Great Minds: The Essential Guide for Teachers

Topics: Educational psychology, Education, Constructivism Pages: 78 (7827 words) Published: December 30, 2013
Great
Minds
A TES Essential Guide
to education’s most
influential philosophers

guide

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WHERE
THEORY
MEETS
PRACTICE
A TES Essential Guide

Educational
philosophies are
complex and
wide-ranging.
In this TES Essential
Guide, James
Williams, a lecturer
in education at the
University of Sussex,
makes sense of it all.

Theory and practice 4
What it’s all about.

Bloom’s taxonomy of learning 8

Bloom’s theory links the knowledge we have
to how to we think, explains how attitude
affects motivation and how our ability to do
practical things changes the way we learn.

Behaviourist approaches 12

Behaviourist theories say that our learning is
linked to our responses to our surroundings
and the stimulus we receive from them.

Humanistic approaches 16

Humanistic theories are based on the idea
that everyone wants to learn and teachers
should facilitate that learning rather than
prescribe what should take place.

Cognitive theories 20

How we think and learn are summed up by
cognitive theories such as constructivism and
multiple intelligences.

Motivational approaches 26

Motivational theories say that learning
should be relevant to learners who need to
feel safe in their surroundings and that their
achievements are recognised.

Thinkers who have shaped
modern education 30

Four thinkers who have challenged the
government’s top-down approach to
education.

Quote, unquote 34

ESSENTIAL GUIDE Great Minds

3

GREAT
MINDS
If you’re interested in philosophy
and want to know how it can help
you in the classroom, read on...

4

ESSENTIAL GUIDE Great Minds

There’s an old saying: “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and behaves like a duck, then it probably
is a duck.” But is looking, sounding and behaving
like a teacher enough? Actors can make convincing
doctors on screen, but you wouldn’t want a Casualty
actor treating you for a life threatening illness.
Being a professional is not just knowing what to do
and how to do it. It’s also about knowing why you
do it. Teaching is no different and that’s where the
theories of learning and teaching come in.
If you have been teaching

It is possible to take

for a while, those boring

somebody off the street and

theory lectures may now

train them to look, behave

be a distant memory. If you

and talk like a teacher. Some

have just started training,

TV programmes have done

perhaps you are wondering

this with celebrities, but they

if that theory lecture is really

soon come unstuck when

necessary. Isn’t it just better

they realise that they don’t

to get into the classroom,

know why they are doing

see how it’s done and learn

certain things in a classroom.

on the job? This is where we

Initial teacher education

need to differentiate between

is about integrating the

training and education. It is

how and the why. Simply

the difference between the

learning on the job with no

how and the why.

theoretical input may teach
you how, but it often fails to
address the why.

ESSENTIAL GUIDE Great Minds

5

This doesn’t mean that a

An oft-quoted name

job-based training route

in lectures on child

cannot and does not produce

development is Jean Piaget,

good teachers, it does.

but he is just one theorist.

It was summed up for me by

Essentially, we can divide

a head of physics from an

child development into

independent school who I

three camps:

interviewed for a PGCE some

n The maturationists (for

years ago. He knew he was
a good teacher, he got good
results. Doing the PGCE, he...
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