What is Pedagogy?

March 15, 2024

Pedagogy = the method and practices of a teacher. It’s about the ways in which he or she delivers curriculum and thereby promotes knowledge. It’s about teaching style, theories that inform their philosophies, how they give feedback, and how they assess their students. Although its appearance depends on the age of children and classroom study, the meaning of pedagogy remains constant from pre-K throughout college.

The following are different pedagogical approaches that you might hear about in various school tours you attend.

CONSTRUCTIVISM

Also described as a progressive teaching style (as opposed to a traditional style), it focuses on the idea that children are active rather than passive learners. Based on research and ideas of the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget (1896-1980) who studied child development, the operative idea here is that children learn through experiences and reflection. The child is at the center of the learning and project work, play, exploration, and inquiry-based learning are at the heart of the approach. Teachers create activities that facilitate learning and enhance progression. Older children manage more abstract ideas, sometimes through student-led lessons less focused on the teacher, whereas younger learn through play and interaction with the world.

SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIVISM

Social constructivism was developed by the Belarusian cognitive psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who also studied child development, and builds on the work of Jean Piaget. While Vygotsky also placed the child at the center of learning, he believed learning is a collaborative process and he focused on the idea of children and teachers working together to achieve the best outcome. He believed learning can only happen in a social context and placed more emphasis on the role of the teacher as guide. In a constructivist pedagogy, teachers use group work in the classroom and limit groups to smaller sizes. Teachers then use teacher modelling, questioning, and class instruction to engage students in various activities.

BEHAVIORISM

Also known as a traditional teaching approach, here the teacher is at the center of all learning practices including direct instruction and lecture-based lessons. The theory of Behaviorism is derived from pedagogical research by Thorndike (1911), Pavlov (1927) and Skinner (1957).

In education, it places the teacher as the sole authority figure who leads the lessons. Typically, subjects are taught as independent topics, with very little cross pollination or intersection between subjects. This contrasts with topic- or project-based learning which provides students opportunities to explore intersecting subject matter in more depth and make connections between different areas of learning. Practices include lecturing, modelling, and demonstration, and choral repetition. Occasional shifts of power include giving students the opportunity to demonstrate their own learning to the rest of the class.

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