In writing a reflective piece which demonstrates an understanding of the role of the TL, I will initially examine processes and issues surrounding the constructivist learning concept and then relate these ideas to the role of the TL in regard to the Australian curriculum.
The Constructivist approach is one of four teaching styles presented by Richmond (2006, p.25). The other three being; Authoritarian approach, Behavioural approach, and Democratic approach.
A continuum ranging from teacher initiated goals and control (Authoritarian approach), to student initiated learning with self discipline (Constructivist approach) is displayed as a ‘behaviour management approach’ continuum graph. Richmond, (2006, fig. 2.3 p.25). Although this study focuses on behaviour management methods the message is relevant to overall curriculum implementation.
Perkins, (1999), recognized constructivism as a philosophy that promotes thoughtful learning in the classroom. He noted ”three basic learning premises that undergird the constructivist instructional approach”. That knowledge and understanding; are actively acquired, are socially constructed in dialogue with others, and, are created and recreated. Ward Beamon (2005, p.104).
Another consideration is understanding ‘what’s it going to take to motivate’ a student. Ulrich Tobias, (1996, Ch. 4). In this chapter Ulrich Tobias examines the concept that identifies individual learning styles and suggests motivational drivers. Understanding styles, and subsequently what may motivate an individual student, will support lessons being tailored towards individual student needs.
My final consideration in understanding constructivist learning, is the processes occurring in the brain associated with intrinsic motivation. Jensen (1998, p. 67-70). Here Jensen discusses the approach that will be most successful in guiding individuals to create intrinsic motivation towards knowledge and learning.
Jensen’s studies reveal that the concept of ‘intrinsic motivation’ is a term can be misused and misunderstood. “Most students are already intrinsically motivated; it’s just that the motivation is very context dependent. The same student who is lethargic in traditional math class can become quite energetic when figuring out paycheck deductions from her first job. Thus, we have been looking in the wrong places for motivation”. Jensen, (1998, p.67).
Considering the above, it appears individuals are motivated. This suggests the challenge for the TL is to support each individual student in acquiring the desire to learn and cater to individual needs in respect of learning styles and motivational triggers.
“As you probably know, there are no simple answers or sure-fire recipes, but you can find effective ways to inspire almost every learning style by discovering and appealing to the design of your mind. Remember, it’s likely that what motivates you will not be as effective with your children”. Ulrich Tobias (1996, p.39)
The TL will collaborate with colleagues regarding the Australian curriculum. Then construct library resources with a variety of learning experiences offered. “For adolescents to become better thinkers, they must become immersed in settings where thinking drives the understanding of knowledge”. Ward Beamon (2005, p.105
The role and challenge for the TL is to create an environment where intrinsically motivated learning occurs so that higher order thinking may be pursued.
Jensen, E. (1998), Teaching with the brain in mind. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Alexandria, Virginia.
Perkins, D. (1999), The many faces of constructivism.Educational Leadership 57(3):6-11
Richmond, C. (2006), Teach More, Manage Less. A Minimalist Approach to Behaviour Management. Scholastic Australia Pty Ltd, Lindfield, NSW.
Ulrich Tobias, C. (1996), Every Child Can Succeed, (ch.4), Focus on the Family Publishing. Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Ward Beamon, G. (2005), Teaching With Adolescent Learning in Mind. Hawker Brownlow Education. Moorabbin, Victoria.