Driscoll and Martinez presented wonderful synopses of different theoretical approaches to teaching and learning in this week’s reading requirements. It was interesting to consider the historical perspectives of knowledge, truth, and learning from the lens of behaviorism, cognitivism, neuroscience, and psychometric theory. I appreciate the multiple perspectives to allow for a wider landscape that will guide our discussions on the different approaches to teaching and learning. I do think that I have considered these more philosophic approaches and have developed my own take, but in the day-to-day it is easy to get caught up in short-term solutions so you can just get things done and move on to the next task. However, I know it is much more meaningful, albeit a lot more work, to approach designing classes and course work from a framework that you adhere to, such as behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, or pragmatism. I know that every time I have run into an issue designing courses, once I take a step back and consider the objectives, how I want to measure those objectives, and then take the time to slow down in order to take a more systematic approach, I am able to come up with a workable solution that is grounded in theory and, ultimately, more effective.
During our last class meeting, we discussed these different frameworks and briefly touched on how we identify with certain theories. I think there are many benefits to each of the approaches and can see how they would work depending on the teaching/learning environment. I definitely think I would use a behaviorist approach when attempting to reinforce certain skills, while I might look at a cognitivist approach when attempting to chunk skills to teach a larger, more complex concept. However, I found that most views took a more extremist stance, that is, most adherents thought that learning could only occur when it happened under a very specific set of circumstances. Whereas pragmatism can take a much more measured approach. Under the pragmatist school of thought, learning could occur through both external experiences as well as internal processes, you are not confined to one or the other. This appealed to me as it allowed for me to pick and choose the best of the different approaches to use an element of each theory that fit a specific set of conditions for different learning environments. It is more adaptable for the students and subjects you are working with.
Something that has helped me so far in the Driscoll textbook has been the story of “Kermit and the Keyboard.” It has been beneficial to examine the different philosophies utilizing a real-world, authentic example. While each theory can play a role, and I can see how each chapter will tie in the scenario to highlight elements of behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, or pragmatism, I do think this example has cemented my own appreciation of pragmatism. Kermit is intrinsically motivated to learn based on his interests, an emotion that is ignored in behaviorism. Additionally, he builds on previous accomplishments and is rewarded when he practices songs he feels more confident playing. He utilizes both the instruction manual and his social networks when he runs into roadblocks, and has a strong background in formally learning music as a player of both the clarinet and saxophone. I think continuing to read about Kermit at the end of each chapter will help me better understand the different theories so I can more readily apply them during my day-to-day work.