My Personal Learning Theory?

I started public school in 1958 after doing one year of kindergarten in a private school. Since that time, education has changed dramatically. From a face-to-face, pen and paper-learning environment to multiple technologies, networked, and online presented classes, the world of education has evolved. However, as much as things change, there are still some things that remain constant; a teacher/professor/instructor still needs to work with students. Educational theories abound and for me, no one is adequate to cover the various ways that people learn. Bloom’s Taxonomy, Piaget’s genetic epistemology, Gardner’s multiple intelligences, Dewey’s learning by doing, Erikson’s socioemotional development, Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, Vygotsky’s social development theory, and Siemen’s network theories (Driscoll, 2005) all contribute elements into a whole. The idea is to take from different theories to fashion something usable. Computers and other technologies have the added benefit of being tools that allow teachers to fashion and accommodate the various ways students learn; the various theories give a framework for understanding it all.

When I was in high school, a teacher, Mr. John Feirst, described teaching to the Future Teacher’s Club. He said that children begin with a basic layer of information and skills, it is on this layer that a teacher helps the child build their educational foundation, each year the information gets broader, more detailed, and the foundation gets deeper. If something is missed, it causes a hole to appear in the foundation. As more information is added, the hole gets bigger unless a teacher in subsequent years helps the young student fill it in. Unattended to, the hole gets bigger, information is not added over that part of the foundation, and the whole structure of learning can be put in jeopardy. Based on this, it is apparent that it is the responsibility of the teacher to see that their students have a firm foundation and any holes in that foundation need attending to before trouble appears. A teacher must also remember not to try to get their student to paint the walls of their house of knowledge before they are even built!

I have said this before, but will say it here again because it is a firmly held belief of mine. We only have these students for a few months. It is our duty to see they get the best we have to offer; they are not social experiments, or testing grounds and we do not have the right to steal from their learning just to try some new method or theory. We get to go home at the end of the day, have our summer vacation, and do it all again with another group of students the next year but for the students we shortchanged, it is their future we have messed with and no one gave us the right or authority to do that. Shame on us if we forget our primary duty is to our students; they deserve nothing less than our very best.

Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of Learning for Instruction. New York: Pearson.

For some interesting reading about the blending of theories, try:
Berliner, David. “The 100-Year Journey Of Educational Psychology.” http://www.wou.edu/~girodm/611/Berliner_100years.pdf

Key words: Learning theory, philosophy of education, teacher responsibility

I will be responding to the other students in my class.