Term Paper: Education and the Teacher-Learner Relationship

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[. . .] "Research is clear that adult intelligence is reliant upon how well the brain has been shaped by experiences through life. These experiences, which are gained in a variety of ways by adults, must be stored in the memory areas of the brain and made available for recall when the need arises" (Wilson, 2006). So much of a person's life experience is the result of education, and if that educational experience is a negative one, which fails to acknowledge and validate personal differences in learning styles and philosophies, then the adult will equate learning with something negative.

Generally, I intend to take a pragmatic approach to education and use hands-on learning methods to help students incorporate and develop knowledge. However, that approach will borrow heavily from other educational schools. For example, I will consider how the individual will interact with the subject matter, rather than assuming that hands-on learning is always better. I think of the example of frog dissections; while I understand that they can be valuable lessons in basic biology for some students, I also understand that some people may fine the entire process distasteful. Therefore, I would incorporate the individualistic components of idealism in my approach to those students. I also feel as if a combination of pragmatism and idealism provides a strong approach for most of the liberal arts; by encouraging students to create their own works, the educator promotes the type of introspection that characterizes idealism. I believe that the sciences and math have to be approached in a rules-based fashion because they are based upon facts and rules. However, the further one gets into the sciences, particularly physics, the more difficult it is to distinguish between science and metaphysics. Determining the correct approach for math and science students really depends upon the student's age and philosophical orientation, because Einstein could not have developed the Theory of Relativity had he been constrained by science as it was understood during his time period, but he also could not have developed it without an understanding of basic mathematical rules and principles.

Teacher-Learner Relationships

A teacher-learner relationship is different from the relationships that people have in other parts of their life. Trust, admiration, and respect, while helpful in a teacher-learner relationship, the reality is that a learner can learn from someone whom they do not trust, admire, or respect. Learning is not based on the development of positive feelings. While I do not think that teachers should avoid having positive relationships with their students, I believe that the emphasis on positive relationships has been detrimental to teaching, as a profession. I agree with the results of Brekelmans, et al. that the ideal student-teacher relationship is characterized by dominance by the teacher and cooperation by the student (2002). The teacher must be able to demonstrate mastery of the subject and be able to convey that mastery to the student. To have a student questioning the teacher's ability to teach the subject matter is disruptive, not just to that student, but to the other students in the classroom. Of course, to me this implies that teachers must be fully competent in their chosen subject matter, so that students are not given a reason to challenge the teacher's mastery of the subject.


For modern educators, diversity is something that they will encounter and have to incorporate into their teaching style. Many people remain dismissive of diversity, suggesting that people need to conform to prevailing cultural norms or that they have no place in modern society. To me, this idea is a very dangerous one. When one derides the personal beliefs and cultural norms of a people, it is dangerously close to deriding the person. Insulting and deriding others is a stepping stone into other brutal treatment of others. J.P. Moreland discussed his own transformation in his approach to people as follows, "I move away from using derogatory language against others, calling them twits, jerks, or idiots (Matthew 5:22), and increasingly mesh with the respect and endearment for persons that naturally flows from God's way. This in turn transforms all of my dealings with others into tenderness and makes the usual coldness and brutality of human relations, which lays a natural foundation for abuse and murder, simply unthinkable" (Moreland, 1997).


Teaching requires a balancing act on the part of the educator. On the one hand, an educator's job is to teach a student how to survive and thrive in the surrounding culture, and teachers do this by passing along cultural norms and values in additional to factual information. On the other hand, an educator's job is to encourage students to think in ways that challenge established norms, so that the individual can provide the greatest benefit to society. Not all teachers can be all things to all students; it is an impossible task. However, as an educator, I hope to remember that all students are individual human beings capable of learning, to try different approaches with students who are not responding to my traditional approaches, and to remember that my own values and norms may differ from those of my students without changing the relative value or worth of any of us.


Brekelmans, M., Wubbels, Th., & Brok, P. den. (2002). Teacher experience and the teacher-

student relationship in the classroom environment. In S.C. Goh & M.S. Khine (Eds.),

Studies in educational learning environments: an international perspective

(pp.73-99). Singapore: World Scientific.

Cohen, L. (1999). Philosophical perspectives in education. Retrieved May 2, 2013 from Oregon State University website: http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/ed416/PP2.html

Gutek, G. (1995). A history of the western educational experience. Prospect Heights:

Waveland Press, Inc.

Moreland, J.P. (1997). Love your God with all your mind: The role of reason in the life of the soul. Colorado Springs: NavPress Books.

Stoddart, W. (1985). The role of culture in education. Studies in comparative religion, 17

(1&2). Retrieved May 2, 2013 from Studies in Comparative Religion website: http://www.studiesincomparativereligion.com/public/articles/The_Role_of_Culture_in_Education-by_William_Stoddart.aspx

Wilson, C. (2006). No one is too old to learn: Neuroandragogy: A theoretical perspective on adult brain functions and adult learning. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse. [END OF PREVIEW]

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