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Understanding the Learning and Teaching Process – Continuing the Voyage of Discovery

The London School of Management Education (LSME) which has its campus in Barking, East London, is a premier teacher training College. It offers the Pearson BTEC Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training. These series of articles by LSME on ‘Understanding the Learning and Teaching Process’ seeks to highlight the skills and knowledge required to become a good teacher. These articles are based on some important concepts that were presented by Professor Peter Jarvis in his keynote address at the International Conference on Quality Management in Education organised by LSME in January 2015.

The previous article on Understanding the Learning and Teaching Process raised some important elements for consideration in the design of teaching and learning. These elements are: taken-for-grantedness, disjuncture, experience, reflection/thought, emotion, action, and integration into the biography.

Taking things for granted and disjuncture were discussed in the previous article as a process of getting students to move from a situation where they take their world for granted to one in which they begin to question their construction of social reality. This article expands on three elements beginning with experience.

Having an experience is at the heart of learning. Students do not learn from what they are told. They learn from their experience of what is told to them, or what they read, and so on. Experiences can be primary or secondary. The primary experiences are ones where they have first hand experiences, for example, the experience of touch, smell, taste, feel and so on. These days, in many developing and developed countries, the possibility of providing students with virtual experiences exists and these experiences can be provided through various forms of simulation. These experiences are referred to as ‘artificial primary experiences’. But secondary experiences are mediated. – we mediate knowledge through what we tell students, what we write and through visual images of television and film. All theory is secondary experience. Most of our understanding of the world is mediated knowledge – secondary experience. It is our job to ensure that the students have the type of experience that we want them to have and plan our teaching material accordingly.

The next element raised is reflection or thought. This is the cognitive dimension of learning followed by thinking and then thinking again. There are many forms of reflection/ thought. These include: Memorising and Interpreting, Creative and Critical Thought, Problem-solving and decision making, Directed and Undirected, as well as Deductive and Inductive Reasoning. At the same time, there is another aspect to this reflective dimension where we learn our attitudes, beliefs and values in this same process but often we are unaware that this is occurring. We should design Learning and Teaching to employ all forms of thought.

Another element, emotion, is complex, since it is the person whose emotions transform the experience and this can vary from person to person. However, it is necessary to explore the types of experience that generate an emotional response. The functional ones relate to our human needs for bonding, self-worth, beauty, harmony with the world, and so on. The dysfunctional emotions revolve around our sense of self, and in this case self-esteem, as well as the envy of others’ abilities and skills. Dysfunctional emotions may threaten the self-confidence of an individual. Profound emotions may also emerge from situations that often lead to contemplative thought. This may occur when the situation or event that is experienced is beyond our immediate understanding or beyond explanation. It is for these reasons that we should try to incorporate emotions into our learning design.

This is why classroom teaching and learning should be a voyage of discovery. Why not visit LSME to find out how you could gain the skills and knowledge to take you students on a voyage of discovery. Go to www.lsme.ac.uk to find out more.

Do you aspire to teach? Find out how you may benefit from the Pearson BTEC Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training by visiting the London School of Management Education to find out more about how this qualification could meet your aspirations.