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Saturday, December 3, 2016
Fundamental Laws of TeachOlogy: a Handbook For a Beginner Teacher
has its beginning.
evolution has stages and phases.
birth of a knowledgeable and skillful human follows specific laws, like
the birth of a human.
those stages is impossible.
Alternating those stages will lead to “birth
When we talk about science we do not usually think about what do we
mean when we use that word. The only time when we try to invoke the definition
of a “science” is when we want to run a comparison between a
science and a religion. But when we talk about a specific science, like
physics, or biology, or science of education, we automatically assume that all sciences
are more or less equal to each other by their structure. This assumption is
The full discussion about what science is would take too much time and
For the purpose of this post we can rely on a common sense and the use
of a clear analogy.
Let's say you read a paper on geopolitics. You read that such a
country is developed, and such a country is developing. Even if you don't know
the exact definition of what a developed country is or what a developing
country is you have the feeling which helps you to understand the difference;
you have the feeling which helps you to answer a question about different
countries: “Is that country developed or developing?”, e.g. Brazil is more
developed than Mexico but it still is a developing country; the USA is a developed
country (however, with underdeveloped public education); etc.
The exact same feeling can be used to differentiate between specific sciences.
Using the same terminology we can differentiate between developed sciences and
developing sciences. For example, we can ask if physics is a developed or
developing science. The answer is “Physics is a developed science”. There is no
doubt about that. Mathematics is a developed science, as well.
But what about education? The first note should be made that when we
say this word – “education” – we don’t usually mean a scientific research in
the field, but a human practice. That human practice – “education” – also includes
a research in the field. But we don’t have a special name for that type of a
research. However, we can say that the research in the field of education is ina developing stage, hence the science of education is a developing science.
Most of the sciences fall either in a category “developed” (like math
and physics) or developing (like education and economics).
Personally, I do not like this particular terminology.
I prefer calling a developed science just a “Science”. And I find calling
a developing science a “science” is just confusing, because it makes it to be
seen as a developed one. That is why I do not call a research in education a “science” but a “scientific field”.
As a human practice education includes a research related to the study
of properties and laws of learning and teaching processes. That research
represents a scientific field, which eventually will lead to the development of
a science of education (in the sense of a developed science).
Using the same word – education – for the whole human practice and for
a research in the field is confusing. We need a name which describes specifically
the field of scientific research in education. That field includes everything
related to learning and teaching. For all species learning is a very important evolutionary
process. We – humans – study properties of learning processes so we could use
the results of that study for the development the most efficient and effective
teaching practices. That is why I call this field of research – the field of
scientific research designated to study learning and teaching processes –
TeachOlogy. TeachOlogy is not yet a science, it is still a scientific field,
or, using the geopolitical terminology, TeachOlogy is a developing science. Even
if TeachOlogy is not yet a science, it already has many important discoveries.
Those discoveries so far have not been scientifically proved, but they can be
used as heuristic rules to plan and execute research practices, as well as
professional practices, in the field of learning and teaching.
TeachOlogy is a practical science of learning and teaching, offering a set of helpful and working heuristic rules (in the same sense as rules for problem solving in "How to Solve It", by Goerge Polya).
Fundamental Laws of TeachOlogy:
a Handbook For a Beginner
Teaching is guiding students through an arrangement of
learning experiences specifically designed for helping students with mastering
the subject, including understanding the topics, developing skills, and feeling
good about themselves.
Learning = goal making + memorizing + reiterating
Understanding = making sense of the things by
connecting the current experience with the previous knowledge, and – if needed
– modifying the previous knowledge, or re-describing the current experience.
If a person can learn the multiplication table and the
strategy for solving a quadratic equation, that person can learn any high level
intellectual knowledge (e.g. quantum gravitation), and there are only two
reasons for that not happening - no desire, or a wrong teacher.
If the only exercise students had been doing for 12 years is
squats, they will not be good at push-ups and pull-ups. Do not expect from
students an ability to think if all the had to do for 12 years was memorizing
facts and rules.
True learning never happens by watching, it happens by
You can watch for hours other people swimming, but if you
want to learn how to swim you have to get yourself into water and start trying.
Reading (and watching, and listening) helps to form an
initial vocabulary, and to set relationships between the current knowledge and
the upcoming one. Doing (speaking, writing, solving, explaining) forms the
The “learning space” of students in a class is (essentially)
three dimensional: students might differ by their 1. background (previously
learned knowledge and skills); 2. learnability (rate and volume of attaining
knowledge and skills as a function of time and effort); 3. motivation
(aspirations and willingness to learn).
A good teacher always can provide a reason for his/her
actions. Sometime it is "I just felt like doing this". But for a good
teacher that does not happen very often.
Kids do not know anything and learn everything from scratch.
When adults learn new skills, they repeat the same general steps and stages of
learning they used to use when where learning as kids (but usually/hopefully
Look at infants – they always try doing new things and want
to learn something new! Now look at school graduates – so many of them do not
want to learn anything new. A facility which does this to students cannot be
called “a school”.
The best gift a parent can give to a child is good habits; the
best gift a teacher can give to a student is love for learning and confidence
in ability to learn.
The most important social ability and a habit parents and
teachers can give to children is fighting the temptation for instant
The art of teaching is based on the science of learning, the
love for education, and the passion for sharing this love.
Everybody can drive, but not everyone is a good driver,
everybody can cook, but not everyone is a chef. Anyone can talk, but it is
wrong to think that anybody can be a good teacher.
A great teacher is not the one who just loves teaching, but
the one who loves learning and is passionate in sharing this love.
If you are a good teacher, your students understand your way
of thinking and copy what you do. If you are a great teacher, your students can
generate their own ideas and do things impossible to you.
For example – for a physics or math teacher.
If you are a good teacher, your students understand your
solutions to problems, if you are a great teacher, your students generate their
Teachers – like doctors – must take “a Hippocratic Oath” of
a teacher. i.e. to promise “never do harm to anyone”, because there is always
something more important in teaching than merely transmitting knowledge.
If a person does not like a challenge and does not like
learning, that person should not go into the business of education in any form;
she.he is not going to be a good teacher, or administrator, or a researcher in
There are three kinds of human practices/projects with the
goal of advancing human life: (a) scientific research - with the goal of discovering new patterns which can be used for making reliable predictions; (b) engineering and art - with the
goal of developing and building new devices (and systems of
devices), or developing artifacts of art; (c) social
advancement - with the goal of a social advancement, developing or
adopting new collective practice(s) (new - for the given social group, but may
have been used already by other people). Education combines all three.
Every human practice has some elements of a scientific
research: when we start a project, we generally have some understanding of what
we want to achieve and how we want to achieve that (“a hypothesis”), and how
will we assess (measure) how close we are to the goal (“facts”).
The difference between a scientific research and a social
project is in “what utilizes what”.
In a scientific research, some social activity is being used
as a vehicle to obtain new knowledge. In that case, some advancement in some
social practice represents a “collateral” result of the research.
In a social project, some scientific knowledge is being used
to achieve positive changes in a certain social situation. In this case, some
newly recorded knowledge represents a “collateral” result of the project.
Physics represents the most developed scientific approach to
study the Nature. When a physicist is trying to understand how the Nature
works, he/she uses a scientific approach based on clear and uniformly used
terminology, and on well-defined and uniformly used measuring tools and
procedures. Everyone who teaches science has to use the same scientific
approach. Everyone who teaches how to teach science has to use the same
The main goal of education is
equipping students with the ability to succeed in life. The highest level of
education is achieved when students can create solutions to problems they have
never solved before.
Since the solution has to be
constructed, a student most probably will be making mistakes.
True (actual, full, complete)
learning cannot happen without making mistakes.
Mistakes are inevitable and
There is no shame in making a
There is shame, though, in insisting
that you didn't, when even you already know that you did.
A culture where mistake are being
punished cannot succeed in Science, Technologies, Engineering, and
Mathematics (and intellectually in general; but, keep in mind, that
"grading" is not necessary "punishment").
This is just a fact, that the same assignments (e.g. physics problems)
may be too easy for some students and too difficult for
other students. In both cases the learning is not
happening, because a student did not have to learn anything, or could
not learn anything. Hence, when designing teaching practice a teacher has to
manage the difficulty of the assignments - for
all students - making assignment not too easy and not too hard, i.e.
placing them in the Zone of Proximal Development of the students.
People who praise the Socratic
method should keep in mind how he ended his life.
For Socrates, knowledge a person has, defines that person as
a whole. When Socrates said: “I know that I know nothing” he did not just
accept limits of his knowledge, he accepted his limits as a human being.
Unfortunately, expecting the same from others had lead Socrates to willingly
A law is a statement of an existing pattern. This statement
usually has a verbal or a mathematical representation.
II) What does a law do?
A law allows to explain observed phenomena. But the most
important application of a law is to predicting events. A law allows to make a
statement about (a) what events will be possible for happening (within given
limits, under given circumstances, within a given timeframe), and (b) among
possible events, what is a chance for a given event to happen.
III) What is “a science”?
The definition of a science is multi-dimensional.
(a) A science is an internally consistent body of knowledge
based on the scrupulous and logical analysis of a vast amount of data.
(b) A science is a specific human practice which mission is
to obtain and describe natural and social patterns (a.k.a. laws) in order to
use those patterns for making reliable predictions.
(shortly: the mission of a science is making predictions; if
making reliable predictions is not yet possible, the field is still in a
(c) The development of a science usually has two stages:
1) a pre-science stage, when the main goals of human
* developing a language (mainly naming objects and
processes), tools and procedures (including specifically designed experiments)
for collecting and classifying data, and
* collecting and classifying data, and
* formulating the set of patterns describing the phenomena
within a specific domain
2) a science stage, when the main goals of human
* using the developed set of patterns for improving human
* using the developed set of pattern for advancing the
Avery human practice presents a certain combination of
pre-scientific activities, scientific activities, art, engineering, and chaotic
trials. The activity which dominates the practice gives the name to the