Education is as old as the human civilization. Learning is older. Each and every species in the world continuously learn throughout their lives and add some progress for the next generations. Through such an eternal journey of learning we had become developed enough to be called homo sapience. Educational theories identified and developed by extra ordinarily talented thinkers. Each theory has certain policies and impacts on learning strategies. Based on the context of Bangladesh one certain theory may fit the best, which may not have the same significant appeal in other countries.
- Educational theories:
Educational theory is often confused with learning theory and instructional theory, even with administrative theory. Curriculum theory is another genre in this category of theories. All these theories are not mutually exclusive in terms of applications and functionalities. But each has distinctive characteristics. We look into the characteristics and impacts of Curriculum theory, Constructivism and Behaviorism in relevance with education in Bangladesh.
2.1 Curriculum theory: According to this theory learning happens on specific pre-plan of the authority. How or in which ways the knowledge will be achieved is not the consideration here rather designing a set of contents that would be taught for a purpose. A few characteristics are –
- The ultimate concern is “what” and “why” of educational authorities. Knowledge itself is to be identified first whether it is a process or a product. Neither teaching nor learning is a matter of primary consideration.
- It deals with alternative intellectual structures for organizing knowledge. Each alternative structure tries to find a solution of the most worth or most correct for a problem.
- It is macrocosmic. It moves toward to universal and abstract. School and state authorities are more concerned about what textbooks are used and what guidelines are followed in the classrooms. (Morris & Hamm, 1976).
2.2 Constructivism: Learning starts with the basis of the knowledge what the learners already have from lively experiences. Knowledge is constructed gradually with the experiences and practices. Some important points of considerations in this theory are –
- Social interaction plays an important role to build cognition.
- Cognitive development depends upon zone of proximal development, which is assisted by the group around, not experiences of alone.
- Learning is a search for meaning.
- Meaning and language are culturally embedded. Meaning comes through language.
- Scaffolding is the support and assistance that are needed during the time of learning, not necessary when the task is done.
- Reciprocal teaching ensures two-way communication. It emphasizes learning the whole and the parts as well.
- Curriculum is built based upon previous experience.
- Instruction method is to be interactive and collaborative (Muijs & Raynolds, 2005).
2.3 Behaviorism: This theory is based on classical conditioning theory that ensures changes in behaviors by repetition of occurrences. Operant conditioning makes the theory rich in all aspects. Some important points of considerations in this theory are –
- Learning happens on stimuli and response.
- Unconditioned stimuli help occur unconditioned responses.
- Strengthening of responses implies the behavioral change is more likely to be occurred.
- Conditional stimuli and Unconditioned stimuli imply conditional responses.
- Reinforcements, both primary and secondary, play important role as driving force.
- Reinforcements are Positive or Negative or Punishments. Punishments never help learn better (Ormrod, 1998).
2.4 Other paradigms: Other learning and instructional paradigms include Humanist theories and Cognitivist theories.
Humanist: Humanism focuses on human freedom, dignity and potential. Intentional act of individual with values is the central assumption of humanism. According to humanist theory an individual is to necessarily be studied as a whole, especially as the person grows and develops over the lifespan. In humanism, learning is student centered and personalized. Educator’s role is to facilitate the process towards the goal of developing self-actualized people.
Cognitivist: According to cognitivism, human brain is a multi-tasking parallel processor. Changes in behavior is observed, but only as an indication of happening in learner’s head. Learning engages entire physiology that is governed by a set of chemical characteristics. Cognitivism focuses on inner mental processes such as, thinking, memory, knowing and problem solving. Knowledge is seen as a mental schema in which constructional changes occur with learning. (Learning-Theories.com, 2007)
According to differences in Education level and societal characteristics a certain educational theory may be chosen as suitable. Bangladesh is not an exception. Theory analysts may consider the history of Education in Bangladesh and her socio-economic background with political realities for finding the appropriate educational theory. The latest National Education Policy 2010 does not have any comment or guideline on the educational theories. The Ministry of Education in Bangladesh may think of including strategic stand in the next Education Policy document.