Methods of Teaching According to different Schools of Philosophy
- Methods by idealism
Buttler is right when he says, “Idealists consider themselves creators and determiners of methods, not devotees of some one method.” They speak of the general nature of teaching methods only. They do not specify any method to be adopted in the centers of learning. Therefore, method is the weakest aspect of the philosophy of idealism. Different idealists have adopted different methods. Socrates adopted the question method. Plato, his disciple, changed question method into conversational method and made it logical. His disciple, Aristotle followed inductive and deductive methods. Hegel adopted logical method. Pestalozzi adopted self-activity method. Herbart on methods says, “I have no conception of education without instruction and do not acknowledge any instruction which does not educate.” He also takes the help of discussion method and at times suggests debate as a technique of teaching. Froebel’s familiar metaphor of the “Kindergarten” indicates his philosophy of the methods of teaching. According to him, “The school is garden, the educand a tender plant and the educator the careful gardener.” The work of a gardener is to see that the child achieves the finest form possible. Ross says, “The naturalist may be content with briars but the idealist wants fine roses. So the educator by his efforts assists the educand, who is developing according to the laws of his nature, to attain the levels that would otherwise be denied to him.”
Thus we reach conclusion that the idealists do not regard any particular method to be superior. But one thing is definite that the way should not be tedious so much so that we might not acquire our aim. So far as the methods of teaching are concerned, the idealists did not contribute any original ideas. They have given us lofty aims of education. Ross, therefore, says, “It is only idealism that can give a clear vision of a satisfactory goal for educative effort; we must therefore turn to idealistic conceptions if we would get things into proper perspective.”
For classroom practice, idealists would encourage the use of the discussion and the lecture methods. The discussion method of learning which is popularly known as the socratic method involves questioning and discussion. It was the method of learning in the upanishadic period of Indian education It is also known as the ‘Informal dialectic’ method. Idealists value the use of well-prepared and presented lectures. Lecture should not be a phonographic recitation on facts but a scholarly exposition. It should also not be delivered in an autocratic way. It should be participatory.
- Methods by Naturalism.
Rousseau considers education as a process of living. Being a process, it lasts throughout life or at least from birth to adult life. It finds its meaning for any particular stage, not on a future state. It is not artificial, harsh, unsympathetic, repressive of all natural inclinations, by which “the child as a “little man” is made into a “big man” through the hands of the teacher. Development of the child through natural process is an enjoyable, rational, harmoniously balanced, ^ useful and hence natural life. The aim of education is achieved not in adult life, but in each succeeding day, whenever life has its natural activities, its appropriate duties and its corresponding satisfaction. Thus stress is given on direct experience of things. Rousseau, therefore says, “Give your scholar no verbal lessons: he should be taught by experience alone. Teach by doing whenever you can and only A fall back upon words when doing is out of question. Book knowledge should be as little as possible.”
Rousseau’s method of teaching has a sound basis of actual experience. For example “science should not be taught from books or by chalk and talk lessons,” it should rather be learned by the pupil through his own work in the laboratory or whenever possible, through a direct study of natural i: phenomena outside the school together.This is the exact definition of the project – a practical problem in its natural setting. Rousseau believes that scientific atmosphere destroys science. Hence the apparatus to be used by the child in his investigation is to be self-invented. In his words, “we should make all our apparatus ourselves. It would…. rather our apparatus was somewhat clumsy and imperfect, but our ideas clear as to what the apparatus ought to be, and the result to be obtained by means of it.” Geometry should not be taught by argument and problems in text books, however lucidly explained. It should be learned in its original sense of earth measurement by the help of surveying the playground or school field. Again it should be learnt by the scout movement, school journey and actual excursion, not from books or maps.
Rousseau also lays stress on the value of direct experience of social life. Children should learn the rights and duties of a citizen through organization of a free, natural society. He recommends self-government in place of authoritarian methods.
Rousseau believes that all learning takes place in the spirit and by the method of play: “Whether play is seen as the recapitulation of the activities of primitive man, or as a rehearsal of future life, adult activities, or as a means of discharging the energy of native propensities, all agreed that it is nature’s mode of education.” Hence playway should be considered as the outstanding general method of creative education.
The method recommended by Rousseau may be identified with the heuristic method. Though it is not exactly heuristic, it is a method of discovery. It may be compared with the experimental method advocated by John Dewey. This method advocates “Let him, know nothing because you have told him, but because he has learnt it for himself. You have not got to teach him truths so much as to show him how to set about discovering them for himself.” Learning by doing is the general principle which governs the education of “Emile.”
- Pragmatic Methods
The focus of pragmatic methods of teaching is on the ‘child-in-society’ and his activities therein rather than the book, the teacher, the subject or exclusively the child-of-nature. Learning always occurs as a result of an activity. The teacher has to capitalize upon the activities of children to direct the teaching-learning process. Activity is the basis of all teaching. The child should be enabled to find out information by himself instead of pouring information on him. Children should be encouraged to discover and investigate the facts of life. Education must develop the laboratory habit of mind. The method of teaching should be experimental.
Dewey feels that methods of teaching should develop reflective thinking in children. They must ask the ‘Why ?’ of things and not merely the ‘How?’ of things. Method cannot be conceived in isolation from matter. Therefore, method should vary as matter varies.
Project method is a direct outcome of Dewey’s theory “Learning by doing”. It shifts the emphasis from teaching to learning which can be only effective if it takes place not only through doing but also through living. Emphasis must be given to enable the children to live an active life. They should set to themselves a problem or task and carry it out through their own planning and activity. Thus learning will be incidental and an outcome of purposeful activity. No formal learning is to be forced on the child. The project method of Dewey aims at “Learning by living.” According to this, things are learnt through carrying out certain projects as presented by real life.
Some educators have attempted to define project more clearly. Stevenson in his book “The Project Method of Teaching” has described it as a problematic act carried to completion in its natural setting. A project, according to Kilpatrick is a whole-hearted purposeful activity proceeding on a social environment. According to Ballard, “A project is a bit of real life that has been imparted into the schools.”
- Existentialist Methods
The method of teaching advocated by existentialism is of asking questions, refining answers, asking more questions and pushing the issue until some acceptable conclusion was reached. Existentialists favoured the Socratic approach to teaching, as it was inductive, proceeding from the immediate and particular to the abstract and universal. In this method, knowledge and wisdom are gained through personal relationships between the teacher and the pupil. They give emphasis on individual attention. Since emphasis is given on individual attention, they prefer home education to school education. “For existentialism what counts is personal contact not timetable.” The ancient Indian educators advocated and experimented domestic system of education to give individual attention and treatment to the students. In this system the personal touch, the living relationship between the Acharya and Brahmachari constituted education. In a modern school, a teacher teaches a class and not the individuals with their differences. But in ancient India, the Acharya taught the individuals with their differences, not the class. For this they developed Gurukula System of education.
In existentialist system the teacher cannot impose upon children his own ideas, ideals, ideologies and values. Religious education may be imparted, provided there is no scope for indoctrinations. They advocate a method of teaching which can develop creativity among the pupils.
Methods of Teaching as recommended by Secondary Education Commission (1952-53)
- The commission suggested that methods of teaching should provide ample opportunities for students to develop clear thinking and clear expression.
- Individual-centred methods and opportunities for practical application of knowledge should be adopted.
- Activity method and project method should be used in school practice.
- Establishing of Experimental and Demonstration schools and training in activities such asscout movement, N.C.C., first aid should be encouraged.