The two loaded questions: What is knowledge? and What is learning?
If you were to look at Aristotle’s theory of Empiricism you would find that knowledge comes from sensory experiences of seeing, hearing and feeling. Other theorists, like Locke, believed that knowledge comes from experiences. When I think of my own definition of knowledge, I am truly all over the map because I believe the idea is very complex and hard to pinpoint. Is it when you can make connections with what someone is talking about? Is it when you have that ‘Aha!’ moment? As we continue our discussions in class and I get into the weekly readings I am finding myself coming out with more questions than I started.
I began my teaching career in a FIAP classroom at Winston Knoll Collegiate. Being 22 years old, having taken no Inclusive Education courses, learning how to manage multiple instructional assistants per class, and teaching a group of amazing but challenging students, it is a miracle I even made it through the year. Looking back, the learning theory I most often identified with was Behaviourism. I was constantly adapting my teaching style, activities and sensory room based on students’ responses whether it be verbal or physical. It is interesting to look back at what my theories of learning and knowledge would have been because at the time my only concern was staying afloat.
When looking at the learning theories and my current teaching practice, I think Amy hit the nail on the head when she said:
‘I think we need to follow a combination of theories in order to best meet the needs of all of our students. Additionally, we need to use a combination of theories to drive our practice, in order to move from ‘lower levels’ to ‘higher levels’ of thinking.’
I have considered myself as a behaviourist who continues to adapt my lessons based on student responses. I also see myself as a social constructivist who urges students to work and learn from one another. However, I cannot deny the benefits of connectivism and creating a network to foster learning.
Just like many of my classmates this week, I strongly believe that we would not be successful as teachers if we practiced just one theory. The most important idea for me, however, is developing strong and meaningful teacher-student relationships. The best feeling in the world is when you can sense that students are excited to be in class and eager to learn because those relationships have been established.