Pedagogy is a word of Greek origin made up of ‘paidos’ (child) and ‘agogos’ (leader.) So, it’s a fairly fancy word that describes the science and art of education and learning theory.
This one word describes the study of teaching, and how content is presented and delivered to a learner. It is the creation of an educational process that leads to knowledge gain in the learner.
The definition of pedagogy includes the theory and practice of teaching, the strategies employed in order to teach, the specific interaction of teacher and students, the instructive content used, the combined goals of the learner and teacher and the way the content is presented and delivered to the learner.
Pedagogy in education describes the carefully thought-out process a teacher will use to teach their students, taking into account prior learning, classroom context, end goals and more.
Pedagogy is often described on a spectrum with teacher-centered pedagogy on the one end, and learner-centered pedagogy on the other. Effective teaching involves using the ideal pedagogy at different times, in different contexts to support the very best learning outcomes.
Teacher-centred pedagogy, as the name implies, places the teacher front and center as the imparter of information, while the students are the recipients of the knowledge. This can take the form of a class lecture or ‘parrot-fashion’ route learning or following in a text book. This is the most traditional teaching method and is often criticized in educational discussions. However, it certainly has its place, and is best used for specific, factual learning or the introduction of a brand-new concept. It is most effective when the teacher and students have a good relationship, and the students are comfortable speaking and asking questions.
Learner-centered pedagogy grants the learners a more active role in the process of learning, excellent for incorporating and building on prior knowledge taught. By accessing prior knowledge and bringing in new experiences, the next level of learning is created. This pedagogical strategy sees the teacher as a facilitator to the process, a part of the process more than the main focus of it. Many educators believe this is very effective in stimulating individual cognition and a more experiential learning environment, which usually means greater understanding and retention.
Pedagogy, Service Learning and Global Citizens
All teachers would like their classroom management style to be considered a dynamic learning environment, characterized by change, activity and progress. An environment that meets students’ needs for personalized learning while challenging them to enhance their current skills and build new ones.
The teacher of today needs to consider aspects such as:
An inclusive classroom benefits every child in it. Not everyone learns at the same pace, and has the same aptitude. By carefully including learners who might have learning, attention or behavioral issues, stigma is reduced, and a happier environment is maintained. Group work in small groups can assist with this.
We all have an affinity for certain learning styles, and we know through research that we need all of them. Learners will gravitate toward certain styles, as educators we need to move beyond catering to one or a few styles. The dynamic classroom needs to represent all styles, as well as carefully identify and focus on individual strengths and help learners develop in ones that are challenging by catering to all;
Visual learners – get information most easily from a visual display or chart
Auditory learners – learn best by listening to lectures and conversation
Language learners – reading and talking is their forte
Active learners – need to move, touch and do in order to learn best
Logic learners – want to know how and why in order to make sense of their learning
Team learners – need to share, compare, work and study in groups
Independent learners – Naturally learn best by creating their own systems and goals.
Technology in the classroom is here to stay, and the educator who does not incorporate it will be doing their students a great disservice. Combining the use of technology with both modern and traditional teaching methods (blended learning) is imperative. Service Learning utilizes technology as a tool to help learning throughout the five stages- Investigation, Planning and preparation, Action, and Demonstration and Communication.
- Real world application
This is where service learning comes to the fore. The goal of service learning is to push the role of learning past the classroom and into the local community and the world at large.
Community service for learners is not a new, assisting the community is part of some school and tertiary offerings, and usually learners volunteer and count hours, the needs are not identified and learning is not a focus. However, with service learning, the concept goes beyond the simple ‘helping out’ or ‘volunteering’ concept of community service.
Service learning entails the creative integration of academic concepts and content in a specific subject/s, and practical application of ‘Action’ in the real world, in order to consolidate the academic theory and meet a need that is identified with the community. On top of the obvious learning benefits, the community and the learners and educators are all enriched through the experience.
Service-learning initiatives are also a lesson in time management, and useful outcomes. The learner realizes early on that what they learn in the classroom has a powerful and beneficial impact in the ‘real’ world.
The future of pedagogy in education
The world has changed dramatically in the last 100 years, and the teaching practices of the past have had to change radically in order to keep up and serve the citizens of the future.
Changes include strong generational changes, diverse modern family types, population migrations, more educated parents, mothers with strong career commitments as well as home commitments, health concerns such as the rise of obesity in children, technological trends and access, the lack of privacy due to technology, the economic shift from local resources to global knowledge economies, shifting models of economy and employment, population diversity, global warming and sustainability issues, we must not forget to mention the wonderful educational research and data on learners and learning by thought leaders such as John Hattie’s Visible Learning. Collective efficacy has the greatest impact on learning. As educators we need to know and implement all of the influences that improve learning and have the greatest effect size.
These are the tip of the iceberg of the many changes that have and are currently taking place to improve learning for all learners.
As an educator today we must constantly refine and adapt our teaching to
all learners. We need to help students navigate their own learning to know what they are learning, and why, and to know what to do next, or who to ask for help to develop self-efficacy. Our passion and expertise is incredibly powerful, and must continue to help inspire our learners.
Gone are the days of working in isolation as a teacher, communication and collaboration and working together to ‘know thy impact’ are key to improving learning for collective efficacy. Student centered coaching is one of the best ways to collect and analyze learning together and should be part of all school cultures.
Designing pedagogies that produce meaningful learning through educational concepts, competencies, content, evaluation, learning and teaching practices is paramount.
The impact of Inquiry-Based Learning
“Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.” This saying has been attributed to both Confucius and Benjamin Franklin. Ownership of the saying aside, it is an excellent way in which to understand the value of inquiry based learning.
Inquiry-based learning concepts combine particularly well within a service learning approach. This is a more open-ended approach to learning that is guided by student curiosity, questioning, research, and problem-solving.
It makes sense that concept inquiry-based learning has been proven to nurture more passion, motivation and engagement. It makes learning more meaningful when students take ownership of their learning outcomes, whilst being empowered. Inquiry based learning moves the classroom of today forward by aiming to solve the problems of tomorrow, now.
Tara brings passion and a deep understanding of service learning, rooted in years of experience, to her training. Her training builds bridges from theory to implementation while generously sharing her resources and knowledge to ensure our success. Tara works with the whole school (administration, teachers, students, and SL leaders) to build a sustainable program that is embedded in the curriculum and tied to the mission. She energized a faculty on a Friday afternoon, no easy feat, leaving them with a desire to learn more about SL and to become more involved. I cannot recommend Tara highly enough.