Teaching – a Never-Ending Process

8 Sep

In EDS 103 (Learning Theories), we were asked to define teaching as a process and the role of teachers based on our existing ideas about learning. In my opinion, teaching is a dynamic process. Since the learning environment is in a state of constant change, teachers need to be creative when choosing from different modes of instruction. Each class has unique needs, and it is the teacher’s responsibility to understand these needs and find ways to maximize the potential of every student.

The best way to do this is to engage in constant research. Effective teacher-researchers who have developed a deep understanding of learning theories can easily face whatever issues they might face during the course of teaching. For example, if the class is having trouble understanding a lesson, a teacher-researcher will gather data in the classroom, analyze the data collected, and choose the appropriate mode of instruction based on his or her findings. The teaching process never stops—it’s a never-ending practice that requires a strong foundation of various learning theories.

I had these ideas when teacher Malou asked us the difference between process and procedure. Erika Yu, one of my classmates, said that “procedure” is “a step-by-step list of activities” that might sound ritualistic to some. In addition, she believes that “process” is a much broader term because it “incorporates different sets of procedures depending on what is needed for the desired output.”

Her definitions of process and procedure made a lot of sense to me. After doing a lot of thinking, an idea hit me. Teaching is more of a process rather than a procedure because it requires steps that are not necessarily in some sort of sequence. Teaching doesn’t have a defined beginning and end—it’s a practice that just goes on and on. Here’s a diagram I came up with:

 

 

Image

 

Just like learning, teaching is also a never-ending process. Teacher-researchers who are constantly looking to improve their practice would probably agree with my definition of teaching as a process.

 

So, what is the role of teachers?

Laura Macalalad provides a simple explanation of what the role of teachers should be. According to her, teachers should:

1. Guide students towards the path of learning, giving the necessary stimulation.

2. Evaluate the level of learning gained from the given activity.

3. Plan for the next appropriate activity.

This is probably the simplest explanation of what a teacher’s role is. We share the same belief that teachers should guide students instead of simply discussing lessons in class. Effective teachers can stimulate the mind of their students through carefully chosen activities, and then plan new activities based on what they’ve learned about the progress their students have made.

 

 “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” 
― Margaret Mead

Margaret Mead also offered to explain the role of teachers in a single sentence. Just like Huitt said, teachers should remember that their role is not to provide skills and knowledge. Their main task is to find ways to stimulate learning and make sure that everyone in their class are motivated to learn. Moreover, a teacher who teaches students “how to think” and not “what to think” can also help students develop critical thinking and independent learning.

How can educators do this? Simple. They must create a learning environment in which every student can freely express his thoughts and opinions about certain things. I’ve had teachers who simply told me what the answers to certain questions are. When discussing about history, they simply made me memorize “significant dates.” They rarely told me exactly why those dates were significant. As a result, I memorized those dates just so I could answer quizzes and exams correctly.

But I’ve also had teachers who were more concerned about developing my reasoning skills Instead of making me memorize things that I would end up forgetting, they taught me “how to think” in a way that would promote lifelong learning. They allowed me to express my thoughts freely and asked me questions that stimulated my mind as well as my thirst for knowledge.

For instance, I had a history teacher who always starts questions with “how” or “why” instead of “where” or “when.” So the Philippines was under Spanish rule for 300 years. How did it affect our culture? Why is the Hispanic period significant to us Filipinos? Why did they occupy the Philippines anyway?  These questions wanted me to learn more about the subject because these questions really challenged me. They helped me make sense of what I already know, and allowed me to question facts that most people just accept as true.

Elmer Ursolino also shared interesting insights regarding the teaching process. For him, teachers shouldn’t rely on conventional methods of teaching. Of course, I agree with him. An educator who constantly thinks of creative ways to facilitate the learning process will have greater chances of promoting long-term learning among his or her students.

Again, there is no single teaching practice that can ensure the effective transfer of learning to new settings. But educators who are more concerned about developing independent learners would surely succeed in helping their students develop a deeper understanding of the world around them.

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5 Responses to “Teaching – a Never-Ending Process”

  1. monetteabalos September 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Hi Marisse,

    Nice explanations! Hope to learn from more of your post. God bless

    • marrissegarchitorena September 15, 2012 at 5:43 am #

      Thank you. Monette! I haven’t had the time to write a new post yet, but hopefully I can come up with one or two posts before the day ends. I’ll drop by your blog soon! 🙂

  2. Jonathan Florendo September 10, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    The title of this article has caught my attention. I am reminded of what Confucius has said; “Give a man fish and he lives for the day, teach a man how to fish and he lives for a lifetime.” I guess this is what education should be. Education is not simply filling the minds of people of ideas, principles, skills, etc. The primordial role of education is to instill the values of human life through the ideas, principles and skills.

    • marrissegarchitorena September 15, 2012 at 5:42 am #

      Hi Jonathan! I agree with you. Since we’re talking about the definition of education, I also wanted to share a few things I learned from my other class here in UPOU (EDUC 103).

      Ma’am de Villa asked us to read a book by Josefina Cortes. In “Explorations in the Theory and Practice of Education,” she came up with a very simple definition of education: “a desirable change in behavior brought about by learning or the acquisition of new knowledge, attitudes, and skills.”

      As you can see, this definition is somehow similar to Huitt and Schunk’s views about education. All of them believe that education leads to a relatively permanent change in an individual’s behavior as a result of practice or experience (Huitt, 2011). However, Cortes also stressed the importance of knowing that “all education is learning, but not all learning is education.”

      So, what makes her definition different from Huitt and Schunk’s definitions? For one, she believes that the “teaching-learning” process is not confined to schools. People also learn new things at home, in the Church, or even on the Internet. However, not all of the things they learned will bring about a desirable or useful change in behavior. For Cortes, the goal of education is to “increase an individual’s capabilities for self-actualization, for the betterment of his life and of his countrymen” (Cortes, 1993).

      I find Cortes’s definition of education really useful because it adds a socio-cultural dimension to Huitt and Schunk’s definition. Also, I think it’s somehow similar to what you said. Teaching is not only about instilling knowledge and skills to students–it’s also about sharing the values and principles of human life, and encouraging them to use their skills and talents for the betterment of other people.

  3. erikadyu November 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    I like that you used Margaret Mead’s statement as a way of giving us a a summary of your view on education. I definitely agree that we should not forcefeed things because real learning happens when children get past through and interpret the basic facts that they get from the books they read.

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