2
$\begingroup$

Wikipedia shows that in 1886 John Milton Gregory outlined his "The Seven Laws of Teaching"; asserting that a teacher should:

  • Know thoroughly and familiarly the lesson you wish to teach; or, in other words, teach from a full mind and a clear understanding.
  • Gain and keep the attention and interest of the pupils upon the lesson. Refuse to teach without attention.
  • Use words understood by both teacher and pupil in the same sense—language clear and vivid alike to both.
  • Begin with what is already well known to the pupil in the lesson or upon the subject, and proceed to the unknown by single, easy, and natural steps, letting the known explain the unknown.
  • Use the pupil's own mind, exciting his self-activities. keep his thoughts as much as possible ahead of your expression, making him a discoverer of truth.
  • Require the pupil to reproduce in thought the lesson he is learning—thinking it out in its parts, proofs, connections, and applications til he can express it in his own language.
  • Review, review, REVIEW, reproducing correctly the old, deepening its impression with new thought, correcting false views, and completing the true.

My question is in today's on-line high stakes testing environment, how many of his "Laws of Teaching" are still relevant; in particular, to the teaching of computer science at the K12 grade school level.

$\endgroup$
4
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Why would you think any of them were no longer relevant? To abandon these at K-12 is probably foolish. $\endgroup$
    – Buffy
    Apr 17 at 21:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ That many of the on-line high stakes "tutorials" do not follow the laws does not invalidate them. Good teaching is still good. $\endgroup$ Apr 17 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ However, see the Moore Method of instruction. $\endgroup$
    – Buffy
    Apr 17 at 21:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @user178758 Welcome to Computer Science Educators SE. I see you cross-posted basically the same question, but asking about math education instead, on the Mathematics Educators site at How many of "The Seven Laws of Teaching" are still relevant for teaching maths today?. Note that such cross-posting of relatively similar questions, even though they each ask it from a somewhat different perspective, is generally discouraged here. However, if you do this, please at least included a link to the other related question. Thanks. $\endgroup$ Apr 18 at 0:42
2
$\begingroup$

These "laws" mostly reflect how people learn, so they are still quite relevant. But going through:

  1. ("Know thoroughly and familiarly the lesson you wish to teach; or, in other words, teach from a full mind and a clear understanding") is interesting in a CS context, since we often don't have fantastic knowledge of the material, because it is so new. We have a question about that which has some interesting discussion on teaching what you don't really know.

  2. ("Gain and keep the attention and interest of the pupils upon the lesson. Refuse to teach without attention.") This is more a matter of philosophy, I think. I sometimes do this, but I sometimes quite deliberately do not. It depends on the goal of the moment. As an example, there are sometimes things that I will do to help a subset of the students in my class. I will even sometimes accompany this with directions such as, "if you weren't sure about number 3, then I will go through it very carefully because understanding this idea is key to understanding this field of study. However, if you got it right and feel quite confident that you understand ____, you can turn your attention to the lab for the next ten minutes or so."

  3. ("Use words understood by both teacher and pupil in the same sense—language clear and vivid alike to both.") This is (I hope) always the goal of communication, no?

  4. ("Begin with what is already well known to the pupil in the lesson or upon the subject, and proceed to the unknown by single, easy, and natural steps, letting the known explain the unknown.") This is surprisingly controversial. (Consider Anthony Gregorc's learning categories) However, it pretty well reflects what we know about how the brain learns. (See the section on encoding), and it is certainly (uncontroversially, as far as I know) the most time-efficient way to impart information. You might argue that there are possible long-term benefits to less-efficient means of instruction, such as supporting the soft skills in students of teaching themselves. That is a controversial position, but certainly one that many people hold, particularly with older students, when it arguably has the least benefit.

  5. ("Use the pupil's own mind, exciting his self-activities. keep his thoughts as much as possible ahead of your expression, making him a discoverer of truth.") This is edge-of-your-seat teaching, and is unquestionably good! Though it can be quite hard to do well -- some topics lend themselves to this more than others.

  6. ("Require the pupil to reproduce in thought the lesson he is learning—thinking it out in its parts, proofs, connections, and applications til he can express it in his own language.") Other than the controversy I mention in #4, this is clearly good teaching in any topic.

  7. ("Review, review, REVIEW, reproducing correctly the old, deepening its impression with new thought, correcting false views, and completing the true.") This is how you remove misunderstandings and help students transfer information to long-term storage, so it is vital. Again, in some classrooms, teachers may deliberately choose not to do this, as it could be viewed as hand-holding when students should learn to be independent learners, even at the cost of immediate progress.

I've mentioned a few times the notion of allowing instruction to move slower in order to help students develop their own learning skills. I almost entirely fall into the other camp, and believe that direct instruction can also help to create self-learning skills, but much of that depends on the richness of the information being presented. I also provide some direct instruction on how to self-learn, and how students can monitor their own minds and understanding more effectively. I don't have any way to know whether I am correct in this approach; it's unstudied, so it is more philosophical at the moment.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.