I just got back from Brazil last Thursday and I had such an enJOYable time with my family! I feel recharged and ready for my new personal and professional endeavors. I’m now in New York and I’ll work at the E.F Academy managing 1200 international students from 8-18 years old that are coming to the US to spend three weeks. Then, I just accepted a full-time position at Renton Technical College in Renton, WA as an English as a Second Language (ESL) Instructor, and I start in my new position in September. I’m very happy about all these new opportunities to use all I’ve learned in my EDU 510 and EDU 515.
EDU 510 was the first module in my Master course to discuss my core learning interest. I have a B.A. in Education and Language Teaching and cognitive science theories are like “letter soup” for me. I could have it from breakfast to supper.
We started the module contrasting differences between Pedagogy and Andragogy. Knowles (1980) in a simple way, defines Andragogy as “the art and science of helping adults learn” and Pedagogy as “the art and science of teaching children”. Yes, as simple as that! When I graduated from college in 1998, the term Andragogy was not popular and in fact, I just learned more about it in this class. Understanding the difference between teaching children and adults is very important. There are lots of theories focusing on pedagogy, but not many in Andragogy. I teach (ESL) for adults, therefore, studying this topic has helped me improve my professional skills. According to Knowles (1980), adults are more self-directed, have a reservoir of experiences in their favor, are more problem-centered, and are more motivated to learn by internal, rather than external factors. Understanding these differences and finding methodologies and approaches specific for adult learning will be mandatory in my profession.
In our second week we discussed mental representations such as logic, rules and concepts. That was a challenging week because understanding how “we think” is not an easy task. “The central hypothesis of cognitive science is that thinking can be better understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures” (Stanford Encyclopedia, n.d.). After studying these “concepts” in week two, I got to the conclusion that teaching children and adults has a big difference once children will not have the cultural background an adult has. According to Piaget, it is not until age 11 that children are able to use logic to solve problems, view the world around them, and plan for the future. I honest think I have to study mental representations further so I’m well prepared to help my students. I’ll definitely dedicate some more time reading about it.
In week four, we were introduced to the delightful book written by Perkins (2009), Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education. In the book, Perkins makes an analogy mainly of a baseball match, its techniques and secrets compared to the process of teaching and learning. When playing any game, you have to be aware not only of what is going on during the game but also before and after it. You have to know yourself, the competitors, the rules, the “hidden rules”, anticipate the “hard-parts” so you can win the game. Perkins’s book is inspiring and I’ll go back to it whenever I need to find answers to my practice or a refresher.
Another aspect I loved about this class is that we discussed some of my favorite theorists such as Vygotsky, Piaget and Bronfenbrenner. Vygotsky, Piaget, Dewey and Paulo Freire are very well known by educators in Brazil, I had never heard about Bronfenbrenner until I taught an Early Childhood Education class last year. According to Bronfenbrenner person's development is affected by their surrounding environment, divided into five different levels: the microsystem, the mesosystem, the exosystem, the macrosystem, and the chronosystem. “Species Homo sapiens appears to be unique in its capacity to adapt to, tolerate, and especially to create the ecologies in which it lives and grows” (Bronfenbrenner, 1994). Based on that, as an instructor, we should dedicate some time to know our students and understand the environments they are coming from. This would help us find effective strategies to teach our students.
This is week seven and we are just discussing Illusions. “Our perception is created by our brain's interpretation of visual information and our mind gets ‘actively’ involved in interpreting the perceptual input rather than passively recording the input” (World Mysteries, 2011). Mirage and anti-solar rays are examples of illusions that could be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses. We had delightful discussions on childhood memories and illusions.
The last topic discussed this week was Dynamic systems. Dynamic is characterized by constant changes. Therefore, dynamic learning system may involve situations that can change the way of the mind, and also how the body react/adapt or process information as they work together within certain scenarios (Harman, 2012).
Well, we were exposed to several new concepts that enriched our course. I intend to start an "observation journal" in which I will report what I observe from my students when they are learning. I’ll work on correlating theories to practice. I would like to be able to anticipate the “hard parts”. I also want to spend more time teaching my students how to learn, how to be independent by helping them reflect about their learning process.
How Smart Are you?
Bronfenbrenner’s Microsystems and Mesosystems (n.d.). Retrieved 8/4p/2016 from: http://www.vvc.edu/academic/child_development/droege/ht/course2/faculty/lecture
Harman, A. (n.d). A dynamic systems approach: A revolutionary perspective on childhood development theory. Retrieved October 10, 2012, from http://www.unfetteredmovement.org/resources/articles/a-dynamic-systems-approach-a-a-revolutionary-perspective-on-childhood-development-thoery/.
Pappas, C. (2013, May 9). The Adult Learning Theory - Andragogy - of Malcolm Knowles. E-Learning Industry. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/the-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles
Perkins, D. N., & ebrary, I. (2009). Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education. San Francisco, Calif: Jossey-Bass.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Cognitive Science (Sections 4.1, 4.2, 4.3). Stanford Website. Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cognitive-science/
This week is a very special week for me because I’m here in Brazil, visiting my mom and enJOYing my family. It was a surprise trip and I got their reactions on tape when they saw me getting to their houses. Love and emotion is everything!
By the way, emotion is one of the topics we studied these past two weeks. We discussed how it influences our learning process, and I believe that emotion is the number one aspect influencing one’s learning. Demetriou & Wilson (2008) states that from early on our emotional development is inextricably intertwined with our acquisition of knowledge (p. 938). Social interaction, class community, student-centered approach, games, projects all make the learning experience meaningful to students. Our reading material for these weeks included David Perkins, a noted authority on teaching and learning and co-director of Harvard's Project Zero who introduces a practical and research-based framework for teaching. He describes how teaching any subject at any level can be made more effective if students are introduced to the "whole game," rather than isolated pieces of a discipline (Wiley, 2009). Perkins (2009) discusses strategies to teach the “hard parts”. He notes that the first time you try to teach anything, teaching smart is almost never smart enough. One just does not know enough initially about what the parts are going to be like. (p. 104). Being aware of the learning process is important to anticipate and teach the hard parts, and at this task, experience comes handy. Elicitation, imaginary, brainstorming and visual aids are key, especially in my field, ESL classes. Extensive practice, whole play and games are also useful techniques to internalization and externalization of content learned.
We also talked about motivation and engagement. Motivation is not only important for students, but also instructor, and research has demonstrated that engaging students in the learning process increases their attention and focus, motivates them to practice higher-level critical thinking skills and promotes meaningful learning experiences. Instructors should adopt student-centered activities and provide plenty of opportunities for engagement. People’s feeling of a real commitment to what they have learned is very important (Perkins, 2009).
We also discussed intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by internal rewards, that is, what we do simply because we like doing it. Extrinsic motivation is doing something for external rewards or to avoid negative consequences. Rewarding for me is when I convert my students’ extrinsic motivation to intrinsic. What starts as an obligation turning into something pleasurable that they want to do.
How Emotions Impact Learning
Demetriou, H., Wilson, E. (2008). A return to the use of emotion and reflection. Teach
and Learn. Vol 21, no 11. Retrieved from www.thepsychologist.org.uk
Engaging students in learning (n.d.). University of Washington Website. Retrieved
Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education
Perkins, D. N., & February, I. (2009). Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of
Teaching Can Transform Education. San Francisco, Calif: Jossey-Bass.
Hi. I'm Raquel Poteet, an ESL and Spanish teacher. My calling is definitely teaching. That's why I decided to further my education. I'm enrolled in my TESOL M. Ed. program at Post University and loving it!