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Importance of Education Theories

“There is nothing so practical as a good theory” (Lewin, 1946) Good theory, guides effective action by turning knowledge into wisdom. It is a process of forming new ideas.

The importance of thorising in education is to underpin that what students are doing, along with supported research, discussion, argument and a range of acedemic reading. Furthermore, it is best practice for students to regularly review their work from a critical aspect and ensure what they are writing reflects the comprehension of a fellow higher educated student. Being able to collate a range of ideas and analyse whether they compliment one another or even contrast, then reflect how they relate to one’s own thoughts and experiences. In essence, how theorists provoke us and how we react or correspond to their provocation.

“Being theoretical, in an active, engaged way, is different to simply learning theory that other people have come up with and writing about it” (MacDougall et. al, 2009).

Education draws on a range of academic disciplines such as; Psychology, Sociology, Cultural Studies, Philosophy and History of Education. In particular, Howard Gardener’s theory looks at different forms of intelligence in the form of learner dispositions, be they visual, auditory or kinaesthic learners and that intelligence is measured in different forms. (Gardener, 1993). If this is indeed the case, we then need to ask why our education system still favours formal assessment which is often tested within stressfull conditions, that produce high anxiety for the individual. It is here one needs to take a step back and examine the broader social structure on how our society finds the need to structure and rank its people by merely determing a portfolio of qualifications in order to function within the correct levels deemed appropriate by society itself.

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However good a theory, it cannot simply stand alone as a theory itself without being put into practice and tested in relation to other ideas by exploring, reflecting on and reworking to create new ideas. “This ‘re-mixing’ is a way of thinking that is dialectical” (MacDougall et. al, 2009). Within the study of education, applying dialectical thinking is an important skill which contributes to interpretaion of educational phenomena.

Socialogical imagination was introduced by Charles Wright Mills in 1959 and looked at how the impact on the individual differs if the same imact affects society as a whole and how a social structire (education) contributes to social problems. “The social imagination enable us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two with society” (Wright Mills 1959). Critical thinking is a means to obtaining crutial knowledge. We should not simply take something as given, but by applying a social imagination look at things from  new and different perspectives allowing us to consider alternative posibilities.

Higher eduation should see the adult student as a more intrinsic learner, as they see the benefit in the end goal. However, how they travel on that journey can differ. As John Biggs imples, some students will tend towards taking a deep approach while others will tend towards taking a surface approach (Biggs, 1999).

Interestingly, Bloom suggests that student engagement has a role to play in the way we learn and identified behavioural, emotional and cognitive as three dimensions to student engagement, shown in the example below (Bloom, 1956).

I can see how these two work hand in hand, as a deeper approach to learning sees students ‘engaging’ with and intentionally seeking in gaining that extra knowledge, as well as welcoming the challenge of deeper learning to improve their own intelligence.

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I believe that during my last assignment, I actually took those positive steps towards becomming a student of deeper learning. I know it was because the subject matter was of great interest to me and as it related greatly to my role with school which motivated me more into seeking that greater depth of knowledge. “I was pleased with obtaining my distinction, it proved to me that I had the ability to achieve more knowing I had that added value of interest in this specific assignment” (Hastilow-Ali, S. 2017). I now hope that I will be able to apply the same strategies to my ‘specialism’ and interact more vigorously relating new ideas to previous experiences.

The surfaced level approach sees the ‘less engaged’ student sticking closely to the courses requirement throughout and doing the bare minimum to get by, as their only goal is the qualification itself.

A stategic approach to learning sees the type if student who desires a positive outcome. They will organise their time and ensure that the materials and resources for studying are appropriate. “The strategic approach derives from an intention to obtain the highest possible grades and involves adopting well-organised and efficient study methods” (Entwistle, 1992).

I have found in writing assignments on how I learn as a student, and what its like to be in higher education, are subjects which have not stimulated me into wanting to seek a greater depth of knowledge. This I equate to being a compulsory part of the course, but of little relevance to my current professional role. Here is where I struggle, as being bombarded with lots of reading material on theory that generally has no great interest to me leads me to switch off. I then have to really work hard at encouraging and motivating myself to press on and work through the necessary steps to help me achieve the understanding of the subject matter I need for my assignment. Therefore, I definitely see myself as dipping in between a surface and strategic learner for the above subjects in question.


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