would suggest that the reason for their change in the waythey roll the dice is as a result of them associated the dice with a behaviour,and outcome that they believe directly leads to the consequence of landing onsnakes. This on the long term is beneficial as the child is less likely to giveup as they are more emotionally involved within the game and so, learningbecomes interesting. To conclude an emergence of many available technologies nowmeans that constructivist learning approaches of self-direction is becomingincreasingly popular.
However, there are still many learning practices thatfocus on more behaviourist learning techniques, and there are arguments insupport of their validity as well. Blending of the two theories may in fact bethe best way to not only utilise the advancement of technology when teachingbut to also strengthen teacher student relationships as this could be deemed asone if not the biggest factor when implementing effective learning. References