Philip Baron’s Paper Proposal

A quantitative examination of two different teaching paradigms in pre-school instruction.

Paper topic: 5. Education and conversation; 9. Social sciences; 3. Constructivism
A study is proposed on the efficacy of two different teaching styles in the pre-school environment. The purpose of this study is to determine if a costly media-centric cybernetic approach to pre-school tuition is an improvement over the traditional teaching approach. The demographic for this study are pre-schoolers aged 3-6 years comprising of a multi-cultural group in a South African Johannesburg based pre-school.
The first teaching style adheres to the traditional teaching methods, whereby the teacher presents the theme work relying on books and verbal instructions to the children. The children are passive participants in this system. The teacher presents the work to the children from the theme book, while the children listen and may ask questions at any time. The teacher “teaches” the children. If questions about the theme work are beyond the scope of the hard copy learning material, an imaginative answer is needed. The second approach relying on a cybernetic epistemology incorporates the children into the tuition system. The children are allowed and encouraged to dynamically adjust the trajectory of the lesson plan. The children generate sub themes of the lesson plan. A media-centric approach is also incorporated in this method to allow for a wider scope of information gathering. For example, in a wildlife themed lesson, the teacher may ask any child what their favourite wild animal is. The response given for example may be a lion. Using this response the teacher then presents information about lions to the children. The children are engaged in the lesson by the teacher constantly empowering the children to make decisions and lead the learning by perturbing the group with enticing questions: “Who wants to hear a lions roar?” Now the teacher quickly locates this sound stream and plays it to the children. For each explanation, visual/auditory proof must be presented to the children allowing them to see/hear and experience in the here and now for themselves what it is that the teacher or other children are referring to. One child may say “when I was in the game park, we saw hyenas”. Now the teacher uses this as an opening for the next sub theme. The teacher may ask “do you all know what a hyena looks like?” Following this question, the children are shown actual real life pictures of hyenas and their habitat with contextual information provided as part of the revised lesson. The lesson changes dynamically by incorporating the responses of each child. The child and teacher are now both leaders in the tuition system. The traditional teacher role is adjusted to be one of specialist information gatherer and presenter.
The efficacy of the two methods are qualitatively examined by testing the children’s recall memory at specific intervals after the lesson for each teaching method. The results are to be compared using a t-test and Pearson (r) correlation statistic.

Cybernetic traditions:

  • 5) Education and conversation
  • 9) Social sciences

4 thoughts on “Philip Baron’s Paper Proposal

  1. Michael Hohl

    I think this is a highly relevant debate from a ’21st century skills’ perspective. What skills do young people need to learn to be prepared for a dynamic, continuously changing, globalised society?
    Different teaching styles are also being discussed in Tony Wagner’s ‘global achievement gap’ or ‘Teaching and Learning 21st century Skills: Lessons from the Learning Sciences’. There are several more texts that address this. What i find interesting is that they all seem to incorporate constructivist ideas.

  2. Pille

    Hi Philip,
    I’m interested in hearing how you discriminate the factor of engagement with the students in style 2 (in contrast to style 1 of teaching at them) from the use of media.

    1. Philipb

      Hi Pille, thanks for your comment.
      I think in the traditional format its teacher here, children there. In the second style, its collaborative with both having equal weight but differing roles. The children are engaged to lead by way of what is interesting to them. The teacher then wears the hat of of information presenter. The children are treated as explorers. The teacher acts as a chicane not inhibiting, but gently edging the topic on by asking questions that are interesting to the children. The teachers curriculum is dynamic and malleable, while in the first instance the teachers curriculum is set before time.

      The second form of engagement follows some guidelines: 1. Teachers need to be adaptable to change their lesson on the fly. Teachers take responsibility for making the lessons interesting but the learning takes place spontaneously. Teachback can be used to ascertain where the group is.

  3. Allan Randall

    It occurs to me that this kind of teaching on the fly would be possible in today’s connected world in a way it would not have been a few years ago. How heavily internet or web based are the methods that you used?

    Do you think the methods would transfer to higher levels of education, or are they restricted to very young children?


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