Child Development and Teaching

In her recent blog post, Rae Pica asked a question that resonated with me. She said, “What If Everybody Understood Child Development?” 

I have been asking the same question since I began working in the dean’s office at my school. As the assistant dean at a comprehensive high school site, I had many occasions to deal with conflicts between students and student misbehaviors in classrooms. Believe me. There isn’t a day I don’t think about how much I would love to have learned more about the adolescent psychology. 

Ask high school teachers. Many will tell you that they never received instructions on adolescent psychology. They will also tell you how much they would love it. 

I think that was Ms. Pica’s point. She would like us all to become educated in child development, because we are all in the business of educating our children. I think that some of the examples she included are appalling.

But, having been an administrator, I must say sometimes we suspend students for additinoal reasons. We just can’t put all of them on paper because the legal system is limited in dealing with a full array of human behaviors. 

Although I agree with what Ms. Pica is arguing, I caution people not to jump on the bandwagon of criticizing the administrator at the school without knowing all the details of the case.

Why Do Teachers Need More Theories in The Classroom

I am a bit afraid to complete this blog for fear of what other teachers might say about my declaration. Yes. I believe that the teachers need more theories. 

When I was a young, inexperienced teacher, I used to think that theories are for professors who never had to work with any real students in their lives. I believed these professor who only lived in their heads should quit wasting my time by giving me a whole bunch of theories, and just tell me what to do with my real, live, and difficult students.

But now after 10 years of teaching, I finally realized what they were trying to do. They were trying to make my job a bit easier by providing a framework and patter that I could apply to 90% of the time. 

I came to this conclusion because I realized how to be a better teacher. For example, I realized what I was doing wrong with grammar instruction. I used to focus on the “exceptions” to the rules. Now I teach my students about the patterns in English. 

And I think the theories can be that: an anchor for teachers to find their center in their overall instructional practices. Just as a leader will rely on his or her philosophy to guide his overall decision making process, teachers need more sound theories to ground themselves.

Teachers are in human business. As a result, it is too easy to let us get swept away by the minute details of our day-to-day problems. We need sound theories to keep us steady.