Saturday, September 17, 2011

Old Entry #17: Whose Ideas I Would Employ for Teaching

Remember the previous entry that was part of the "Old Entries Series"?  The one about counselling and stuff?  This particular article I'm featuring was written four days after that.

It's quite long.  Read only if it interests you.  If not, I don't really mind.  I'm simply posting this for educational purposes.  However, please don't copy-paste it and tell your professor you wrote it.  Aside from the fact that you're gonna get into serious trouble with him/her, I will personally hunt you down and amputate your middle finger if you do.

Naaah... Of course, I won't do that.  I'll just hex you.  Seriously, I will hex you if you plagiarize this!

Enjoy reading!

This was written on June 18, 2008 as a college essay in psychology.


B.F. Skinner
Erik Erikson
Ivan Pavlov
Jean Piaget 
John B. Watson 
Lawrence Kohlberg
Sigmund Freud

Whose Ideas I Would Employ for Teaching
by Ludwig Bon Quirog
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

As much as the psychologists in our discipline are counselors, they are also teachers.  They are among the most influential forefront innovators in the art and science of academic teaching.  Now, let us suppose that I am a university teacher handling a class of 30 students.  Three-quarters of the said group seems to be a bunch of incorrigible ne’er-do-wells.  As a psychology teacher, I know it would be very unbecoming for me to just give up on my students.  Thus, I now find myself in a situation that has me looking for a viable course of action – with regard to teaching, of course.  I am looking into the styles and track records of the psychologists in subject so that I may derive a teaching strategy that I could credit to them.

Let us consider the fact that these people on the fore are not your average educators.  They are world-renowned scientists who have molded the way modern people think today.  These men are the blacksmiths who have forged casts in the field of psychology.  So it would do me good to approach this endeavor with extra care, lest be down-casted in the mold of confusion.  That would not be good for me as a teacher and it would certainly not be good for my students.

Basically here, all we could do is make suppositions as to how their profiles could be interpreted into possible teaching schemes.  To kick off, let us all go to Switzerland and explore the possibility of deriving something nifty from the bricks with which Jean Piaget had built his tower of legacy.  This developmental psychologist had conceived what has come to be known as practically the most well-defined chart on keeping track of a child’s growth.  And based on that, we could infer that this fiasco of boisterousness is caused by the students’ difficulty in transiting between the concrete operational to the formal operational stage, and then being shoved hastily into adulthood by a demanding cultural environment.

With that having been established, I would say the best Piagetan way to deal with this predicament is by making subtle efforts to rouse awareness of their problem without having to subject them to embarrassment.  And then, when progress is observed in this regard, I should, in a subliminal way, cater to these gaps in effort to fill them up with what they lack.  For example, if most of my students are observed to have the problem of ensuing utter chaos due to simple arguments, I would simply devise strategies that would allow each one to present his/her opinion to the fore and I would teach them how to have a civilized debate over it without any chaotic fallouts.

Moving on, let us take a look at what Lawrence Kohlberg has to offer us.  This American Harvard professor, influenced by Immanuel Kant and Piaget, tells us that moral reasoning, which is the basis for ethical behavior, has six identifiable developmental constructive stages—each more adequate at responding to moral dilemmas than the last.  This basically adopts the same line of thinking that Piaget proliferates.  The notable difference is that Kohlberg stresses more on morality as the core—the main drive.  And since my students are particularly restless in terms of defending their personal opinions, I would presume they have had an inconsistency in developing pre-conventional morality during such stage.  They have not been able to transcend its second sub-stage which is self-interest orientation; fearing the loss of voice when they do not feel that they have vindicated themselves.  Moreover, they have also possibly undergone an exposure to the conventional stage’s authority and social-order maintaining orientation sub-stage.  Thus, they feel the need to exert effort in insistence in order to “straighten things out”.

A tactical solution based on my interpretation of Kohlberg’s definitions would go this way:  I would delicately introduce them to their problem.  Following my success of doing so, I would initiate a conformist attitude in them.  I see that as a formidable task since they already display an obviously rebellious mind-set.  Nevertheless, I would try my best in the event that I do decide to use my interpretation of Kohlberg’s technique.

Next we have Erik Erikson and his theories on ego-founded psychosocial development.  We best know this psychologist for his notable use of the word versus in pitting what he believed to be positive courses against what was otherwise not.  According to his written theories, there are eight stages in this overall development process.  Let us now analyze what dilemma our student dud might fall under.  I would say that it is stagnation on the stage of what Erikson calls the school age, which is from ages seven through ten years.  Here, the unresolved psychosocial crisis is “industry vs. inferiority” wherein our subjects constantly ask themselves if they are worth something brought about by what they do.  That is the reason why they very rowdily riot over simple disputes.  They want to preserve their personal sense of being worth something.  The feeling of inferiority kicks in when they feel that they have not done their part adequately.  That it most likely the reason why they could not care less how much brouhaha ensues just as long as they try to make their stand win.

I shall now devise a probable scheme out of this analysis.  Indeed, it is quite disconcerting, at this point, what method to employ.  The problem still has a vague aspect to it and may need further looking into.  Even so, here is an idea that I would have to bend for:  I would have to teach them how to accept mistakes and treat them as learning experiences rather than causes for depression.  Each sensible opinion is never completely wrong.  So, if it is found to be ultimately far-fetched, I should highlight the good points in them to avoid making them feel ignored.  I have to be fair and apply this tactic to the rest of the class.  I should make them learn to avoid reviling themselves when they commit mistakes.  Additionally, I should also teach them the value of submission.  When something is right, the others have to give in to it.  And if opinions are the issue, everyone deserves to be heard.  Everyone’s opinion matters.

As for Sigmund Freud’s theory on the human psyche’s sexual basis of action and living, I would be using a very arousing and very mentally stimulating scheme.  That is: to constantly tackle on adolescent issues to catch their attention and keep them from falling out into unnecessary outbursts.  Subject such as teenage relationships, sexuality and contemporary interests would fuel an active discussion when inserted randomly into topics.  Most likely, the students would feel more inclined to participate since these are matters that they could relate to.  If I teach theories, I should visualize its application to any of the issues that would catch their collective interest.

The Freudan perspective presents a broad list of choices regarding what modus operandi to make use of in different dire situations.  They all have one thing in common.  That is to ensure a stimulating effect on a subject.  In addition to more brain activity, lively discussions about things students could relate to would mean that such things would easily be imprinted in their minds.  They would begin to see things in a different light.  Things would shape up around them and they would be viewing things from a first-hand perspective.  Rather than adopt textbook-based ideas, they would be more apt at drawing their own line of thinking since they now have something more viable to work with.  They develop their own space and that is what matters in learning.

Let us now continue with Ivan Pavlov, this time.  As we all know, he defined classical conditioning.  Essentially, his philosophy bears the same gist are Frederic Skinner’s and John Watson’s.  The only difference is that his ideas are more sophisticated than his predecessors’.  Behaviorism and radical behaviorism have evolved into a more concrete manifestation.

This theory of Pavlov is the most comprehensible among all those I’ve mentioned earlier.  It requires lesser analysis.  It has become a very popular training method all over the world.  It is very widely used in all seven continents.  It is regarded as the most successful method of teaching.  That’s only the pro part.  The con here is that the scheme is most widely used for training show dogs.  However, let us not condemn his method.  Surprisingly, it is also humanely applicable to humans—especially for cases like ours here.  In a class overrun by human beings with demeanor akin to that of marsupials, desperate measures could be considered.  Since we human beings all have reflexes, the reflexes of our subjects could be studied collectively.  Once determined, I will then posit various stimuli until I get the desired positive response.  If I encourage them all to speak out whenever matters seem vague, they would obviously be elated.  However, if I force them to say something about things that are of no interest to them, that is another story.

Here is the scheme.  I will present standards for them to abide by.  I shall establish signals as to when and when not they are permitted to argue.  Ones who present good arguments to the fore will be rewarded accordingly.  Others will receive their deserved merits.  On the other hand, if I have disallowed them from doing so at a certain moment and they violate the rule, they shall be given sanction.  They will have to endure a well-deserved consequence.  I see this as a very viable scheme for straightening out students.  It’s not that I am going to regard them inhumanly.  This would be akin to toilet training for babies.  If they use the toilet, they would be rewarded the comfort of “letting go”.  In addition, they get a complementary cone of ice cream.  Otherwise, they would have to suffer the discomfort of having saggy, squishy, smelly stuff in their rear ends.

As for the answer to the question on whose derived technique I would pick, I would choose three.  I would use a combination of Pavlov’s, Freud’s and Erikson’s.  As much as I would employ technical strategies like setting rules and dishing out punishment to violators, I would also like to make them feel the essence of the things they are being made to do.  At the same time, I would like my students to enjoy what they are doing to ensure that they learn something and that they not only perform well at my class but in other endeavors as well.

This is more of a “conditioning with guidance and fun” approach.  It is more fulfilling for me and at the same time beneficial to my students.  This is my ideal teacher and I would like to become my ideal teacher.  Would you not?  My principle is that one should make an effort to achieve the best.  Getting there is the fun part.