Learning with me, how I craft students’ learning

My Philosophy?
I read a book by Paulo Freire named ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’, a book that changed my perspective on teaching and education. As an educator, it is easy to claim our pedagogical orientation, what we comfortable most for teaching or what is being imposed by the institution. Particularly with my background in education, people around me do have some kind of expectation about my capability in teaching. It is because, as an academic in education field, the theoretical perspective on what is learning or teaching is known as my general knowledge. But how far it is actually translated into my action?

With my understanding about inquiry, following the 5E models of teaching, I clearly putting myself in the line of constructivism. Which people who oversee me might come to a conclusion that I am a constructivist educators. Hence, when I am translating the inquiry into teaching, I begin to questioned about epistemology, ontology and axiology. Four years back, when I was a tutor, I believe that teaching is about making sure that students are provided with sufficient knowledge on the particular topic. This is the prior belief which emerged from my previous learning experience in order to define excellency. I eagerly wanted the students to learnt about particular concept as I hold the truth that this particular concept (example: multiple regression) is needed for them to gain answers in their study. By this, I did not meant that I spoon feed the students on what needed for them to learn. Instead I designed the active learning activities to ensure the inquiry process is activated. However, in the end, what become very clear to me, learning to do can be very much like a breadcrumb trails where it only helps the students to keep track and aware on where are they now during the learning process. Something is not right, but I am unsure what it is.

After nearly four years completing my PhD, I realized the trap of positivist that often entangle learning to know. Epistemology is the key. Reading Paulo, he mentioned about reductionistic, which breaking down the knowledge that need to be learnt so that I have a better control on what should be learnt. As I come to my sense that the previous teaching belief is riddle by the reductionism, I begin to reconditioning what teaching meant for me. My motivation surfaced due to my family background which almost 90% of the women are educators. Being inspire by their satisfaction with teaching as a way of being, I already have an aim to become a teacher
since my secondary school. This is how naïve my motivation, and its remain with myself until now. My feeling when having the opportunity to share knowledge and making them understand your viewpoint on certain matters give me a satisfaction as a learner. But as I grow older in this field, my teaching goals changing from constructivist oriented to transformative learning. Because during teaching I begin to realized that teaching practices is not developed solely based on my motivation but also by the large influence of current norm in academic.

I begin to read about transformative learning theory when I have an interest with critical theory ideology brought by Bhaskar. The critical realist and Bourdieusian conceptions of action taught me that the teaching goal is to empower the students during learning process as the education is aiming at social change. The empowerment can only surface if students are given the opportunity to exercise their belief and value. For this reason, I begin to revisit my prior belief in constructivism. The dichotomy between these two philosophical stance is where the constructivist has no clear goals on students agency as they are constructing new knowledge. Which explain why, regardless of the active learning activities, students are only learning about doing science and not how science works. On the other hand, critical theory offer a perspective, whereby as students are given the opportunity to go through a self-reflecting process, it allows them to deconstructing their prior understanding. Therefore, students is placed in environment that force them to practice the thinking of constructivism rather than merely experiencing the constructivist learning activities. Which I strongly feel that they only become the ‘follower’ of the knowledge rather than being as an inventor. Thus, planning the inquiry process require myself to be positioned as critical theorist to ensure that students are able to practice their thinking as constructivist. To break the vicious cycle of reductionist, as a teacher, I believe we must be able to differentiate between ‘learning with constructivist’ and ‘being constructivist’.

Following my new teaching paradigm, the teaching strategy is coordinated with the philosophy of critical realism. The instructional design in the classroom has its centrality at the self-reflexivity of learner making sure that students are given the opportunity to exercise their understanding, belief and values during knowledge construction.