Student talk

24th October 2008 at 01:00

I am immersed in the world of academia and loving my life as a sleep-deprived student teacher. As yet, I have not purchased a university scarf, or started wearing shorts over opaque, patterned tights, but I have caught myself browsing through text-books on the train, pencil in hand. I carry a heavy rucksack jammed with ringbinders, my lunch, and library books I will probably never read. I think I now look the part.

Despite my initial reservations, I quickly mastered the numerous PGDE(P) course abbreviations that were machine-gunned over our heads in the first week. I have progressed to "ism" words.

In a recent tutorial, we discussed the relative merits of behaviourism, cognitive constructivism and social constructivism. I am told these debates will make me a better teacher, what is called a "reflective practitioner", which I am pleased about. Another bonus is that talking about such things outside education circles is apparently a good way to get rid of annoying dinner guests.

In our tutorials, the air has been buzzing with earnest debate. The names of great educational thinkers - Piaget, Pavlov, Dewey and Vygotsky - pepper our discussions. These guys shaped our modern school curriculum.

In one tutorial, we were asked to examine a teacher's lesson plan and then discuss what theories it demonstrated. There were no obvious clues involving dogs or bells, but we rapidly pinpointed behaviourism. Not bad!

However, while I can see this is important to my development as a professional educator, responsible for delivering policy priorities at the chalk-face, there are those who argue it amounts to navel gazing.

It is all very well learning educational theory, these cynics say, but when you are faced with an angry P6 boy brandishing a cricket bat, where does it get you? Good question. I suppose after studying all these psychologists, you might at least know WHY he is about to batter you.

Perhaps thinking about pedagogy and how children learn will have helped you plan such gripping and relevant lessons that the boy is too engrossed in his learning to misbehave. Now that is a good point. Discuss.

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