Assistant teacher course/Theory formation

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Theory formation[edit | edit source]

Activity: lecture, group work
Group size: unlimited
Preparation: read Wikipedia
Instructors: 1
Duration: ?

Analogy[edit | edit source]

Analogy is sometimes referred to as "the core of cognition".

The instructor should be able to supply some ideas here as the participants may not yet have the necessary understanding for cognition. Reading the Wikipedia articles on analogy and cognition should be a good start for instructors.

Relevant observations the participants can make are that

  • associations appear to be the core of cognition, not analogies.
  • analogies are useful to convey abstract associations to complex knowledge.

What does it mean for teaching if analogies are important for the understanding of the learner?

  • What does the teacher need to know about the pupils to apply successful analogies?
  • Discuss the use of analogies in lectures.
  • Discuss the use of analogies in direct dialog with a pupil.
  • Discuss planning strategies that involve analogies.


Theory formation
Activity: lecture, group work
Group size: unlimited
Preparation: ?
Instructors: Younger instructors need to practice looking serious when they present silly theories.
Duration: ?

Theory formation[edit | edit source]

Challenging theories even if they are correct allows pupils to verify their own understanding by reconstructing each step that has been challenged. The simplest form of theory formation, one could say, is to motivate a pupil to rebuild an existing theory. This can, of course, only work if the pupils know that some theories are incorrect, otherwise the motivation to defend a position may be insufficient.



Conservation law of ideas[edit | edit source]

The "conservation law of ideas" is a hypothesis the assistant teachers can disprove. The instructor proposes the hypothesis and the assistant teachers have to find ways to disprove it. The hypothesis of a "conservation law of ideas" is that, due to circumstances not fully understood (probably of a psychological nature), every guidance or explanation you give has an opposite counter-effect on your own view or opinion.

The Conservation Law of Ideas says that, due to psychological circumstances not yet fully understood, every guidance or explanation you give has an opposite counter-effect on your own view or opinion.

  • When you challenge a faulty hypothesis you may believe in it yourself afterwards.
  • When you make somebody behave better you may behave worse yourself afterwards.
  • When you explain something you may not understand it anymore afterwards.

As an instructor you should not cast doubt on the hypothesis too soon; the participants should be allowed to express their own doubt. If the course doesn't object you can try to add the following statement:

  • When you try to teach an unconcentrated class you may lose your own concentration.

The statement may appear to make the "conservation law" even more convincing but losing concentration isn't covered by the definition because concentration is not a matter of view or opinion, so this is stretching the definition. You can create a false sense of authenticity with a literature reference:

  • Can the "conservation law of ideas" even be found as a metaphor in literature: Did the breakdown of the "conservation law of ideas" mean doom for Fantasia?

Afterwards the instructor should explain what is wrong with this "literature reference".

How can the conservation law be verified? The participants should discuss methods for measurement and verification and should discuss the theoretical possibility of the phenomenon. Further topics can be how somebody could have arrived at the hypothesis at all and if there is a grain of truth in the hypothesis. The grain of truth is, of course, that the four effects described can occur (especially for teenagers) but for different reasons that shouldn't be summarized as a conservation law and that what is called an effect of a conservation law here is actually a set of possible outcomes.

If a participant complained that the circumstances hardly were "not yet fully understood" the instructor could reply that the fact had changed just now, because now the course did appear to understand them. This should be restricted to a funny remark because it may be generally useful to make the claim that something wasn't yet fully understood to invite pupils to become scientists, so the phrase shouldn't be dismantled entirely. An instructor can go on to explain that the pupil would actually have to present further literature on the issue to falsify the claim.

The "conservation law of ideas" is actually a reversal of (the positive side-effects of) being a role model, imitation and teaching.

Insightful comments are:

  • This would make teaching pointless and impossible and the opposite rather appears to be the case.
  • The putative conservation law describes a collection of mistakes to be avoided.
  • It appears to be the view of education as a scarce resource, which it isn't.

If the described conservation law did exist that could be a reason to want to know what kind of influence one had on others, including the role model one might be for others, so one could try to avoid the expected effects. An instructor should explain that the hypothetical assumption, even if disproven, may be useful to reconsider what influence an assistant teacher could have on pupils and what influences pupils could have on an assistant teacher: If the "conservation law of ideas" looks convincing your perspective is likely to be wrong.

Patterns[edit | edit source]

ToDo: Introduction


Patterns for exercises in theory formation
Theory formation, Exercises (1)

Literature[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

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