Posted in August 22, 2020, Saturday.
In education, there’s a political, cultural, technological, and other key actors that affect it. Some of these forces paved the way for the developments of several modern teaching strategies anchored on different schools of thought like progressivism. For example, “just-in-time teaching” was only made possible upon the presence of technological revolution. However, there are also opposing strategies like Dynamic Learning Program which promotes no assignment policy. With the diversity of our teaching repertoires, it’s not surprising that there are many teachers who have an eclectic mix of strategies. Understanding the whole picture of education, the teachers, the students, and the collective culture of our educational institutions, one would need to consider psychological and philosophical perspectives so as the inequality embedded to it which I’ll discuss in a separate article. In education, one of the important contributions of psychology is on the understanding of the behavioral and cognitive learning process of the students. For philosophy, the value it serves is its guiding and enabling power to redirect us in the right direction. Throughout my experience in the field, I have developed at least three statements that described my teaching-learning philosophy which has also been helpful in providing support to students and putting myself on their shoes during this time and balancing inefficiencies as a result of the enormous shock of sudden adoption of new methods overwhelming internal school system. The first one was about believing that learning is a basic need of a student. Just like food, shelter, water, clothing, and other essential needs to survive life, learning is a basic need of a student. Educators have the primary role to fill this basic need to help them prepare in a rapidly changing world and provide them a relevant and reflecting learning experiences to help them appreciate what they’re learning. Hence, communicating a clear instruction to students, which oftentimes overlooked in the implementation of remote learning, is important especially that they don’t have immediate access to the teachers. The second statement was that students are active participants. Students’ best way to learn is through active involvement in the teaching-learning process. Integrating collaborative learning and other appropriate methods will invoke active participation among students. Though with remote learning, it’s quite challenging and limited to some modalities. Lastly, students’ learning must be supported by assessment. For meaningful learning development, assessment should be an integral part of instruction able to provide timely feedback to improve students’ performance. This is very important because the learning gaps problem is expected to widen.
As a mathematics teacher, I also developed three questions that serve my guide in teaching and learning the subject. The first question is “Why do we need to study Mathematics?” which is also a question oftentimes asked by the students. My simple answer to that is to understand the world and its complexities in a new perspective. There are problems in this world that are difficult to solve or make sense without considering some mathematical perspectives such as predicting future cases of COVID-19. Studying mathematics is a good way to practice critical thinking in which OECD countries are already trying to teach their student population. The second question is “How do students learn Mathematics?”. Students learn best if they are actively involved in the learning process where they are given the chance to construct and reflect their own understanding of concepts and practice their reasoning. They will be more competent in their ability to tackle difficult problems if we give them the chance to become confident. Hence, authentic assessments play a vital role for students to persevere and develop a love for mathematics learning. Finally, the last one will be more about me as the math teacher. “How should I teach mathematics?”. Teachers should be facilitators of the students’ learning, not basically someone who just transfers knowledge directly through deductive teaching. Giving students the motivation to actively examine and extend their thinking to a higher level will invoke and allow them to develop those higher levels of thinking skills. Assessment should also support the learning of students while creating valuable, yet useful information to improve and adjust teaching based on students’ needs. Hence transparency and students’ feedback matters.
Truly, philosophy coupled with psychological perspectives has been a helpful guiding tool in supporting teachers and students during this difficult time. Understanding our students, our colleagues, the school, and the education system as a whole are imperative in the area of learning support because every need should be addressed. It’s different from a want, a need is a need and requires an immediate answer. With psychology, it allows me to place a high value when it comes to addressing the needs of the students and to my personal and professional development and philosophy to redirect me in the right direction. It can help us understand the need to be flexible, to be open to new learning, and to be willing to collaborate with others even though some have been very resistant to meet ends with the learners’ struggles. But as long as we can openly share ideas and still has the right attitude regardless of how pressuring the work of supporting learning this time, having the psychology and philosophy guide me to refocus on addressing urgent matters and various learning support needs arising with the sudden adoption of remote learning modalities.