chapter  8
12 Pages

The logical and psychological aspects of teaching a subject

Most teachers of a form of knowledge or understanding at some time ask themselves the fundamental questions: In what ways and to what extent is the effective teaching of a subject determined by the nature of the subject itself and in what ways and to what extent is the teaching dependent on factors studied in the psychology of learning and teaching? Or putting these questions another way, how are syllabuses and methods determined by the characteristics of what is to be taught and how are they to be determined by our empirical knowledge of teaching methods? Indeed, what sort of questions are questions about how best to teach a subject? This chapter is an attempt to make clear something of what is involved in answering these questions. It will, however, be concerned almost entirely with the teaching of those subjects which are indisputably logically cohesive disciplines. I have argued elsewhere1 that although the domain of human knowledge can be regarded as composed of a number of logically distinct forms of knowledge, we do in fact for many purposes, deliberately and self-consciously organise knowledge into a large variety of fields which often form the units employed in teaching. The problems that arise in teaching such complex fields as, say geography and educational theory, are much more difficult to analyse than those arising in such forms, as say, mathematics, physics and history. And if the teaching of such fields necessarily involves the teaching of certain areas of more fundamental forms of knowledge, then it is only when questions about the latter have been settled that we can hope to answer questions about the former.