The Essence of Effective Teaching

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Introduction
A two year old child is an inquisitive child, he is curious about the world, always asking why? He is on a quest for knowledge and has a real love of learning. Why is it that soon after this same child starts going to the one place that is supposed to provide him with lots of knowledge, i.e. primary school, that learning becomes a chore and his enthusiasm dwindles? Perhaps the teacher is at fault or maybe the content of the curriculum doesn’t appeal to him or perhaps he just finds it too hard. Would we be better not sending our children to school and allowing them to continue to teach themselves through their natural inquisitive nature? After all Maria Montessori said “He has the power to teach himself” (Montessori, M, 1967, pg.6). Surely through maturation, a natural process which will happen regardless of any intervention from the outside world, he will learn all that he needs to know. Maturation can account for a certain amount of learning, however in order to bring the child to a higher level, effective teaching is required. What then constitutes effective teaching? There are many elements to effective teaching which I will discuss in detail in this essay and I will conclude that when all these elements are in place the teacher will have brought all her students irrespective of their abilities from where they are to a higher level in all aspects of their development. The elements of effective teaching that I am going to discuss are, preparing a learning environment, recognising learning styles, following the child, strategies and methodologies, teacher preparation and reflection, and applying a cosmic approach.

One might associate the importance of preparing a learning environment with the 3 to 6 year old classroom, but it is equally important in the 6 to 9 and 9 to 12 year old classrooms. The environment looks different, the tables and chairs are bigger, there is less floor space, the materials and resources are different, and there may be a computer in the corner of the room. However the main difference between the 3 to 6 environment and the 6 to 12 environment is not in its physical appearance but the fact that the 6 to 12 year old prepared environment extends beyond the walls of the classroom. A teacher of this age group must offer opportunities to widen the horizons of the 6 to 12 year old child and extend the prepared environment into the local community and beyond. The teaching of the curriculum should not be limited to what the school can provide. “..look at every area of learning and find a museum or some form of field trip that will bring a subject alive for the children in a way that will really fire their enthusiasm and interest” (Lord, J, 2006, P.10) By firing up their enthusiasm and interest in a particular subject, the children are more likely to be open to learning and can relate this knowledge to their first-hand experience from the field trip. This way they can make the connection between the lesson in the classroom and the real world. Not all children however will find every subject and every outing appealing. It is therefore up to the teacher to appeal to the individual interest of every child. One child for example may not like maths and may avoid it on every occasion; however the same child may have an interest in sport. The teacher could find a way to incorporate maths into sport, perhaps by getting the child to calculate league tables in football or speeds per km in cycling or comparing speeds of a runner, a cyclist and a race car driver. The teacher must ensure that the classroom is resourced with the materials that will allow the child to follow his interest and find these things out. Using newspaper articles, books or internet sources. By being prepared and appealing to the interests of each child the teacher can ensure that each child is given the opportunity to learn and expand his or her knowledge. Effective teaching is not just about appealing to the interests...
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