Pedagogical Methodology Models

This section looks at several innovative pedagogical methodologies in K-12 teaching and learning. The goal of any good pedagogical methodology is to be flexible enough to combine the objective of providing to every student developmentally age appropriate and/or skill-specific contemporary knowledge that is delivered in a memorable format. The ultimate evaluation will be based on the success and happiness of the students as they hopefully convert knowledge into wisdom.

As was explored in the Innovationism thesis, teaching and learning has to be implemented in a balanced, but not necessarily equal, objective and subjective application. It will take forever for American K-12 education to reach its full potential in providing quality contemporary education if the ideologies of Essentialism and Progressivism continually work in opposition instead of harmony.

The objective social philosophy Enlightenment and its education philosophy Essentialism have been at odds with the subjective social philosophy of Romanticism and its associated education philosophy Progressivism since the founding of our country. Romanticism was a movement in the arts and literature that originated in the late 18th century, emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy of the individual. Romanticism was a reaction against the order and restraint of classicism and neoclassicism, and a rejection of the rationalism that characterized the Enlightenment (The New Oxford American Dictionary).

  1. D. Hirsch Jr. (1996) in his book, The schools we need: Why we don’t have them, stated:

That before the Romantic Movement, the underlying conception of education, and one that has never altogether disappeared in any society, assumed that a child is a still-to-be-formed creature whose instinctual impulses need less to be encouraged than to be molded to the ways of the society in which it is growing up. That is still the dominant conception of education in most societies of Asia and Africa, and it continued to be so in the West up to the late eighteenth century. Plato, for instance, attached high importance to education because he was convinced that a good life and a just society required the special training and encouragement of the rational parts of human nature so they would dominate and control its instinctive, emotional aspects. For Plato, the root of evil would be an education that allowed instinct and emotion to dominate over reason. The recently popular motto “Follow your bliss,” where “bliss” means whatever your instinctive preferences happen to be, would have seemed to Plato a moral blasphemy. Likewise, the Judeo-Christian theory of education, while stressing rationality less than Plato did, discloses a similar distrust of human nature and of its instinctive emotions (p. 72).

The founders of the United States – Enlightenment figures like Madison, Jefferson and Hamilton – took a skeptical and suspicious view of human nature. Their suspicion underlies the protections afforded individuals against the tyranny of the majority; the reliance on a Senate to avoid the dangers of purely representative government; and the doctrine of separation of powers, which erects a structural protection against power-seeking and greed. The Constitution they framed does not imply trust in the innate goodness of human nature when allowed to follow its bliss. In Jefferson’s writings on public education, which are the fullest we have from the Founding Fathers, the stress on cultivating an aristocracy of talent and virtue, as well as the stringent rules for moral education, does not disclose a confidence that human nature should be encouraged to follow its natural development (p. 73).

According to Hirsch, progressive education as we know it today, originated at Columbia University’s Teachers College in the 1920s where the teachings of nineteenth century European Romantic Era education philosophers and psychologists such Friedrich Froebel (b. 1782), the inventor of kindergarten; Johann Herbart (b. 1776), who fostered “child-centered education;” and Johann Pestalozzi (b. 1746), who advocated bringing education into harmony with the natural development of the child influenced this movement. It was European Romanticism that created the new conception of the child which came to dominate American educational theory (p. 72).

Increasingly, there has been a questioning of the belief that all will be well if the child is encouraged to grow naturally like a tree, and there has been a renewed interest in the idea of moral education. But many Americans still have faith that things natural must be better than things artificial. The underlying tenets of the Romantic Movement have proved highly durable in the United States; almost all our dominant ideas and phrases pertaining to early education are traceable to it. The idea of developing a child’s creativity and imagination originated with Romanticism. The ideal of educating not just the intellect but the “whole child,” including the imagination, derives initially from Romantic pantheistic faith in the unerring goodness of whatever comes forth from the child without artificial hindrance. Although the United States was born in the Enlightenment, it was bread in Romanticism (p. 77).

Although it is difficult to completely separate the “art of teaching” from the “what is being taught” this section focuses on the “art of teaching” aka “pedagogical methodology.” Pedagogical methodology has been referred to in many terms and terminologies that are in a constant state of flux, or hopefully education evolution. Although a conservative essentialist, Hirsch (1996) describes some of the contemporary teaching and learning terminology by stating:

The goal of present-day educational reformers is to produce students with “higher-order skills” who are able to think independently about the unfamiliar problems they will encounter in the information age, who have become “problem solvers” and have “learned how to learn,” and who are on their way to becoming “critical thinkers” and “lifelong learners.” The method advocated for achieving these “higher-order skills” is “discovery learning,” by which students solve problems and make decisions on their own through “inquiry” and “independent analysis” of “real-world” projects. What Kilpatrick in the 1920s called the “project method” is now called “discovery learning.” (p. 129)

In Hirsch’s book can be found a comprehensive list of contemporary teaching and learning terms (see: Critical Guide: Terms & Phrases). Hirsch believes that what is important is the content of what is being taught and not necessarily the “tools” or methodology of how it is being taught; and that standardized assessments should be the primary gage as to the success of that effort. For example, how could a child be expected to “critically think,” if he or she doesn’t have the proper knowledge to think about. Because Hirsch is an Essentialist in a time of predominately educational Progressivism ideology and programs, the list is a balancing view because it is seen through a conservative education lens.


Blended Learning

Blended learning refers to three methodological concepts. The first is the idea of blending traditional paper materials and curriculum with digital eBooks and information downloaded from internet sources. It is estimated that within five years all U. S. K-12 education will be administer in this format.  Traditional reading and writing in education will never be completely eliminated because of its convenience in conveying information and communicating in a non-electronic format.

The second form of blended learning refers to the Blended-based Learning model which refers to any progressive teaching/learning methodology which combines traditional K-12 teaching methods with innovative programs to encourage the development of the so called “soft skills” of critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, cooperation and curiosity. This form of Blended Learning also includes the integration traditional curriculum to promote authentic learning opportunities. Blended learning is often used as a synonym for hybrid learning, although several authors have distinguished between the two. For our purposes, we are using the term hybrid learning to encompass both perspectives.

Lecturing is without doubt effective for transmitting information but if we wish to develop thinking skills, problem solving abilities and lifelong learning skills a more student-centered approach must be taken (see: How We Learn and Think). This involves a change in the role of the lecturer from presenting information to students in a mostly one-directional teacher-student model to a more collaborative approach where the students themselves feel empowered which facilitates and guides learning.

With the “Flip Teaching” model Flip teaching (or flipped classroom) is a form of “Blended-based Learning” which encompasses any use of technology to leverage the learning in a classroom, so a teacher can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing. This is most commonly being done using teacher-created video lectures that students view outside of class time. It is also known as “the backwards classroom,” reverse instruction,” flipping the classroom,” and “reverse teaching.”

These hybrid models may require students to watch videos at home through platforms such as Khan Academy (p. 48) or engage with other web-based content, while class time is repurposed as an opportunity for teacher-student interaction to mentor individuals and groups, and for students to problem solve and work together in peer-to-peer collaboration while online environments are used for independent learning. The distinction is in the degree to which the Internet components are woven into the curricular design.

The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, which part of the North Carolina State University College of Education, FIZZ project has student video tape their lesson and present them to their peers thus creating the potential of the group to learn from each other. This creates “ownership” in the presenting student which is the highest form of cognitive recognition. This also gives students an opportunity to direct and take responsibility for their own learning (see: Personalized/Blended-based Learning).

As will be seen in a look at the following progressive methodologies several have already been blended and are currently being field tested. For example, The Growth Mindset concept has been effectively combined with the Inquiry-based teaching and learning format. In addition, several programs are being presented in a flowing classroom format which combines the traditional, whole-class lecture/standardized assessment format with a constructivist, student-centered mentoring/formative assessments such as portfolios and exhibitions.