I just tried the Teaching Perspectives Inventory, created by professors from UBC’s Faculty of Education. It’s an interesting tool to “collect your thoughts and summarize your ideas about teaching” (TPI Website). The TPI is supposed to help teachers understand their views on the “5 Perspectives” on Teaching:
- Transmission – “substantial commitment to the content or subject matter”
- Apprenticeship – “teachers are highly skilled practitioners of what they teach”
- Developmental – “planned and conducted from the learner’s point of view”
- Nurturing – “long-term, hard, persistent effort to achieve comes from the heart, not the head”
- Social Reform – teaching that “seeks to change society in substantive ways”
(Quotes from TPI Website – The “Five Perspectives”)
I took the TPI and found it quite easy and short to complete. Here are my results:
The context for my “teaching” was more of an instructional design/advisory role in a Career Development co-curricular course. The two nearly dominant teaching perspectives for me were “Apprenticeship” and “Nurturing”. Without going into much more in-depth detail about an exact interpretation of the results (the interpretation page was quite confusing to decipher), I would have to say “off the bat” that it makes sense that Apprenticeship is a dominant perspective, based on what I can reflect on as my beliefs in teaching.
I like to “do” things rather than talk about them or “transmit” them to an audience and just have them listen. I’d rather do something, show the student, and have them go on and do it while I watch. It’s much more “hands-on” experiential type of learning. Experiential learning is an ancient approach to learning, with even Aristotle saying “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them” – (Experiential Learning in Wikipedia). I like the idea of showing students how to do something, monitoring whether it’s too hard or too easy for them (TPI refers to it as the “zone of development”), and then having them work more independently once they have some mastery of the subject or skill.
I show up as having a “35” in nurturing with an even stronger belief (13 as opposed to 12 in Apprenticeship), so there must be something going on here. I do believe in “promoting a climate of caring and trust” and helping them set “challenging but achievable goals” (TPI Website – The “Five Perspectives”). So this idea of nurturing is focused on caring for the student, having compassion on them but not giving up on principles, goals and learning objectives. It seems that the “Nurturing” perspective is most closely aligned with the concept of the teacher as facilitator or “guide by the side”. That is something I fervently believe in as well.
My third,slightly less dominant perspective is “Developmental” and admittedly I don’t do this very well so I’m surprised it is third on the list. The idea of helping students move from more simple to complex thinking, developing “increasingly complex and sophisticated cognitive structures for comprehending content” (TPI Website – The “Five Perspectives”) is quite frankly a daunting task. I can certainly say that I hold these principles as ideals of good teaching, but can’t think immediately of a really good experience where I succeed in actually getting students to move from simpler to more complex thinking. Striving for that would involve a lot of eliciting of critical thinking skills from the students, which is certainly something very needed in the higher education field especially when it comes to student career development.
Beyond that I see that “Transmission” is much lower and “Social Reform” is a recessive perspective. In my position and influence I simply don’t have the leverage, means or mandate to instil social reform in students. It’s more about empowering individuals to be the best they can, not trying to change society. But I guess you could argue that if you empower enough individuals to pursue their passions, grow in their critical thinking skills and really gain the hands-on experience they need, they you would in the end change society.