link: teacher training


                                                   PERSONAL MATURITY

theme: Effectiveness of learning depends not only on the theoretical concept of knowledge or 'paradigm' but also on the teacher's personal qualities and attitudes which can enhance or inhibit learning depending on whether they are positive or negative i.e. 'attributes'. The facilitative teacher fosters a supportive emotional climate as well as a challenging intellectual environment. The training of teachers must provide conditions for personal development as well as training for 'teaching techniques'.

"The teacher in the new role realizes that knowledge is all around us, overwhelming in its diversity and oppressive in its insistent challenge to our beliefs; that to live in this age is to be always learning - which also means clearing the mind of obsolete ideas... and to help people accomodate to that fact; that the task is to be a mediator in the encounter between the individual and the mass of information, factual, conjectural and mythological which daily threatens to engulf him, an encounter in which selection and use of knowledge becomes more important than its absorption.... The teacher's responsibility goes far beyond the transmission of knowledge... (to) teaching how knowledge can be sought, validated, assimilated and used as a basis for further learning, for forming and modifying goals and ideas, and for rational decision making. He(she) is not so much a source or a purveyor as a guide to sources, an organizer of opportunities and an instructor in the techniques of inquiry and thought. His (her) knowledge is not an ingredient in the student's educaton, to be consumed and used up, a catalyst promoting the reactions of learning and growth as a result of the encounter between human capabiities and increasing knowledge." (Norman Goble. The Changing Role of the Teacher. Paris, France: UNESCO 1977 p. 56)  

Concept of knowledge in the traditional or 'behavioural' 'paradigm'. The traditional teaching paradigm is based on a static perception of knowledge in terms of its potential for replication and subsequent possession and consumption. In this sense knowledge is presented as an unchanging and quantitatively measurable 'ingredient' of education which the learner must possess in order to replicate it later. Possession of such knowledge depends on conditioned learning or 'conditioning'. Conditioned learning depends on memorization by 'rote'. It is this static perception of knowledge which has a malignant effect on the role of the teacher and teacher training. In the traditional paradigm teacher training is a matter of training teachers to perform highly exclusive and acquired skills or so-called 'teaching techniques'. Rote learning does not necessarily provide for accuracy of evaluation and social adaptation or 'adaptability'.

There is a shift of emphasis from teacher control and teaching techniques to the learning process and learner interest. 

The cognitive or 'holistic' paradigm is  based on enlightened perception of knowledge as 'process' 'Real knowledge' - knowledge based on inquiry and reason - 'scientific' knowledge - cannot be possessed. Real knowledge is constantly changing and elusive and therefore infinite. Knowledge is a 'catalyst' which stimulates learning and growth. The symbolic communication or 'teaching' of knowledge has to be constantly enriched in order to accomodate new observations, new perceptions and new realities. Consequently, the teacher as communicator of knowledge has a social responsibility to teach in the context of knowledge as a process involving research, verification, validation and application resulting in the modification of old ideas, the creation of new ones, and its potential for the accomplishment of beneficial change. This enlightened perception of knowledge has an effect which transforms the role of the teacher and the aim of teacher training. In the new teaching paradigm, the techniques of teaching are only secondary in importance to the process of learning.

A more learner-centred communicative approach emphasizes initiative and  encourages the learner's natural capacities for self-initiated learning.

"To be effective, teaching methods must imply a profound trust in the human organism to develop his own potentiality" (Carl Rogers).

Emphasis on learner initiative The emphasis on learner initiative results in a more enlightened approach to the question of how best to train new teachers. A person who 'teaches' is in fact only one of the many people who are in a position to influence other people to 'learn'. The well trained teacher must be able to express a personal understanding of their subject and how it relates to other areas. In addition to their knowledge and skill, teachers must have the personal and social qualities which provide them with a shrewd practical awareness. They must be critically and sensitively involved. The sensitive teacher is responsible for understanding each learner in terms of their own social context. Learners' perceptions must be understood in order to respond appropriately to their interests and needs at various stages of their personal development. The teacher's  highest priority is the learner's highest development... 'self-actualisation'.

The successful teacher is able to live in the realm of the highest human values i.e. spiritual values or 'metaneeds'. .

Teacher attitudes or attributes facilitate learning because they are processed subconsciously by the brain An important aspect of effective teacher training is the cultivation of personal qualities and positive attitudes or 'attributes'. Teacher attributes include characteristics of personal maturity or 'social intelligence'. Social intelligence is based on qualities of personal integrity or congruence between the internal and the external person i.e. 'personality congruence'. The qualities of personality congruence preserve the social interconnectedness upon which real learning depends. Real learning depends on the use of accurate or 'functional language' of authentic dialogue to express genuine feelings and authentic thought. The congruent personality projects a genuine concern or 'unconditional positive regard' towards others, is able to understand the nature of learners' perspectives, to respond to their feeling states and accomodate their needs with 'empathic understanding'. A teacher with these attributes has the powerful effect of commanding respect and admiration while building confidence, generating trust and affection while and stimulating self-initiated learning, using mature judgement in the application of teaching techniques - pedagogical methods, lessons, curricula, textbooks, materials and so on.

The teacher of mature social judgement understands how each learner functions in a complex social context which is different from the others. The understanding of learner differences allows for flexibility which reduces the stress level on the learners as well as the teacher. The flexible teacher is able to alter and modify teaching techniques to accomodate the differences in learner interests and needs. Alterations and modifications are appropriately made to suit the age and stage of development of learners at different levels. The style of teaching accomodates the brain's instinctive drive to relate to others and encourages the social interaction which is crucial to effective learning. This is how the teacher can stimulate interest and motivation and build learner confidence which is the basis for effective learning.

 "...the thing we should cultivate in our teachers is more the spirit than the mechanical skill of the scientist... the direction of the preparation should be towards the spirit rather than towards the mechanisms." (Maria Montessori Montessori Method 8-9)

Teacher education for personality growth and development Positive teacher attributes are initially developed during the early formative years of life (moral education and 'sociocognitive stages'). They can be acquired later through a psychological and spiritual healing process of the  Eastern psychologies or 'consciousness disciplines' i.e.'transpersonal psychotherapy'.  Effective training involves the liberation from any subtle conditioning a influences of home or school education which might have thwarted or deformed their own personality development. In addition to the process of 'deconditioning' it includes reflection on the personal deeper meanings or 'motivations', the discovery of personal limitations and the desire to move beyond them.

There is one main condition which provides for the supply of stable and balanced individuals who are able to carry out the responsibilities of teaching... that is governmental policies and cultural support for education which is meaningful because it fosters personal growth and development.

Education for personality and character development produces the positive human attributes upon which effective teaching depends.

The threat of having to meet specified outcomes The effectiveness of teachers depends on their competence as 'facilitators of learning'. The function of the facilitative teacher is to orchestrate complex 'real life' learning environments which are emotionally supportive and intellectually challenging. Emphasis on facts and outcomes may constitute a threat and thus prevent real understanding and real learning. Friendship and companionship contribute to the learner's sense of safety and security. An ongoing friendliness between teacher and learner enhances learning. The emphasis on facts and outcomes may prevent real understanding and the transfer of learning.

The ideal learning environment is one in which there is mutual respect, realistic perceptions and 'free use of creative energies' or 'freedom'.

Teaching in the context of freedom  In a social context of freedom, everyone is both learner and teacher. Learners teach each other, they teach the teacher and teachers and parents work together to enhance both teaching and learning. Learners discern the inner states of the teacher's personality. Teacher characteristics which facilitate learning are processed subconsciously by the brain as peripheral stimuli. The brain's subconscious processing is an important factor in the design of the learning environment and learner activities i.e. 'lesson plans'. An important goal in the design of learner activities or 'lesson plans' is design of the learning environment. Effective planning focuses on the creation of learning experiences in the 'here and now'. This eliminates the threat of having to accomplish set goals or 'outcomes of learning' to be evaluated and rewarded by system of 'grades'. The expected outcomes are goals that guide the lesson. The direction of further learning is determined by the learning itself or 'learner feedback'.and 'self-evaluation'. In this non-threatening climate learning becomes an expansion of knowledge for both learner and teacher.

 In the non-threatening climate of facilitated teaching, learning becomes an expansion of knowledge for both learner and teacher rather than the accomplishment of goals to be evaluated and rewarded (extrinsic motivation).

 "The secret of good teaching is to regard the child's intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be grown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Our aim is not to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorise, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his inmost core....we seek to help the child in his growth, mental and emotional as well as physical." (Maria Montessori. To Educate the Human Potential.Adyar, Madras, India: Kalakshetra Publications, 1961. p. 15)

Meaningful lessons are planned in terms of learning experiences which engage the learner's intrinsic motivation and stimulate self-initiated learning.

 PEDAGOGY... PRINCIPLES OF PEDAGOGY see Caine Principles... 'principles'

 "Is there some sense in which principles of pedagogy can be derived from our knowledge of man as a species - from knowledge of his characteristic growth and dependence, of the properties of his nervous system, of his modes of dealing with culture?" (Jerome Bruner, 1971, Relevance of Education 118)

 Pedagogy: the art, practice or profession of teaching; esp. systematized learning or instruction concerning principles and methods of teaching.

Implications for education  Successful teacher training promotes the cultivation of teacher attributes which facilitate the activation of the natural functions of the brain - comparing, patterning and categorizing i.e. optimal learning or 'optimalearning'. Optimal learning or 'global learning' involves the global functioning of the 'brain' as organ of learning.  The brain processes information on both conscious and unconscious levels of information processing. The subconscious processing of positive teacher attributes can have an enhancing effect on the brain's natural capacity for making connections and bringing about effective learning. ___________________________________________________________________________