What Are the Different Pedagogical Approaches to Learning?

teach letter blocks

There is a big demand for high quality education.

Parents want to be confident their child is receiving a good education as this prepares them for the future and further education.

The skills and knowledge they learn in school are very valuable and puts them in good stead for future experiences. This extends beyond the classroom setting and is important for everyday life, from personal to peer relationships.

The way teaching is delivered comes in a variety of forms. Furthermore, due to technology, there are a lot of ways teachers can impart education to their students and engage them in the learning process.

In this blog post we’ll identify the different pedagogical approaches to learning and why there are important for teachers.

What is Pedagogy?

Pedagogy refers to the method and practices of a teacher.

It’s how they approach their teaching style, and relates to the different theories they use, how they give feedback, and the assessments they set.

When people refer to the pedagogy of teaching, it means how the teacher delivers the curriculum to the class.

When planning a lesson, teachers consider the best way to communicate the relevant information to enable pupils the best possible learning experience. They will take into account the context of the subject and also their own teaching preferences.

This delivery depends on the age of the children and the classroom setting which we’ll cover in more detail further in the blog post.
teacher sitting with children

What Are the Different Approaches to Pedagogy?

There are various approaches to pedagogy which aim to support learners through their journey so they can achieve the maximum outcome.

Employing effective pedagogy approaches enables students to reach their full potential and provides a strong foundation for learning.

This also helps students realise their own capabilities which improves their self confidence and self esteem.

In turn, this increases the likelihood of students achieving, as they will be more motivated to participate in different activities.

Constructivism

This can also be described as progressive teaching style which is a response to a traditional method of teaching. It focuses on the idea that children are active rather than passive learners.

The idea behind this theory is that children learn through experiences and reflection. Constructivist pedagogy places the child at the centre of the learning, and can also be referred to as ‘invisible pedagogy’.

Project work, play, exploration, and inquiry based learning would be at the heart of a constructivist approach.

Teachers might also adopt a Montessori method which is based on self-directed play. In a Montessori classroom, children lead their own learning and teachers are there to guide.

The constructivist approach is based on the pedagogical research of Jean Piaget (1896-1890), a Swiss Psychologist who studied child development. In his work, Piaget wrote about ‘schemas’ which refers to the idea that children come to the classroom ready to engage and learn.

It is the role of a teacher to create activities that facilitate this learning and enhance their progression. Older children can manage more abstract ideas whereas younger children learn through play. By experiencing different things around them, children in early years discover the world by directly interacting with it.

A lesson might include more student led learning and less focus on the teacher. Using this approach, nursery practitioners and teachers might also encourage children to spend more time outdoors and engage with nature.

Social Constructivism

Social constructivism was developed by cognitive psychologist Lev Vygotsky and builds on the work of Jean Piaget whose ideas we have covered above.

However, in comparison to Piaget’s theory who purely believed in child centred learning, Vygotsky believed learning is a collaborative process. He focuses on the idea of children and teachers working together to achieve the best outcome.

He argued against the notion that learning could only happen in a social context and placed more emphasis on the role of the teacher.

In a constructivist pedagogy, teachers would use group work in the classroom but would limit groups to smaller sizes. With this approach, the teacher might also choose to use teacher modelling, questioning, and class instructions to engage students in different activities.

Teacher modelling is a great way to capture a child’s interests and teaches them a valuable lesson. When children observe an adult demonstrating a task or reacting to a situation in a certain way, they can copy these actions for themselves.

Behaviorism

With this approach, the teacher is at the centre of all learning practices. It focuses on the use of direct instruction, and lecture based lessons to communicate different topics to students. The theory of Behaviourism in a classroom derived from pedagogical research by Thorndike (1911), Pavlov (1927) and Skinner (1957).

Behaviourist pedagogy believes the teacher should be the sole authority figure, and leads the lesson. This totally goes against the ideas of Piaget, and in some senses Vygotsky, who believe children should direct some or all of their own learning.

Behaviorism believes knowledge should be delivered in a curriculum where each subject is taught discretely. This contrasts with topic based learning which provides cross curricular opportunities to allow students to explore subject matters in more depth. They can then make better connections between different areas of learning.

In a lesson using a behaviourist pedagogical approach, practices would include lecturing, modelling and demonstration, and choral repetition. Each activity is ‘visible’ and structured and is led by the teacher at the front.

However, there may be times during the lesson, where there is a slight shift and the student becomes the centre of the activity. Children then have the opportunity to demonstrate their own learning to the rest of the class.
child standing at the front of the class

Liberationism

Developed by Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, Liberation is an important pedagogy approach.

During his lifetimes, Freire was the Director of the Department of Education, and developed an approach of teaching that enabled him to teach illiterate adults to read in just 2 months.

To accomplish this, Freire focussed on removing two key barriers to learning: poverty and hunger.

Following the overthrow of the Government, Freire was imprisoned. Once he was released, he began writing a book titled ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ where he focussed on the dehumanisation of students in schools. Freire wanted children to have more of a say and he was passionate about fairness and cooperation.

He believed education was a discovery process, and for it to be a success, learners and educators need to collaborate together to test different concepts.

A liberationist approach is one where the student voice is placed at the centre, and the classroom is democratic in culture. There is value placed on having the teacher as a learner, and the class works collaboratively together to discover new subjects.

In a classroom setting, the teacher might use examples of literature that contain non-standard constructions, such as graffiti. Students are given more authority and may take on the role of the teacher.

They will then have the freedom to choose the topic for the duration of the lesson. It is the responsibility of the teacher to provide opportunities for the students to show off and highlight their learning. There is room to be creative here as activities can take the form of a performance, speech, or dance.

Where Did Pedagogy Come From?

The role of a teacher first originated in Ancient Greece, where teaching was believed to be an art form.

Only the wealthiest members of society could afford to send their children to school and educators were key figures in the learning process. Throughout their teaching they imparted their knowledge and wisdom onto children who absorbed this information into their own minds.

But it wasn’t these educators who were the first pedagogues.

Rich families used slaves to escort their children to and from school as they were too important to do so. These slaves also imparted their knowledge on the children they were chaperoning and were seen as experienced in the ways of the world.

It’s from this idea that the word ‘pedagogue’ was formed.

It roughly translates as ‘leader of children’, and is used to describe someone who guides children and tutors them, not solely in an academic sense but in moral and spiritual aspects too.
teacher and students painting

Why is Pedagogy Important for Teachers?

Pedagogy is important because it gives teachers an insight into the best practices for a classroom setting.

It allows them to understand how different students learn so they can tailor their lesson to suit these needs.

As a result, this will improve the quality of their teaching as it will be well received by students.

By being mindful of which theories you’re using, and how children are interacting with them, you can create more meaningful lesson plans.

Understanding and implementing good pedagogy helps teachers reconnect with their pupils and builds a better, more collaborative, relationship. There is understanding from both parties so that you are working towards a shared goal.

Also, the right pedagogy enables instructors to observe the academic progress of their students. The points below highlight the importance of pedagogy:

Pedagogy can improve the overall quality of teaching by making the student more receptive during lessons. As a result, this enhances the student’s level of participation and contribution during the learning process.

A well developed pedagogy helps impart education to students using a range of learning styles. It enables pupils to develop a deeper, and more meaningful understanding of a particular subject.

A good pedagogical approach is required for students with special needs or students who come from disadvantaged groups or minorities. The approach supports the needs of these students and helps them integrate better into the mainstream learning community.

An appropriate pedagogy enables students to develop higher order skills including analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Is Pedagogy Different Depending On Age?

Depending on the age of the students, and the content being taught, teachers might choose to use one pedagogical approach over another.

Using their experience of teaching specific age groups, teachers can decide on the best possible theory that will maximise a child’s learning. As always, any teaching needs to be age and stage appropriate for it to be a success.

During the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), teachers might choose to use child centred play if they have the knowledge that this approach works.

The importance of child centred learning is supported by theorists Maria Montessori and Jean Piaget who highlighted the significance of focussing on the child rather than the teacher. In this scenario the teacher acts as a guide and facilitator rather than being at the centre of the classroom.

The Learning Journals Approach to Learning

Learning Journals provides an online, collaborative platform where teachers and parents can easily record, upload, and share observations of a child.

Development is at the heart of Learning Journals and we understand that parents don’t want to miss a moment of this exciting journey.

We want a child’s progress to be easily accessible so offer limitless observations as part of our platform. This helps teachers and parents to capture children in the moment, and build up a picture of their progression over time.

We take the hassle out of observing, so you can get back to enjoying time with your child.

For nursery school owners, our approach to learning is tailored around you. Whether you’re using an EYFS framework or the Curriculum for Excellence, the Learning Journals platform can be tailored to suit your specific needs.

And there’s no need to worry about paperwork. With our online tool, you can see a full dashboard of your staff as well as being able to access children’s profiles. This helps you to stay organised and on track.

Want to see how the platform can benefit you? Request your free demo and see Learning Journals in action!
children playing in class

What Are the Different Pedagogical Approaches to Learning?

Children have a right to high quality education as this prepares them for their future.

The way education is delivered comes in a variety of forms and lots of teachers have their own methods of teaching.

A well thought out pedagogy can improve the quality of teaching and the way that students engage in different activities. This increases the likelihood of children achieving their goals as they are more likely to participate in the classroom.

Pedagogical approaches can help stimulate a child’s development and motivate them to keep learning. This is an important building block for their future as it means they will be excited about the learning process as a whole.

Teachers should be aware of the importance of a good pedagogical approach to ensure each and every child receives the best possible learning experience.