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Theories of Teaching and Learning D. C . Phillips. Theories of teaching Theories of learning. Bruce Joyce “ Model of teaching” : “The model of teaching described in this book come from beliefs about the nature of human beings and how they learn.”

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Theories of teaching

Theories of learning


Bruce Joyce

“Model of teaching”:

“The model of teaching described in this book come from beliefs about the nature of human beings and how they learn.”

NRC(National Research Council)

“advances in research on human cognition, development and learning”

as ideally driving educational practice.


There are two complexities about relationship between Teaching and Learning:

  • As William James said:
  • “to know psychology is absolutely no guarantee that we shall be good teachers”
  • “psychology is a science and teaching is an art : sciences never generate arts
  • directly out of themselves.”
  • Gray Fenstermacher and David Carr stress that:
  • “practical reasoning plays a central role in the thinking of effective teacher”
  • Teaching often takes place in institutions(schools, colleges, churches, families)
  • and its goals and methods is shaped by institutional demands.
  • Although these institutional demands are legitimate, they complicate and
  • loosen the relationship between learning theories and good teaching.

Theories of teaching and learning

Classic Theories(Plato, Locke, Rousseau, Dewey,…)

Contemporary Theories(skinner, Watson,piager...)


Plato and Socratic method

  • Plato’s dialogues offers:
  • Various illustration of Socratic questioning
  • The “Form”, apprehension of transcendental objects of knowledge
  • The Apology:
  • The Apology is Plato's version of the speech given by Socrates as he defended himself in 399 BC against the charges of "corrupting the young, and by not believing in the gods in whom the city believes.

Socrates‘own understanding of the function of what we call elenchus or elenctic

  • “a method of instruction whose aim is to lead an interlocutor to see the consistencies and contradictions in his own beliefs”
  • Socrates’ purpose was to purge the one questioned of false beliefs.
  • But it remained unclear how the elenchus could suffice to distinguish truth from error let alone yield knowledge.
  • Plato displays its limitations in Republic and abandons it thereafter.

The Meno:

  • Meno is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato.
  • It attempts to determine the definition of virtue, meaning virtue in general, rather than particular virtues, such as justice or temperance.
  • The first part of the work is written in the Socratic dialectical style and Meno is reduced to confusion.
  • He showed Socratic method in new light with its much discussed questioning of the slave boy.
  • Leading the learner to the correct conclusion through questions, while telling him nothing directly.

Plato explained the concept of learning through various analogies:

  • The line opinion knowledge
  • The sun “Form of Good” as a highest object of knowledge
  • The cave darkness: ignorance
  • sunshine: real knowledge

John Locke (1632-1704)

  • One of the great figures in the school of British empiricism
  • An important place in the history of educational thought
  • Some thought of concerning education(1693)
  • Four major purposes of education:
  • Virtue
  • Wisdom
  • Good breeding
  • learning

The influential aspect of Locke’s philosophy

internal experience


Simple ideas


external experience

complex ideas

Simple ideas combined in various ways


Lock’s theories:

  • “understanding “ is “furnished” with ideas, it can grasp relationship between various ideas or come to know thinks through immediate apprehension of such relationship or through following out chains of reasoning.
  • “sensationalism”:
  • Solid background experience
  • with out experience, they will learn words but will not have mastery of underlying concept

Johann Pestalozzi (1746-1827):

  • An educational practice, the Swiss reformer
    • “object lessons”:
  • Where a form of training of the senses that where widely used in the emerging elementary school systems through out Europe and the United States.
  • The teacher would lead students through a graded series of lessons in which they carefully observed the qualities of objects presented to them.

Maria Montessori (1870-1952)

  • “mechanistic psychologists”:
  • The impression which we receive from external objects knock upon and force the gates of our senses.
  • the child treated as an “EMPTY VASE” waiting to be filled.
  • Locke’s “furnishing” theory.


  • Gene van philosopher, writer and composer of 18th century
  • The leader of “naturalism”
  • 1741, Paris
  • His books and articles
  • Confession
  • Discourse on the arts and sciences
  • Discourse on political economy
  • The social contract
  • Emile
  • John Calvin ‘s philosophy in 18th

The book Emile (1762) stands as the foundation stone of the modern progressive education movement.

  • young boy
  • In the country away from civilization
  • The boy is given a natural education
  • Natural: innate and God given, goodness and freedom.
  • Emil’s first book: Robinson Crusoe
  • Male chauvinist
  • Sufy, Emil’s wife
  • The progress of human’s development
  • Infancy (0-5)
  • Childhood (5-12)
  • Pre adolescence (12-15)
  • Adolescence (15-12)
  • Young adulthood (18-20)

Emil should be free from artificial restraint.

  • Emil should be as free as the nature.
  • Emil should only feel the “harsh yoke which nature imposes upon man the heavy yoke of necessity” .
  • Emil should learn through discovery and spontaneous exercise of his own faculty
  • Emil should move and motivate from one topic to another by his own curiosity
  • The tutor is to teach Emile nothing
  • Emil’s ”natural” determine stages of intellectual and moral development:
  • this progress from being moved by pleasure and pain and sharpening his senses to grasping what is useful and instrumentally ,to being moved by reason and discovering.
  • “natural reason”

“Discovery learning”

Let him not learn science but discover it.


The progressives had much in common with Rousseau

  • A.S.Neil
  • Free school: “summer hill”
  • The child is innately wise and realistic
  • Attendance at school was voluntary
  • Student decided what they wanted to learn
  • Like Rousseau, Neil trusted children and had faith that they were naturally good and self -regulating

John Dewey (1859-1952)

  • Philosopher of education of in North America
  • Funder of pragmatism
  • Small book “the school and society”:
  • Psychology of elementary education (1902) similarity to William James:
  • “talks to teachers on psychology ”(1899)
  • Both adopted an evolutionary approach of learning by allowing actions to be guided by reason and experience
  • from their biological perspective a learner should be active mentally and physically

Dewey’s pragmatic epistemology was directly related to education.

Philosophy as “general theory of education”:

on the basis of his biological, experimental approach to epistemology that he advocated the use of activity and discovery methods and projects in the classroom.


There are close contact between Dewey’s work and two extremely influential models of teaching:

  • Schools had responsibility, ”The funded wisdom of human race” ,wisdom embodied in curriculum.
  • like Emile’s tutor , Teacher would not impose material on students, his role as aresource, a facilitator.
  • “The child and the curriculum ”:
  • teacher should be a psychologizer of subject matter

2. Dewey stressed that when teachers attempt to transfer knowledge to student this will be:

“cold storage knowledge”

Unless the student are active in usingit in application ”to their own purpose”



Refers to the idea that learners construct knowledge for themselves.

Each learner individually and socially constructs meaning as she/he learns.



  • was influenced by “ordinary language philosophy”
  • Attempted to clarify the concepts that were central in educational discourse
  • Paul Hirst:
  • ”there was an extremely tight connection for teaching involves the intention that someone will learn.”
  • teaching is polymorphous activity:
  • A large range of things can count as teaching activities, depending upon the context and on specific nature of what is being learned.
  • learning is polymorphous activity:
  • A large range of possibilities including facts, generalizations, intellectual skill, practical skill and so on.

Contemporary theories of learning

Classic behaviorism

John .B. Watson

B.F Skinner


Watson: treated learning in terms of Povlovian conditioning

Skinner: more influenced by work of Thorndike learning in terms of operant conditioning





“ teaching machine”

Student giving the correct response to a question was reinforced by immediately being informed that the answer was correct.


Three main lines of theory and research in the last few decades of the 20th and beginning of 21th


Second has been the rapid rise of computer science and interdisciplinary field of cognitive science



  • Gerald L. Gutek (Philosophical and Ideological Perceptive onEducation)
  • کاربردروانشناسیدرآموزش(رابرت بیلر)،ترجمه پروینکدیور
  • Internet

Presented by:

NasrinNejadMoghadam & NegarPiraie