Sample Essays: Teaching and Learning in the Curriculum

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What is Learning

At the individual level, learning is more concerned with gaining knowledge, understanding, and skills. At the organization level, it is more concerned with evolving perceptions, visions, strategies, and transferring knowledge. At both levels, it is involved with discovery and invention – i.e., recognizing, creating, or exploring new knowledge; and with manipulation of knowledge and understanding to generate new ideas or concepts.

Learning in the sense of the learning organization takes place when:

  • data is collected and analyzed to generate new facts.
  • facts are accepted and new conclusions reached or old opinions modified.
  • changing conditions are recognized and new paradigms developed or accepted.
  • knowledge and understanding are embodied in new technologies or products.
  • acquisition of new facts or the slow accretion of experience or concepts result in change of beliefs or attitudes.
  • knowledge is transferred through communications, teaching, dialogue, and/or cross-fertilization.

What is Learning Organization

David Garvin in the August 1993 Harvard Business Review defines a leaning organization as “an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights.

Peter Senge in his book, The Fifth Discipline, described a learning organization as “a place where people continually expand their capacity to create results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free and where people are continually learning how to learn.”

Ross, Smith, Roberts and Kleiner advocate this definition. “Learning in an organization means the continuous testing of experience, and the transformation of that experience into knowledge- accessible to the whole organization, and relevant to its core purpose.”

Activities of a Learning Organization

  1. Systematic problem solving: thinking with systems theory; insisting on data rather than assumptions; using statistical tools
  2. Experimentation with new approaches: ensure steady flow of new ideas; incentives for risk taking; demonstration projects
  3. Learning from their own experiences and past history: recognition of the value of productive failure instead of unproductive success
  4. Learning from the experiences and best practices of others: enthusiastic borrowing
  5. Transferring knowledge quickly and efficiently throughout the organization: reports, tours, personnel rotation programs, training programs (David Garvin, “Building a Learning Organization”, Harvard Business Review, Aug. 1993, pp. 78-90.)

The Role of Self- esteem, Self-efficacy and Anxiety in Learning Organization

Self acceptance is a springboard for all our successes and failures. It is a particularly difficult task for the adolescent. The familiar and comfortable self we knew in childhood is in a state of change. All the changes in his body (i.e. sexual development, physical size, and muscular development) and changes in his cognitive development necessitate a modification of his childhood self. He is constantly told by others that he is growing up, and with this growth comes new responsibilities, certain rights and advantages, and expected behaviors. Added to the changes and expectations is the conflict that arises between the internalization of values accepted by society and the need to reject those values in favor of what his conscience tells him is right or wrong. Consequently, he begins to ask questions such as: “Who am I?” “What do I believe in?” “Would others like me if they knew what kind of person I am?”

These changes and new attitudes of mind are a source of anxiety for the adolescent, partly because he does not have a clearly defined sense of self and cannot instantaneously become an adult, and he has to learn to accept his particular person. Until he can get through these obstacles, he is apt to have low self-esteem. Self-esteem is also affected by the experiences children have in school. Many educational programs are competitive and provide numerous opportunities for children to measure themselves against others in terms of intelligence, physical skills, and popularity. This measurement can have both positive and negative effects on self-image.

Teachers can help adolescents by setting expectations that are appropriate for the age level and intelligence ability, stressing positive activities and playing down negative ones, and explaining what is happening to them.

Self-efficacy, in brief, differs from self-esteem insofar as self-efficacy relates to your belief that you have the skills and competencies to do something. Learners can have robust self-esteem but, if asked, can admit happily that they don’t actually have the skills and ability to do the task at hand. Conversely, learners may well have the required skills and competencies to do something, but if they don’t have the confidence that they can, they probably won’t even if they could!

Simply, helping children to develop positive self-esteem is admirable, but it is not enough if we are talking about confident, independent, flexible, self-regulated learners equipped for lifelong learning.

Worries can be powerful partners in helping a learner think about the world, as long as they don’t swell to flood stage and wash away his coping strategies. If they are kept to a manageable size, they can be effective catalysts to the mastery of learning and thinking.

Children need to learn to manage negative emotions, and to do that, they need to experience them from time to time at manageable levels. The anxiety-free child is a fantasy. Anxiety is an important warning signal for potential danger. Mastering both the anxiety and the thing or event that provoked it is a powerful learning experience.

To conclude the discussion subject of this paper, it should be emphasized that the importance of growing self-esteem, self-efficacy and fighting with learner’s anxiety is indisputable and vital in teaching practice, since these factors may affect not only the academic performance of a student, but also his or her attitude toward life and values in future.

Reference

A Learning Organization. Materials retrieved at: http://www.dist.maricopa.edu/users/bleed/learnin.html#learning

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