Relating it back to the theory of education
It has been a few months since I have done any accredited courses. Although I read and strive to learn something every day.
This week I started a diploma in SEND (special Educational Needs and Disabilities).
The introduction has been inspiring because it reaffirms everything I believe in and try to incorporate back into Clara James Tutoring. What I am reading now reiterates everything I believe to be true.
The Children and Families Act 2014 emphasises that every child’s needs should be assessed individually.
This is why I have always been so adamant, perhaps to an extreme, that education and learning can not be a generic, one style suits all system.
When we are working with children on an individual basis, we have the privilege to be able to embrace the child’s individuality. I’m not saying it’s the easiest approach, but we aren’t in it for an easy life. We are, I hope, in it to make a genuine difference to those that we work with.
Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development theory.
Lev Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist that lived between 1896 and 1934. He discovered that children learn better when they are physically close to an adult. As they gain confidence, the presence of the adult becomes less necessary.
It was his findings that were fundamental in the shift towards recognising the importance of one-to -one support which went on to offer the foundations of support offered to children with special educational needs.
We have always offered one-to-one support. My logic was that if a child was struggling and afraid to ask questions in front of their peers at school, this wouldn’t be any different with a tutor. If a child and their tutor can build up a relationship so that the child feels confident to ask questions in a non-threatening environment, their learning will be far greater.
Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory
Albert Bandura, an American psychologist recognised how children copy the behaviour of adults. (He named this MODELLING). His studies focused on children watching videos of adults beating a Bobo doll. There were 3 different endings to these videos that the children watched.
- In one the adults were reprimanded for their behaviour.
- In another, they were praised.
- Finally, the third video showed no consequence for their behaviour.
His studies revealed that the children’s behaviours were strongly influenced by the outcome of the videos. This, although not directly relevant to tutoring, showed the importance of being mindful of what children watch on screens as they will mimic the behaviour of adults around them.
What was important was that he recognised that children want to win approval. They need strong role models, and positive feedback in the form of praise and rewards.
I have always been an advocate for praise. I think, even as adults we respond better when our efforts are acknowledged and appreciation shown. Furthermore, I believe that if we are working with a child who consistently does poorly compared to their peers at school, it is impart our responsibility to boost their confidence and self-esteem. This then becomes in part a self-fulfilling prophecy. The reward is something that can be celebrated and used as a motivation to try again.
Bandura also recognises the importance of high self-esteem and self-worth in children.
This idea was created by 3 German psychologists: Max Wertheimer (1800-1943), Wolfgang Kohler (1887-1967) and Kurt Koffka (1887-1941). Gestalt means pattern.
Their research recognised that learning is holistic. The brain filters information, comparing, structuring in order to retain and make sense of it.
This theory instigated the idea that children don’t learn by passively listening but by using a range of methods. They also championed the idea that children need to learn at their own paces.
This was music to my ears and reflected everything that Clara James is based upon.
Carl Rogers (1902- 1987) was a key founder of
the self-Actualisation and person-centred theory.
He celebrated the idea that children have 2 basic needs:
- To be regarded positively
- Have a well-developed sense of self-worth. How we think of ourselves is key. Higher levels of self confidence means we are less likely to take failure personally.
Self-worth is developed in early childhood and influenced by having an unconditional regard from significant adults in their lives. Children need to know they are loved and respected for who and what they instinctively are.
There is no greater importance than that of being valued, respected and receiving love and affection.
He again reiterated the idea that one single approach to education will not suit everybody.
There was one more key theory, Bloom’s Theory but his work seemed more relevant to working in classrooms.
When I am asked if our systems work, there is no way that we can deny that, yes, they do.
As of this month, February 2021, we have 9 years of practical experience and the business continues to go from strength to strength.
Reading the theoretical knowledge, it also justifies why we are right to exercise these beliefs. Why they continue to make such a huge difference to the children we work with.
No two children are the same, regardless of whether they have a recognised special educational need or disability. This has to be celebrated and the education we offer them, needs to reflect this.