is the discipline that deals with the theory and practice of teaching. Instructive strategies that are governed by
the pupil’s background knowledge and experience, situation, and environment, as
well as learning goals set by the student and teacher. To teach effectively in the classroom, it’s
essential that a teacher attracts and holds every students interest and attention.
James Hartley (1998) identified key learning principles:
that an active learner is more effective than a passive one and frequent
practice in varied contexts is essential for learning. Constructivism,
also known as social constructivism focuses on the behavioural and cognitive
aspects of learning. This theory is represented by Piaget’s Cognitive Theory
and has been further developed by psychologists Bruner and Vygotsky who suggest
that students construct their own meaning from learning and experience.
Vygotsky suggests that learning is a social process where students interact
with each other and their environment and internalise various
concepts and skills (Boyle and Scanlon, 2010).
For Bruner (1961), the purpose of education is not to
impart knowledge, but instead to facilitate a child’s thinking and problem-solving
skills which can then be transferred to a range of situations.
Constructivist pedagogy encourages active learning
through assessing, questioning and exploring what is already known. This
process allows the learner to create more knowledge, reflect and in turn change
pre-existing understandings. Constructionist teachers transform the student
from a passive participant to an active participant by providing problem-solving
and inquiry-based learning activities (Boyle and Scanlon, 2010). One of the
most important attributes of the teacher is to create a willingness amongst
students to perform to the best of their abilities. It is observed that one of
the teacher’s roles is to arouse interest in students to actively engage with
the subject and to participate in the classroom. Today’s classroom is comprised
of active teaching methodologies (jct.ie,
It is necessary for students to be motivated and
actively participate in the classroom.
Motivation consists of extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. Extrinsic incentives refer to things
outside of ourselves, such as receiving praise from the teacher or achieving
high grades. B.F.
Skinner (1938) coined the term operant conditioning; it means roughly changing
behavior using reinforcement which is given after the desired response.
Behavior which is reinforced tends to be repeated or strengthened and behavior
which is not reinforced tends to be extinguished or weakened. Teachers can
enforce ‘operant conditioning’ within a classroom environment, to encourage
a sociological perspective, Emile Durkheim believed that integrated learning
within a mini society i.e. the classroom, teaches the children the necessary
tools such values, discipline and respect for authority to successfully
participate in adult society (Hibernia, Sociology Session, 1). This theory of
functionalism is supported in the 1999 NCCA extract by acknowledging “that children live in and are part of a
society, and that their personal development is deeply affected by their
relationships in the home and with other people in society” (NCCA, p.6,
and integration is supported by the underlying principal that “learning is most effective when it is
integrated”. Integrated learning allows for the child to embrace education
socially, culturally and environmentally. Teaching, which can be a sense of
achievement is also important to the teacher, however if teaching is labelled
as a ‘task’ it can highlight the actual need to reach a specific goal. ‘The
goal of teaching is that the learner comes to know what the learner sets out to
know. Thus, the activity of teaching is subordinate to the activity of learning.
The final goal of teaching and learning is that the learner learns for him or
herself’ McDonnell (p.58, 2009)
a teacher to ‘successfully’ teach or learn a student there needs to be a sense
of cooperation from both parties and a relationship based on a shared reality.
Students should be open and willing to learn what is presented by the teacher. However,
a teacher who is not prepared shows a lack of respect for the students. On the
contrary, a student who refuses to cooperate is lacking respect for the teacher
‘the teaching and learning relationship
is something that is not the exclusive property of either teacher or learner
but a shareable reality between the parties that is brought into existence
through their cooperation and only exists therein’ McDonnell (p.59, 2009)
teaching is defined as pedagogical practices that facilitate for diverse
children their access to knowledge, activities and opportunities to advance
their skills in ways that build on previous learning, assist in learning how to
learn and provide a solid foundation for further
learning in relation to the goals of the early childhood curriculum (Farquhar,
2003, p.5). Dialogue i.e. participation in a conversation for resolving
purposes or subject exploration can impact the teacher both positively and
negatively. This can be seen through teacher interaction with principals,
staff, children, parents and wider community. Studies were carried out around
the 1960’s on the topic of dialogue where teacher-talk-dominated the lesson and
where closed ended questions were the norm. During this time children were
passive participants in their learning, i.e. given content and instruction with
little encouragement for active participation.
dialogue takes the form of question-answer, question-answer. Socrates would
argue both sides of a question to arrive at a conclusion. However, with
developed understandings of dialogue, the teacher should prepare child-centred
lessons based on curriculum and topics of interest. For a successful dialect
lesson the teacher should ask open ended questions with opportunities for
discussion and problem solving. Timson (1997), found that an increase in
student questioning reduced teacher questioning and increased student
self-esteem during participation.
Coping and resilience
skills of students
What makes an adolescent resilient? Fonagy et al
(1994) define resilience as ‘normal development’ under difficult circumstances.
It refers to adapting well when confronted with adversity, tragedy or trauma.
Resilience can be fostered and nurtured. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient.
These include having a positive attitude, having the ability to regulate
emotions, seeing failure as a form of helpful feedback and being optimistic.
Promoting equality, Baker et al (2004) content that the concept of equality is
difficult to define, all are entitled to ‘equality of condition’ in terms of
five dimensions of equality or key factors that affect nearly everyone’s
wellbeing, respect and recognition resources, love care and solidarity, power,
working and learning.
B Watson (1878-1958) founded behaviourism, which is a stimulus response model
of learning where the environment provides the stimulus and the person
responds. A demonstration of this operant conditioning. BF Skinner is regarded
as the father of Operant Conditioning which refers to a rewarding behaviour you
want to persist and ignoring or punishing behaviour you want to eradicate. While
some students will respond to this is constructive and mature manner, other students
will not possess the level of resilience or self-esteem needed to actively
embrace this theory.
Smith and Mackie (2007) defined self- esteem as follows:
“The self-concept is
what we think about the self, self-esteem, is the positive or negative
evaluations of the self, as in how we feel about it.”
Self- esteem includes a variety of beliefs about the self, such as appearance,
beliefs, emotions and behaviours. López? ?and? ?Aguilar? say? ?that?
?self-efficacy? ?plays? ?an? ?important? ?role? ?in? ?how? ?students?
?approach? ?tasks? ?and? ?their success? ?rate? ?in? ?these? ?tasks.?
?Students? ?with? ?high? ?self-esteem? ?believe? ?they? ?are? ?capable? ?of
succeeding? ?and? ?are? ?more? ?motivated? ?to? ?begin? ?a? ?task.? ?In?
?contrast,? ?if? ?a? ?student? ?has? ?low? ?self-esteem they? ?will? ?try? ?to?
?avoid the more challenging tasks,? ?blaming? ?weaknesses? ?for? ?failure?
?(López? ?and? ?Aguilar, 2013).?
John Dewey (1859- 1952) for example held
empiricist views on how we learn. Dewey referred to his philosophy as
instrumentalism, rather than pragmatism, though the two are related.
Instrumentalism sees the value of an idea or tool being its use as an
instrument for getting results, therefore learning should be relevant and
rewarding, rather than only theoretical. Similarly, David Hume contended that
the only way to acquire knowledge is through experience. Hume’s most important work on the topic of
teaching and learning is his standard thesis.
Those who support this thesis maintain that the activities of teaching
and learning should be regarded as distinct and unrelated activities. He contends that the connections we make
between the two are psychological.
Hume held that the mind was a ‘tabula rasa’ and thus knowledge is acquired
through experience. Hume states that just because you experience something
happening x times it does not mean it will happen x times + 1 times. Students and teachers should be mindful that experiences
in the classroom or school environment will differ each time and the lesson
although may possess the same meaning, the circumstances will be different,
because inevitably we are faced with the reality of living in the present, no
matter how much we draw from the past.
The Allegory of the Cave, the essence of Plato’s educational philosophy is
depicted. ‘At first the fire will cause him pain’. From this analogy, we can
understand how one needs to experience a low before experiencing a high
otherwise how do we know the difference? The fire can demonstrate a low, and
freedom as the high. In the classroom environment students may view the
monotony of an everyday lesson as the low, however after achieving the outcome
they intended i.e. high grades in exams, the maybe viewed as their high, their
a historical point of view, education has been present in Ireland from the time
of the hedge schools up to the present day, Ireland’s education system has been
evolving and diverse in its nature. Traditionally in Ireland, students obtained
their education in single sex school environments. Additionally, 30% of primary
schools and 39% of secondary school students are in single sex schools (Lynch, 2004, p.16).
Therefore, gender segregation is inevitable in such schools. Boys
will try to emphasise their masculinity through sports and ‘macho’ behaviour in
single sex schools, which may lead to behavioural issues.
the following case study, it is hoped that all students in the catchment area
of Dondee Community School will obtain the same
education by amalgamating the schools.
O’Malley introduced free post-primary education to Ireland in 1967, with
financial provisions towards the cost of books.
Church and state bodies cooperated on this matter to ensure it was
successful as the influence of religious institutions was very much to the fore
of early Irish education. Most teachers provided a better quality of education following 1900 and
although there was some loss in children’s ability to recall and regurgitate
information, it was compensated for by a broader programme, greater enjoyment
of schooling and improved methodologies (Walsh 2012, p.66–70).
field of teacher effectiveness research has itself gone through a trajectory of
as understandings of the complex nature of student learning, as well as
practices, have evolved (Brophy and Good 1986). More
recently a multi-layered
has emerged that captures the intersection of multiple influences
contexts on how teachers both define and ‘do’ teaching in the classroom (Malm 2008; Muijs et al. 2005). Attention is now
focused on the teacher characteristics and
has been little focused research on pedagogy and teacher effectiveness in Irish
schools. Sugrue’s (1997) work with primary teachers
confirmed the perception of teaching as ‘craft’, reinforced through the
construction of teacher identity as an ‘inherited’ familial trait across
generations. The TALIS study (OECD 2009)
also noted lower levels of collaboration on pedagogy and a lower valuation of
development, teaching for diversity and inclusion in second-level
constructs of appropriate appraisal criteria. Nonetheless Irish second-level
reported elevated levels of self-efficacy, higher emphasis on subject knowledge
more positive student relationships than teachers in other countries.