by Oba Samuel


-By Lanre Akinola

I’m fortunate to watch a large number of lessons – being taught by brilliant teachers.  There are many things that they all do well, but one thing they all have in common is that they are great at modeling.  Now, it seems fairly obvious that if you want to teach somebody a new skill, you need to break the skill down into the key ‘bits’ and then show them very carefully how to do it – you can’t just expect it to happen by diffusion.



In my mind, this is what modeling is. It’s also becoming increasingly obvious to me that it is a key teaching skill that needs to be thought through and planned carefully, if effective learning is going to happen.  It’s also key in the development of independence:


Independence; If students are going to be able to work with growing independence, it needs to have been preceded with high quality teacher explanation and modeling. MODELING EXCELLENCE IN SCHOOL


I’ve seen some brilliant examples of this:


In art, when teachers  are very skillful, model particular techniques such as shading portraits, cutting out a nyon, print etc.

In Physical Education, when teachers demonstrate new techniques such as shot- putting, triple jump, javelin etc.  In PE, teachers are very good at using students to model things to their peers.

In English, when teachers are modeling how to produce a piece of creative writing from a visual stimulus.

In mathematics, when teachers model how to work through and solve a mathematical problem.

So,how do they do it?  Thinking about the best teachers I have seen, I think they all have the following things in common when they are modeling:


They make it explicit what it is they are going to be modeling and why it is important – and exactly what the students will be able to do as a result. MODELING EXCELLENCE IN SCHOOL

They break the skill down into steps.

They then show them how to do each step – whether this by physically doing it, or getting students to do it with them. MODELING EXCELLENCE IN SCHOOL

As they do it, they are questioning students about why they are doing it that way, so they develop an understanding of the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’.

They also point out common mistakes and misconceptions – and how to avoid these.

They use examples of excellent work – to demonstrate the high standards that the students should be aiming for.  This may be by using exemplary work as they are producing the piece of work, or the end product itself.

So, as a science teacher I’ve been thinking about how I can do this more effectively, with my Y10 and Y11 students.  One of the skills that students find quite tricky to master in science is writing responses to ‘6 mark long answer questions’ e.g. Describe and explain how forces affect the motion of a falling object.  So, last week when looking at these questions, rather than just expecting them to be able to ‘recall and use contextual knowledge’ or ‘plan their answer to ensure coherence and good English’, I modeled the process with them. MODELING EXCELLENCE IN SCHOOL


We started with recalling the knowledge that they had to be able to use in order to answer the question – by going back and looking at some of the slides and images we used during the lesson when we were covering that topic.

It was important to stress the contextual knowledge bit here. In the lesson we spoke about a falling parachutist, but the question was just asking about a falling object.  As very few falling objects have a parachute, this part of the explanation wasn’t needed when answering this question. MODELING EXCELLENCE IN SCHOOL

Next we spoke about the various command words in the question and what these actually meant e.g. describe – what forces were acting and their relative sizes; explain – how did this affect the motion at that point…and then how did this change the forces? MODELING EXCELLENCE IN SCHOOL

Having identified the command words for the question, we then used this prompt diagram to identify an appropriate one minute plan to use:


***Core Components of Montessori Education***

While there are many components that are integral to quality Montessori implementation, the American Montessori Society recognizes 5 core components as essential in Montessori schools—properly trained Montessori teachers, multi-age classrooms, use of Montessori materials, child-directed work, and uninterrupted work periods. Fully integrating all of them should be a goal for all Montessori schools.

The initial steps of the AMS Pathway of Continuous School Improvement, a framework for articulating the quality of AMS member schools, focus on where a school finds itself in its commitment to these 5 components.

  1. Properly Trained Montessori Teachers

Properly trained Montessori teachers understand the importance of allowing the child to develop naturally. They are able to observe children within a specific age range and introduce them to challenging and developmentally appropriate lessons and materials based on observations of each child’s unique interests, abilities, and development (social, emotional, cognitive, and physical).

In this way, the teacher serves as a guide rather than a giver of information. She prepares the classroom environment in order to support and inspire the developmental progress of each student and guide each child’s learning through purposeful activity.

A properly trained Montessori teacher is well versed in not only Montessori theory and philosophy, but also the accurate and appropriate use of Montessori materials. She has observational skills to guide and challenge her students, a firm foundation in human growth and development, and the leadership skills necessary for fostering a nurturing environment that is physically and psychologically supportive of learning.

It is essential that Montessori teachers have training in the age level at which they teach. This training prepares the Montessori teacher to design a developmentally appropriate learning environment, furnished with specially-designed materials, where students explore, discover, and experience the joy of learning. AMS recognizes Montessori teaching credentials issued by AMS, NCME, or AMI, or by any other Montessori teacher education programs that are accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE).

  1. Multi-Age Classrooms

Multi-age groupings enable younger children to learn from older children and experience new challenges through observation; older children reinforce their learning by teaching concepts they have already mastered, develop leadership skills, and serve as role models. This arrangement mirrors the real world, in which individuals work and socialize with people of all ages and dispositions.

AMS-approved multi-age groupings, as detailed in our School Accreditation Standards and Criteria, specify a 3-year age grouping in its accredited schools at the Early Childhood and Elementary age levels. At the Secondary level, groupings may be 2- or 3-years. Children from birth – age 3 may be grouped in varying multi-age configurations.

  1. Use of Montessori Materials

A hallmark of Montessori education is its hands-on approach to learning and the use of scientifically designed didactic materials. Beautifully crafted and begging to be touched, Montessori’s distinctive learning materials each teach a single skill or concept and include a built-in mechanism (“control of error”) for providing the student with a way of assessing progress and correcting mistakes, independent of the teacher. The concrete materials provide passages to abstraction and introduce concepts that become increasingly complex.

The AMS School Accreditation Commission and Teacher Education Action Commission offer these lists of suggested learning materials for each Montessori program level.

  1. Child-Directed Work

Montessori education supports children in choosing meaningful and challenging work of their own interest, leading to engagement, intrinsic motivation, sustained attention, and the development of responsibility to oneself and others. This child-directed work is supported by the design and flow of the Montessori classroom, which is created to arouse each child’s curiosity and to provide the opportunity to work in calm, uncluttered spaces either individually or as part of a group; the availability and presentation of enticing, self-correcting materials in specified curricular areas; teachers who serve as guides and mentors rather than dispensers of knowledge; and uninterrupted work periods, as described below.

  1. Uninterrupted Work Periods

The uninterrupted work period recognizes and respects individual variations in the learning process. During the work period, students are given time to work through various tasks and responsibilities at their own pace without interruption. A child’s work cycle involves selecting an activity, performing the activity for as long as s/he is interested in it, cleaning up the activity and returning it to the shelf, then selecting another activity. During the work period, teachers support and monitor the students’ work and provide individual and small-group lessons. The uninterrupted work period facilitates the development of coordination, concentration, independence and order, and the assimilation of information.

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AMS requires that accredited schools offer, at a minimum, a 2- to 3-hour work cycle, 4 days a week, at the Early Childhood level. Requirements for all Montessori program levels, I&T through Secondary, are detailed on our Montessori Uninterrupted Work Period webpage.




Education and child rearing


‘The noblest work in education is to make a reasoning man, and we expect to train a young child by making him reason! This is beginning at the end; this is making an instrument of a result. If children understood how to reason they would not need to be educated.”–Rousseau, Emile.

Rousseau’s philosophy of education is not concerned with particular techniques of imparting information and concepts, but rather with developing the pupil’s character and moral sense, so that he may learn to practice self-mastery and remain virtuous even in the unnatural and imperfect society in which he will have to live.


The hypothetical boy, Émile, is to be raised in the countryside, which, Rousseau believes, is a more natural and healthy environment than the city, under the guardianship of a tutor who will guide him through various learning experiences arranged by the tutor. Today we would call this the disciplinary method of “natural consequences.”


Rousseau felt that children learn right and wrong through experiencing the consequences of their acts rather than through physical punishment. The tutor will make sure that no harm results to Émile through his learning experiences.




Rousseau was one of the first to advocate developmentally appropriate education; and his description of the stages of child development mirrors his conception of the evolution of culture.


He divides childhood into stages: the first is to the age of about 12, when children are guided by their emotions and impulses. During the second stage, from 12 to about 16, reason starts to develop; and finally the third stage, from the age of 16 onwards, when the child develops into an adult.


Rousseau recommends that the young adult learn a manual skill such as carpentry, which requires creativity and thought, will keep him out of trouble, and will supply a fallback means of making a living in the event of a change of fortune.


Rousseau was a believer in the moral superiority of the patriarchal family on the antique Roman model.


Sophie, the young woman Émile is destined to marry, as a representative of ideal womanhood, is educated to be governed by her husband while Émile, as representative of the ideal man, is educated to be self-governing. This is not an accidental feature of Rousseau’s educational and political philosophy; it is essential to his account of the distinction between private, personal relations and the public world of political relations.


The private sphere as Rousseau imagines it depends on the subordination of women, in order for both it and the public political sphere (upon which it depends) to function as Rousseau imagines it could and should. Rousseau anticipated the modern idea of the bourgeois nuclear family, with the mother at home taking responsibility for the household and for childcare and early education.












Pestalozzi was a Romantic who felt that education must be broken down to its elements in order to have a complete understanding of it.

He emphasized that every aspect of the child’s life contributed to the formation of personality, character, and reason based on what he learned by operating schools at Neuhof, Stans, Burgdorf and Yverdon.

Pestalozzi’s educational methods were child-centered and based on individual differences, sense perception, and the student’s self-activity.

In 1819, Stephan Ludwig Roth came to study with Pestalozzi, and his new humanism contributed to the development of the method of language teaching, including considerations such as the function of the mother tongue in the teaching of ancient languages.

Pestalozzi and Niederer were important influences on the theory of physical education; they developed a regimen of physical exercise and outdoor activity linked to general, moral, and intellectual education that reflected Pestalozzi’s ideal of harmony and human autonomy.

Pestalozzi’s philosophy of education was based on a four-sphere concept of life and the premise that human nature was essentially good.

The first three ‘exterior’ spheres – home and family, vocational and individual self-determination, and state and nation – recognized the family, the utility of individuality, and the applicability of the parent-child relationship to society as a whole in the development of a child’s character, attitude toward learning, and sense of duty.

The last ‘exterior’ sphere – inner sense – posited that education, having provided a means of satisfying one’s basic needs, results in inner peace and a keen belief in God.









Froebel’s Kindergarten Curriculum Method & Educational Philosophy



Kindergarten was the first organized early-childhood educational method.



As a keen observer of nature and humanity, Froebel approached human education from both a biological and a spiritual perspective.



Froebel discovered that brain development is most dramatic between birth and age three, and recognized the importance of beginning education earlier than was then practiced.



The number of innovations that Froebel pioneered through his research is startling, and includes multiple intelligences (different learning styles), play-based, child-centered, holistic education, parent involvement/training, educational paperfolding, use of music, games, and movement activities for education.



Humans Are Creative Beings

From a spiritual perspective, Froebel understood that what separates us from other life forms is that we alter our environment. More than simple tool-building, our brains allow us to visualize in 3-D and imagine a different future. True education therefore must help children to understand their role as creative beings.




Play Is the Engine of Real Learning

Froebel concluded that play is not idle behavior but a biological imperative to discover how things work. It is pleasurable activity, but biologically purposeful. Froebel sought to harness this impulse and focus a child’s play energy on specific activities designed to lead them to create meaning from their experiences.




The Froebel® Gifts are educational materials developed for Friedrich Froebel’s original Kindergarten. Perhaps the world’s most intricately conceived playthings, these materials appear deceptively simple, but represent a sophisticated approach to child development. The Gifts are arguably the first educational toys.


Froebel developed Spielgabe (“play gifts”) for his Kindergarten schools. They were so named because they were both given the child (to be properly respected as gifts) and also function as tools for adults to observe the innate human “gifts” each child posseses from birth.




One observes the remarkable qualities and innovative ideas that make each child unique when they have the opportunity to explore and create according to Froebel’s method. Froebel spent a great deal of time observing children and refining the design of the Gifts.












Social Darwinism in Education






Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was known as one of the leading Social Darwinists of the 19th century.



As a Social Darwinist, Spencer helped gain acceptance of the theory of evolution which also became the basis for most of his books and teachings.



The principle of evolution believed in the process whereby all things change from the simplest of forms to the most complex.



It was Herbert Spencer who actually coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” which depicted a constant struggle amongst the species.  As a result of this continual struggle, the stronger species survived and multiplied while the weaker species perished. His work “Synthetic Philosophy” applied this evolutionary process to all branches of knowledge specifically biology, psychology, sociology and ethics.



Spencer was an agnostic who believed that the only way to gain knowledge was through a scientific approach.  He felt that religion was a futile attempt to gain knowledge of the unknown.



Spencer wanted to replace the theological systems of the Middle Ages with his philosophical system which stated that all knowledge could be placed within the framework of modern science.



Science was the only way to gain “useful”  knowledge.  It was through this “scientific” knowledge that people learned to live in society.



Spenser perceived society to be a progression of small homogeneous groups evolving into large complex groups over an extended period of time



Spencer was a noted non-conformist who detested authority and strongly emphasized individualism.



In Spencer’s work “Social Status”, he stated that individual freedom was extremely important and that the government should play a limited role in society especially in the schools.



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He did not believe in the public school system. His major criticism of the school system was that it did not prepare children to live in society.



Instead, Spencer believed in the private school system which competed for the brightest students.  Because of his belief in competition, conflict and struggle, Spencer felt that the most exemplary schools would eventually acquire the best teachers and students.



Spencer, not surprisingly, stressed the importance of the sciences in the schools.



Learning should be a sensory experience where a student interacts within his/her environment; a slow, gradual, and inductive process.



Children should be encouraged to explore and discover which would allow them to acquire knowledge naturally.



Education should also be a pleasant experience for children with the least restrictions possible.



Rote memorization and recitation were strongly opposed.



A student should only engage in those activities that would ultimately allow him/her to

survive in society.



Special emphasis was placed on the physical, biological, and social sciences while English grammar and literature were believed to be outdated.



Spencer became one of the major proponents of modern curriculum theory. He created quite an uproar in England with his curriculum theory because the major focus of education continued to be the Latin and Greek languages and literature.  In his work “What Knowledge is of Most Worth?” Spencer stated that this question needed to be answered before any curriculum was chosen or any instruction commenced.



Once this question was answered, it should be made certain that the curriculum aid in advancing survival and progress.



To achieve this advancement Spencer believed that there were five activities necessary in curriculum.  These activities assisted in-self preservation, performance of occupations, child-rearing, social and political participation, recreation and leisure.  Once again, the main goal was to teach subjects that would contribute to successful living.



Education today continues to be influenced by Spencer’s Social Darwinist theories.  In fact, his curriculum activities based on human needs are still being implemented in one form or another.



Spencer’s works- “Principles of Biology” , “Principles of Psychology”,  “Study of Sociology”







o   https://www3.nd.edu/~rbarger/www7/spenser.html




o   Foundations of Education, Ornstein & Levine


o   Educational Philosophy, Edward J. Power


o   Educational Ideologies, William F. O’Neill


o   Herbert Spencer on Education, Andreas M. Kazamias






Analytic philosophy


Bertrand Russell helped to develop what is now called “Analytic Philosophy.” Russell suggested, held that in order to know any particular thing, we must know all of its relations. Russell argued that this would make space, time, science and the concept of number not fully intelligible. Russell and Moore were devoted to clarity in arguments by breaking down philosophical position into their simplest components. Russell, in particular, saw formal logic and science as the principal tools of the philosopher. He did not think we should have separate methods for philosophy. Russell thought philosophers should strive to answer the most general of propositions about the world and this would help eliminate confusions. In particular, he wanted to end what he saw as the excesses of metaphysics.


Religion and theology


For most of his adult life Russell maintained that religion is little more than superstition and, despite any positive effects that religion might have, it is largely harmful to people. He believed religion and the religious outlook serve to impede knowledge, foster fear and dependency, and are responsible for much of the war, oppression, and misery that have beset the world.




While Russell wrote a great deal on ethical subject matters, he did not believe that the subject belonged to philosophy or that when he wrote on ethics that he did so in his capacity as a philosopher. Russell himself did not construe ethical propositions as narrowly as the positivists, for he believed that ethical considerations are not only meaningful, but that they are a vital subject matter for civil discourse. Indeed, though Russell was often characterised as the patron saint of rationality, he agreed with Hume, who said that reason ought to be subordinate to ethical considerations.


Philosophy of science


Russell claimed that he was more convinced of his method of doing philosophy than of his philosophical conclusions. Science was one of the principal components of analysis. Russell was a believer in the scientific method, that science reaches only tentative answers, that scientific progress is piecemeal, and attempts to find organic unities were largely futile. He believed the same was true of philosophy. Russell held that the ultimate objective of both science and philosophy was to understand reality, not simply to make predictions.


Russell’s epistemology went through many phases. Once he shed neo-Hegelianism in his early years, Russell remained a philosophical realist for the remainder of his life, believing that our direct experiences have primacy in the acquisition of knowledge.[2] While some of his views have lost favour, his influence remains strong in the distinction between two ways in which we can be familiar with objects: “knowledge by acquaintance” and “knowledge by description“.




Logical atomism


Perhaps Russell’s most systematic, metaphysical treatment of philosophical analysis and his empiricist-centric logicism is evident in what he called logical atomism, which is explicated in a set of lectures, “The Philosophy of Logical Atomism,” which he gave in 1918.[15] In these lectures, Russell sets forth his concept of an ideal, isomorphic language, one that would mirror the world, whereby our knowledge can be reduced to terms of atomic propositions and their truth-functional compounds. Logical atomism is a form of radical empiricism, for Russell believed the most important requirement for such an ideal language is that every meaningful proposition must consist of terms referring directly to the objects with which we are acquainted, or that they are defined by other terms referring to objects with which we are acquainted.


Philosophy of language


Russell made language, or more specifically, how we use language, a central part of philosophy




Views on Education    


“Education should take a form that enables it to be available to all children or at least all children capable of benefiting from it. The education system we should aim for is one in which every boy and every girl are given the opportunity to attain the highest level of education in this world.”


Russell argues that, not only should all children be given equal opportunities to receive the best possible education, but individuals with special needs should be given specific education.  He was aware of the danger of equal opportunity leading to inequality and the necessity of individual education where individuals with special needs were concerned.


Russell points out the dispute “whether education is for practicality or for embellishment; whether education should focus on technical skills that would train a merchant or a professional as quickly as possible.  We are faced with the problem whether education shall aim for packing the children’s brains with practical knowledge or giving them intellectual treasures.”  Russell’s answer to the question “whether education should be practical” is “of course it should,” because “the educational process is a means to an end, and not an end in itself.”  He goes on to say, “the essence of practicality is that it benefits something that is not purely practical.  A ‘good’ final result sometimes requires a long series of results.”


Education should aim for the happiness of each student.  Therefore, Russell opposed dividing the society into practicality and embellishment.  He argues that both types of knowledge should be provided.  Children should acquire knowledge for material gain as well as knowledge for intellectual pleasure.


Education should have both  utility and humanity as components.


Russell writes, “children are not the means but the purpose.  Educators must love children more than the nation or the church.  What is required of the educators and what the children should acquire is ‘knowledge dominated by love’.”


Russell is prescient in pointing out the importance of early education.  He emphasizes the importance of the role of parents in that.  In order for the education for happiness to work, the recipient of such education must be ready, too.  The formation of a child’s characteristics starts at the point of birth.  The role of parents as educators in the formative years is vitally important.  It is the foundation and the first step of the education for happiness.




o   http://www.matsuishi-lab.org/russelleducationJ_E.htm


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