A model research project may begin: In the field of pedagogy, there are numerous teaching methods that can be employed. A teaching method ultimately is nothing more than the method by which information is imparted to the students. Traditionally, there was only one teaching method: lecture. However, the Socratic Method, whereby questions are raised and explored, has also been used throughout the centuries. In the 21st century, however, these teaching methods have proven to be inadequate for the demands of modern education.
In a classroom in which every lesson plans seeks to educate the whole child, there will invariably be tasks that children perform well and others that children find difficult. Given this reality, portfolios give students the opportunity to showcase some of their best work, demonstrating what they have learned over the course of several weeks. Although students may be resultant to include activities that they did not successfully complete, this information should also be included as a means for the instructor to understand that the student is at least making an attempt to challenge themselves.
Seeking Out New Teaching Methods
The adage in education today is that the teacher needs to be a guide by the side of the student, and not the sage on the stage. Newer teaching methods demonstrate this. Examples of a few of these more progressive teaching methods are:
Using examples and experiments in the classroom demonstrated the teaching method of demonstration. Demonstration can be a valid starting point for hands-on instruction. Demonstration as a teaching method is far superior to memorization, because the students are better able to participate in the instructional process.
For the educator, this means finding new methods for developing lessons and instructional materials. This may mean that instead of simply utilizing the material provided by the school district, teachers may have to “think outside of the box” and come up with some creative tools of their own. To illustrate this pint consider a lesson on state capitols. The district typically provides teachers with lists of such information that can be passed out to students for memorization. Teachers may spend 20 minutes a day for a week reviewing the list and the test students on their retention. To make this exercise more palatable to learners whose predominant intelligence is musical ability, teachers may wish consider writing a song that incorporates the names of the states and their capitols. This does not have to be an original work, merely something that works to include all of the assigned material. Instead of simply reading the list each day students could sing the “state capitol song.” Even for those whose abilities do not lie in the realm of music, this lesson would stand as a change from the normal “nut and bolts” of traditional educational pedagogy. Although this example may seem somewhat pedantic, it is just one step that educators can take in adhering to the larger framework of the education of the whole child.
New Teaching Paradigms vs. Older Teaching Methods
Collaborative learning is another popular and effective teaching method. Under a collaborative system, the teacher works with the students in smaller groups so that the students are able to interact both with the material and with peers to uncover information. Retention of any material will be greater when leadership skills, team work and presentation of material to a larger group are employed.
Despite the obvious lack of widespread acceptance of new teaching paradigms in the United States as a whole, there have invariably been a few new ideas that have taken hold and proven quite useful in the student/classroom dichotomy. Among the most notable is Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner believed that each child possessed seven unique intelligences to some degree. He further argued that most students had a predominant method for learning and that in most instances, traditional classroom pedagogies did not reflect the broad scope of abilities represented in the classroom population.
You can please all of the people some of the time or some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time. In many respects this anecdote can be applied to education. You can teach some of the students all of the time and all of the students some of the time, but you cannot teach all of the student all of the time. Although the latter statement is the ideal, it is often not reality. Therefore educators must do what they can to ensure that most of the students are learning most of the time. In addition, educators must attempt to judge these students fairly for their efforts. Overall, it seems that the theory of multiple intelligences coupled with portfolios provide a two-step method for teaching across almost every barrier—multicultural considerations, varying degrees of learning abilities and intelligences and physical handicaps. For this reason, professionals need to consider their position on this pedagogy. Although the challenges can be difficult, the rewards are overwhelming.