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Teaching Methods and Sys Tems

drill, instruction, pupils, knowledge, educational and schemes

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TEACHING METHODS AND SYS TEMS. Teaching, or the imparting of knowl edge by the means of lessons or example, has been a matter of study, of discussion, of ac ceptance or rejection of methods and plans through the entire history of educational science. Talleyrand said that methods are the masters of teachers—ales methodes sont les maitres des maitres? The present trend of educational workers is to make method an aid to instruction. Two general basic schemes for the acquisition of knowledge have long pre vailed. The inductive lesson is used in early childhood where associations are made into classes, groups or families of things which are alike in use, structure and appearances. The child easily gains a percept of a chair when shown a piece of simple furniture with four legs, a seat and a back. He may find in process of time that various articles appear in its construction, wood, gra.ss, wire', cloth and different shapes have been evolved—low, broad, deep— but from his early percept he is able to classity all as chairs. On the other hand, a thing he cannot understand, he cannot use, he cannot classify, is useless to him. °When a general idea or principle, which ap plies to several concrete or individual instances so as to explain or give them meaning, is ob tained through the study of concrete or in dividual instances, the process of thought is inductive." Deduction is the opposite of in duction; instead of fortning one's own conclu sions from a series of facts, the student here employs those principles already reached out of his own experience or that established by others. The teacher employs the deductive method when he asks pupils to answer ques tions, to solve problems, to master situations by referring to rules, laws and axioms; the child uses it when he reduces a fraction to its lowest terms; by applying the rule that a frac tion may be reduced to its lowest terms by dividing both numerator and denominator by their common factors until no common factor remains. In the process of deduction, rules which apply may not always readily appear.

Different ones may be tried, schemes searched out, tried, rejected— ((guiding principles must sometimes be sought long and earnestly before they are found." The specific methods of the class period divide themselves into three fundamentals. testing, drilling, teaching. Testing the pupils' knowledge provides the instructor a starting point, showing the achievement of the class and its progress, and giving opportunity for classification and adjustment. Skilful tests, oral or written, help the teacher to individual ize pupils' needs in such a way as to enable her not only to offer definite instruction to the individual but class instruction as well. Care ful observation and a record of mistakes show the direction and nature of the pupils' errors. This test of knowledge lends itself admirably to schemes for review in that proper emphasis may be placed on the needs of the section.

Drilling in the use of the 'tools of the trade is as essential to the student as it is to the laborer. °Habit," James tells us, "is the result of oft-repeated action in the same line.* There are certain fundamentals in educational pro cedure which must be acquired in such a way as to be habitual.' The formation of letters in writing, the acquisition of the multiplica tion table, the ability to recognize easily a noun or a verb, the familiarity with the paradigms and conjugations of a foreign lan guage, ready application of axioms and laws, all results from oft-repeated action in the same line. They are reached by drill — constant, steady, repeated drill. Instruction without drill leads to chaos, loss of time, inefficiency, edu cational disaster. Drill should be constant. The multiplication table should be repeated so often that reaction is instant. Methods employed may be flash cards, group recital, simple problems, etc. Drill should be accurate. James again points out that to break an undesirable habit it was necessary never to lapse into it. This implies correct copy, clearly presented and easy of imitation, given under suds environ ment as will lead to skill.

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