Presentation on theme: "Theories of American Education Dr. Rosalind R. Gann Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction Clemmer College of Education East Tennessee State."— Presentation transcript:
Theories of American Education Dr. Rosalind R. Gann Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction Clemmer College of Education East Tennessee State University
American learning theory: Enlightenment roots Our most important American educational learning theories grow out of learning psychology Originated in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Learning psychology has its roots in the Enlightenment, an intellectual movement of the 17 th and 18 th centuries which stressed the use of reason as the best means of learning the truth. This contrasted with the emphasis on religion of previous eras. Both American democratic capitalism and Marxism have Enlightenment roots.
Cultural factors in education Different cultures have different expectations and attitudes toward education. One key difference is the attitude toward knowledge that does not have an immediate, practical use. Another is the attitude toward the authority of our superiors in generals and to teachers in particular. Cultures have differing attitude toward the appropriate role of teachers. Cultures have varying attitudes toward the appropriate way to formalize education: degrees, programs, and schools.
Implication If you use some of what we do in America in your situation, you will have to decide what applies to China. Not all of it will be relevant. Some of it will have to be adapted.
Authority and education In some cultures, the authority of the teacher is assumed. In American culture, it is not. Our children are brought up to question authority and to believe those in charge are not always right. This influences the way we teach.
Education in America: a practical attitude Education is a practical enterprise, particularly in the United States. We find theories useful when they help us accomplish our purposes.
American education and national unity The United States is vast. Its various regions have different histories. Our citizens are descended from people all over the world. Our ancestors had many different historical experiences: Establishing the first colonies, Immigration to large cities, Westward migration, Slavery and liberation, Conquest by dominant groups. Education evolved in different ways for the different groups in our society.
Are we teaching children or adults? Andragogy vs. pedagogy. Andragogy is the education of adults Pedagogy is the education of children Adults have more ideas about what they need to know than do children and more experience Children are more dependent on adults for information about the world. Whom will you teach? What will you teach? Why?
Transmission vs. Transaction models of education In a transmission model of education, the teacher is the authority. The teacher gives the knowledge; students learn it. In a transaction model, there is no assumption that anyone can “give” knowledge to another person. Students are encouraged to make the knowledge their own. If they can’t apply it to their own lives, we don’t feel the student really knows it.
Behaviorism Probably the most influential in American education Originators and important contributors: John B. Watson ( ), Ivan Pavlov ( ), B.F. Skinner ( ), E. L. Thorndike ( ). Learning is about behavior. There is no need to inquire into non- observable phenomenon such as “thought.” In behaviorism, everything we need to know about learning can be observed and quantified.
The behaviorist view of the world Learner is viewed as a passive responder to stimuli in the environment. Behavior is shaped by positive and negative reinforcement. (reward and punishment). Learning is about behavioral change Application: I see a meal on the table. I wash my hands.
Cognitivism (Gestalt psychology) Developed in the 1920’s as a challenge to behaviorism, which was seen as too dependent on external behavior. Views memory system as an active processor of information Takes account of the role of prior knowledge in learning. Looks at role of the brain: short term and long term memory.
Motivation and Learning Theories Examines why people learn. Needs hierarchy theory (Maslow): people are motivated by unmet needs. These are different for different people, but they go in a predictable order: Physiological needs: food, water, sleep, warmth. Safety: shelter, security Belonging: Love, family, friendship Self-esteem: recognition and achievement Self-actualization: individualism
Constructivism Began in the nineteenth century and extends to today: Piaget, Vygotsky, Dewey (progressive education). Learning is constructed from our own experience. Learning is a personal activity involving our mental development and social surround. Learning is dependent in part on our relationships to our society. It is also dependent on our interests.
Transformative learning theory Assumes that all of us, but especially adults may dismiss ways of viewing the world that differ from ours. Learning involves understanding other cultures. Learning involves changing our way of looking at the world by examining different viewpoints. Such change is essential to world citizenship Challenging a student’s existing ideas may be important.
Which theory is best? It depends on where you are working and what you are trying to do. What is your situation?
Contact information Dr. Rosalind R. Gann Box East Tennessee State University Johnson City, TN Phone: