Teaching is considered both an art and a science. The science of teaching includes philosophy, classroom management, methodologies, techniques, and psychology. The art of teaching encompasses those steps or approaches taken in the day to day classroom, in other words, how students are handled. Students working towards the goal of becoming a teacher, especially as a graduate student, may become overwhelmed at times by the amount of information that is presented.
One must learn the history of education in the United States, the keys to successful classroom management, determine an educational philosophy, the variety of curriculum, the laws that affect teaching and the list continues. I believe it is difficult to determine where the “art” aspect of teaching ends and the “science” aspect begins. While learning more regarding teaching, my favorite quote has become “… the teacher assists the mind to deliver itself the ideas, knowledge, and understanding. ” (Adler, n. d. )Order now
Back in 1640, the Massachusetts Puritans hired the first American teachers to teach the basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills that children would need to serve a democratic society. Over the past 360 years, the art of teaching has taken on much greater significance in our society and has become a great deal more challenging. In public school classrooms across the country you find students who are rich, poor, intellectually gifted, intellectually challenged, physically disabled, frightened, confident, inconsiderate, abused, selfish, compassionate, kind and some striving to learn the English language.
In these same classrooms you will find teachers who serve as wonderful role models for these children. Teachers who consistently work to find the best in each of their students providing love and encouragement while preparing them academically for life in the 21st century. I believe the most important aspect of the science of teaching is classroom management. I once classified it as disciplinary policies or behavior management that was reserved for “putting out the fires” in problem situations, or for dealing with problem students.
I did not truly understand its meaning nor had I seen it play an active role in my experience, so I just assumed that it was something needed only for students exhibiting behavior problems. I did not know the power and influence of management in the classroom. It is more than something reserved for putting out those “fires” that arise in the classroom. It is every preventative teaching discussion you have with your students; it is every moment you take an extra look around the classroom; it is every “I statement” you utter, every procedure reminder, and every physical change you make to the classroom.
It is not just reserved for behavior problems nor is it used just for “problem” students in public school systems. Understanding the philosophical orientations as well as the psychological theories that have influenced teaching philosophies assists in learning the different approaches of teaching. While reviewing these orientations or philosophies it is important to remember that “few teachers follow only one educational philosophy” (Parkay, 2001). The philosophical orientations include essentialism, existentialism, perennialism progressivism, and social reconstructionism.
According to the essentialist theory schools teach students in a systematic and disciplined way a core of “essential” knowledge and skills, while existentialists believe that students should learn what will enable them to “assign meaning to their lives” (Parkay, 2001). Progressivism is the believe that education should be based on the interests and needs of students and perennialist thought is that students should learn the principles or great ides that have endured the test of time.
The final philosophical theory that influences teaching is social Reconstructionism, which takes the view that teachers and schools should lead in creating the world’s societal problems. There are three major psychological orientations that influence teaching and a teacher’s philosophy, humanism, behaviorism, and constructivism. Humanism is the theory that all children are good and that their education should focus on personal freed and individual needs. Behaviorism is that of “careful control of the educational environment” (Parkay, 2001) and using positive or negative reinforcements to get students to behave the correct way.
The last theory is constructivism and states that teachers should know and understand their students’ “understanding” and realize that learning is active and not passive. I believe that a combination of the three would be the most effective way I could teach. All of these theories are relevant and should be applied accordingly. The art of teaching combines experience and belief. It is a comprehensive collaboration of each person’s own educational memories and ideas, which cannot be taught in a textbook. Experienced educators, who know the personal capabilities and developmental level of each student, teach effective lessons.
Through continual reflection upon personal experiences and beliefs, professional development, and teaching methods, the teacher can understand how to best serve the academic, social, and emotional needs of students. I believe there are many factors that have helped to build and shape me as a future educator. One must examine your own educational experiences before you are truly able to discover what teaching means to you. I believe the art of teaching is a part of you, what you experienced, what you believe, and how you envision education.
Our experiences have one of the most influential effects on what it is we believe and practice. Teaching is more than a job you “show up for” nine months out of the year. It is a way of life. The art of teaching cannot be taught in a textbook; it is a comprehensive, relative collaboration of your own educational memories and ideas. While there are centralized concepts relating to teaching as an art or science, such as parent/student/teacher relationships, classroom management, or flexible thinking, none of them can be taught.
They must be experienced, improved upon, and then practiced. I would like to believe that I could create a school without the “hidden rules” of social classes and without the outside factors of political memorandum like No Child Left Behind. I would like to believe that a child could receive the individualized education that he/she needs in order to be a successful life long learner. A child should be educated in a school that will not require him/her to take a state test that does not assess true subject knowledge or present the test material in developmentally appropriate ways.
I would like to believe that we have come a long enough way in education to realize that the idea “no child left behind” must come in a different package for each child. If no child is to be left behind, then each one must be guided along, individually beginning from where they are at the current time, to achieve their individual growth. If students are not able to work independently with reading and writing skills, then No Child Left Behind should allow appropriately modified assessments for those students who do not perform at the same level as their peers.
Servicing every child so as not to leave them behind must be executed with the sensitivity it requires. I would like to believe that such a classroom could exist. Although it can only exist when teachers are allowed to serve the academic, social, and emotional needs of their students through personal understandings and interactions instead of simply using curriculum programs that do not individualize instruction. I imagine myself creating my own school that would address these sensitive issues, but would also change its physical makeup to provide the best comprehensive educational experience possible for each student.
I would schedule the school day with large ‘discovery’ time blocks that would be book-ended with mini lessons. These discovery blocks would serve as time for integrated, student inquiry-based lessons. The teacher would take the role of facilitator, guiding students after first modeling appropriate behavior or expectations, using a combination of direct instruction, cooperative and/or peer teaching. A summary of the lesson would contain a modeled review or a discussion-based mini lesson.
The longer discovery time would allow for a more in-depth study of the material without the constant interruptions of changing subjects or classrooms. The teacher would decide which subject areas would be integrated together each day as every day requires a little different course study than the day before it. As long as each academic area is covered with adequate time, to be determined by the district, then the educator could decide when and how to focus on the different content areas, depending on the preparation and proficiency of their students. As a future educator, my journey is just beginning.
To truly understand the art and science of teaching, one must reflect upon what you were taught, what you have experienced, and what you have become empowered to understand. Teaching is a comprehensive, relative collaboration of your own educational memories and ideas, which never rest, never cease, and never stop changing. This life long skill, reminds me to continue personal development, to seek out different or more effective ways to serve the needs of students, and to always remember that experiences have one of the most influential effects on what it is we believe and practice.