Are we still using the same?
Written by: Diana Cárdenas and Daniela Fernández Antía.
“No sólo los prisioneros son tratados como niños, sino que los niños son tratados como prisioneros. Los niños sufren una infantilización que no es la suya” (Deleuze as cited in Morey, 2005, p. 28).
If we take a look at the definition of the word education, one might find many. Those, most of the times are determined by the system of values, and the things that were considered correct in a certain period of time. For example, in the Middle Age a model of education appeared: the traditional. In this model, children were trained to be quiet and to obey commands that are imposed by the teacher. This paradigm proposed that students accumulated information about a topic without any critical process; they just memorized systematically (De Zubiría, 2006). Moreover, this model had some characteristics: the educator was the only person who owned the knowledge; the pupils should listen to him or her in order to learn. The student was treated as an “adult” because “el principal deseo del niño es el dejar de serlo, lo cual le confiere un gran impulso a su actuación y un inagotable deseo de superación” (Alain as cited in De Zubiria, 2006: p. 75), it granted teachers the authority to punish the pupils if they did not do their homework, or they did not follow the rules because they were considered grown – up individuals. However, nowadays the concept of education has been reevaluated by several authors, taking into account that students are no longer considered as empty beings in which educators insert information. Hence, the new perspective wants to cover all the features that make part of the individual, because the pupil is seen as someone that not only, thinks, but also that loves and interacts (Wallon, as cited in De Zubiría; 2006). Accordingly, Vigotsky (as cited in De Zubiría, 2006) says that one of the purposes of education is to encourage the development of the students. Also, Flórez (2005) asserts that education must seek the formation of the pupils, so they are able to assume the direction of their lives, and they are capable of recognizing others as equals. So, current ideas plan to raise an integral being, dissimilar to the proposal that makes the traditional education. But, even though the traditional education appeared a long time ago, the majority of teachers still use it, making in that way that things like having control over the students and using antique techniques do not change.
There is a variety of resources to dynamize the learning process such as technology and different pedagogical models, but some teachers still employ old practices such as repetition and memorization. Technology has advanced at a rapid pace, providing in that way several features to be used within the classroom: the Internet, recordings, movies, music, and many more. Also, many pedagogical models are offered: one of them is the communicative approach that aims to “create the need for communication, interaction, and negotiation of meaning through the use of activities such as problem solving, information sharing and role play” (Richards, 2006, p. 23). However, educators do not seem to use those different instruments to make the learning process thrilling and effective; on the contrary, they employ repetition, for example, as a “powerful” mean of teaching. Those include “memorization of dialogs, question and answer practice, substitution drills and various forms of guided speaking and writing practice” (Op, cit, p. 6). These educators that feel identified with the traditional approach, especially with the repetitive practice, are pointed as having lower level of instruction (Ramirez, as cited in De Zubiría, 2006). Moreover, there is a lack of use of different gadgets such as video beams, computers, televisions, because either they do not know how to use them or they do not know how to employ them, due to “using newest technologies (…) in ways that are instructionally effective requires specific knowledge of how technology can be used for pedagogical purposes” (Mishra, 2009, p. 49). Hence, educators lag behind with the use of technologies and newest pedagogical model replacing them for the repetition system and the use of the board.
Furthermore, there is another traditional focus employed by teachers: pupils that show high academic performance are praised, while the rest is ignored or forgotten. This is very similar to what Skinner stated with the behaviorist theory (…) “a behavior is more likely to reoccur if it has been reinforced or rewarded” (Green, 2002, p. 1). Then, scholars that are given reinforcement through congratulation and non – verbal language such us keeping eye contact, listening attentively, nodding when having an agreement, smiling, keeping a straight position, are more likely to succeed (Lumsden, 1997, p. 1). In contrast, when teachers show lack of interest through various ways (such as not keeping eye contact, praising less frequently for success (Op. cit, p. 2), providing fewer clues to low achievers, giving less time to respond and many more, are likely to fail. Consequently, they feel depressed and that they will not succeed. “Until some point the behaviorist approach works because it might encourage students to work. Besides, it can be appropriate for a class full of unruly teenagers, but a different approach might be needed if pupil is at risk of becoming excluded” (Shirley, 2009). Then, educators seem to apply the behaviorist approach by rewarding the good ones, and punishing the others through different ways. As a result, student performance in class is affected.
Moreover, educators still have power over students even though pupils are more autonomous nowadays. For example, students are able to do research in different data bases available on Internet, magazines, books, and many more. They can decide where to extract the information. Furthermore, scholars in some cases are given the chance to evaluate their own process; they are free to choose the grade for their performance. Nonetheless, it is seen at schools that teachers manage their autonomy, because they decide what students must investigate, how chairs, the classroom itself and groups of work should be organized. For that reason, educators have control over the students, what in the traditional focus is called teacher – centered education. So, students are given less freedom to think and to act by themselves; they are being raised to respond to immediate problems but not “develop higher – order thinking skills, also known as critical and creative thinking” (Richards, 2006, p. 6)
In conclusion, teachers show preferences for the use of different techniques that belong to the traditional approach. To exemplify, the repetition and memorization practices; the use of the board instead of different state-of the –art gadgets, the way in which students are treated (similar to the behaviorist theory) and so on. So, teachers must go further in order to find attractive ways to facilitate the learning process, in that way, they will not raise students that memorize and are dependent, the will form humans to solve different problems that are faced in life. To do that, educators must read, in that way, they can learn and apply different systems to make knowledge acquirable and significant for students.
De Zubiría, J. (2006). Los Modelos pedagógicos, Hacia una Pedagogía Dialogante. Ed, Magisterio: Bogotá.
Flórez, R. (2005). Pedagogía del Conocimiento. El Campo Científico de la Pedagogía. Ed. Mc Graw Hill: Bogotá.
Green, D. (2002, December). From Theory to Practice: Behaviorist Principles of Learning and Instructions. The Office for Teaching and Learning Newsletter. 7, 1-4.
Lumsden, L. (1997) Expectations for Students. Eric Digest. Number 116.
Mishra, D. Koehler, M.J. (2009, September/October) The Song Remains the Same: Looking Back to the Future of Educational Technology. TechTrends, 5, 48-53.
Morey, M. (2005). Un Diálogo sobre el Poder. Ed. Alianza: Madrid.
Richards, J.C. (2006). Communicative Language teaching Today.Cambridge University Press. United States of America.
Shirley, R. (2009, May). The Behaviourist Approach to Teaching Class.
Word File: Are we still using the same?
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