What is pedagogy?
Pedagogy is often confused with curriculum. The latter defines what is being taught, while pedagogy actually refers to the method in how we teach—the theory and practice of educating. Pedagogy is the relationship between learning techniques and culture, and is determined based on an educator’s beliefs about how learning should, and does, take place. Pedagogy requires meaningful classroom interactions and respect between educators and learners. The goal is to help students build on prior learning and develop skills and attitudes and for educators to devise and present curriculum in a way that is relevant to students, aligning with their needs and cultures.
Shaped by the teacher’s own experiences, pedagogy must take into consideration the context in which learning takes place, and with whom. It isn’t about the materials used, but the process, and the strategy adopted to lead to the achievement of meaningful cognitive learning.
In a literal sense, the word pedagogy stems from the Greek word that effectively means “the art of teaching children.” More specifically, agogos means leader in Greek, and pedagogue refers to teacher. Paidagogos were slaves tasked with taking boys to school and back, teaching them manners and tutoring them.
Why is pedagogy important?
Having a well thought-out pedagogy can improve the quality of your teaching and the way students learn, helping them gain a deeper grasp of fundamental material. Being mindful of the way you teach can help you better understand how help students achieve deeper learning. And it can, in turn, impact student perception, resulting in cooperative learning environments. The proper approach helps students move beyond simple forms of thinking as defined in the Bloom’s taxonomy pyramid, like basic memorization and comprehension, to complex learning processes like analysis, evaluation, and creation. Students can leverage their preferred learning styles with a teaching process that supports them, and the way they like to learn.
Pedagogy can facilitate students not only in gaining deeper learning of subject matter, but also in applying that learning experience to their own homes and communities, and to their own personal experiences and situations. Teachers can work together with students to come up with the best way for subject matter to be studied.
How does pedagogy impact the learner?
As noted, with a clear and concise pedagogic understanding, students can comfortably share ideas, and have a clear understanding of how curriculum will be approached and what’s expected of them. Essentially, everyone is on the same page.
Students not only expand their knowledge base, but also understand how to use that knowledge in authentic and relevant real-world scenarios and contexts, as well as connect concepts from lessons with situations in their own lives. They can draw on their own cultural knowledge as well, to come up with unique and personalized thoughts and opinions. Concrete evidence, facts, and data, are combined with the exploration of cultural differences of others to further expand knowledge, allowing the student to reflect more objectively on new concepts, and open their minds to different approaches.
Through your pedagogical process, students can also learn what approaches work best for them, which learning activities and learning styles they tend to gravitate towards, and how to develop concepts and build mental models to further their learning. Overall, active learning makes student engagement rise. Students get to participate in personalized teaching strategies, rather than be mere spectators in the classroom.