The world of education and science is far huge in methods and means for effective and efficient learning and teaching. In present days the educational environment is rich in methodology and approaches to how the efficiency can be achieved in terms of contemporary stage of scientific progress. Owing to this assumption the historical background of education is full in eminent persons who tried to implement an original implementation of their own rationale of learning and teaching as well. The paper is devoted to the comparison of three theories, namely: Piagetian, Gestalt, and Behavioral ones. Within these three it is vital to work out a bilateral issue of which the best and the worst is. Furthermore, the characteristic feature of education in its complexity and versatile nature is taken into consideration as field for particular findings. To be precise, the provided observation is aimed at the certain constructive evaluation of three major theories in order to find out the conceptual and rational explanation of them with definite examples.
First of all, the historical cut of the sciences and their implementation in terms of education can be provided with the points on views of scholars on the process of education. The thing is that there is a dichotomy of two constituents: empirical and rational approaches. This is why the use of theories under analysis can be evaluated in terms of the alleged controversy ‘empiricism versus rationalism’ (Sawyer, 2006). Second, al three theories are widely used by the experts in education in order to maintain the diversity of personal vision in teaching. Hence, the reliability of the research can be estimated in its straightforwardness and features of particular anticipation of one theory in comparison with others.
Piaget theories are constructed on grounds of psychological attitude which is imposed in the opinion that beforehand children should be realized in the mind of a teacher as “the inevitable product of the unfolding of a genetic plan” (Shaffer & Kipp, 2009). In this respect the theories of Piaget, which were related to the works by Vygotsky, claimed the facts of upbringing processes. A psychological and philosophical perception of the theory can be outlined with the next four elements being the objects for surveys: active state of a child, nature and nurture relationships, qualitative and quantitative developmental changes and the holistic character of the development (Shaffer & Kipp, 2009). In this respect it is vital to highlight that Piaget was more intended to examine the thinking processes in children than to guide and support teachers. His predominant persuasion in the benefits of suchlike outline of teaching process makes his research more connected to the principles of cognitive perception.
Gestalt theory of Max Wertheimer is also psychologically-directed. In its urge for making difference in what an individual sees and how he/she perceives it Gestalt theory seeks for some explanation of difficult process in a man’s mind. In teaching this theory is underlined with the concepts of “proximity, similarity, continuity, and closure (Zakia, 2002, p. 28). This way of approach in education and teaching, in particular, presupposes the use of different tools for making the perception of images more effective. Visual aids are seen to provide the effect of Gestalt theory: “The main principle of Gestalt psychology supports this; the way in which an object is perceived is determined by the total context or field in which it exists” (Zakia, 2002, p. 28).
Behavioral theory contemplates the way in which due to behavioral features of an individual one can explain the inner background of him/her. In other words, behavioral approach in teaching is considered with the use of supporting rewards and gestures of a teacher, so that to interest pupils in subjects. Moreover, it was used with constant notion of pupils’ new attempts in making successes. This particular point is prescribed in the concept of a child which was imposed into the behavioral studies. This very concept evaluated a child, as “empty vessels” for tutors to fill them with knowledge and factual material. The use of psychological means such as encouragement is intended to make teacher-pupil communication more respectful and reliable: “Teachers emphasized the need to practice skills and children were encouraged to “try and try again” (Worthington & Carruthers, 2003, p. 18).
The comparison of theses theories relies on their philosophical background and time since which they are being practiced. First of all, it is necessary to outline that the best theory to be used in practice is the theory of Piaget. As it is seen, the reasoning of this approach points out that the autonomy and active “learning by doing” can be performed with rather peculiar shaping of children’s reality (Worthington & Carruthers, 2003). To say more, the active involvement of children in communication and interrelation with peers gives them more opportunities in estimating the objective reality owing to personal experiences. Problem-solving tasks in constructivism by Piaget satisfy the urge of pupils for having answers on their questions.
In practice the Piagetian theories can be used when building dialogues in English with play in the situation. The teacher recommends making up a story under the situation in a dialogical form. In this respect, the social approach can be designed out of the situation. Hence, a pupil gains bits of constructive information about the realities of the world and people living in it. The theory of Piaget can be implemented also in terms of direct and well-designed schedule of tasks and actions which are performed by a teacher.
The worst theory is behavioral. It is so due to the fact that behavioral methods of influencing on children have more superficial character, because a teacher just waits for positive feedbacks due to simple rewards and attitudinal background patterned with emotions. The essence of behaviorism in teaching comprises the notion that proper inputs will definitely be regarded with proper outputs in the situation where teacher is in the center point. In this respect behaviorism should be supported with Gestalt theory (Yurichenko, 2007). Such complex of theoretical understanding of the teaching process would help in making it more versatile in means and methods for performance of tasks. In class such approach is represented when teacher, for example, answers questions of multiple choices. After each right answer a teacher just thanks or smiles in response, thus, rewarding pupils. Here the inner possibilities cannot be disclosed in practice, clichés and planned character of lessons do not include, in fact, probable and essential nuances.
To sum up, the theoretical background in teaching is discussed in the paper on the examples of three theories. The best one is Constructivist theory and approach by Piaget. The worst is behavioral methods in teaching.
Sawyer, R. K. (2006). The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Shaffer, D. R. & Kipp, K. (2009). Developmental Psychology: Childhood and Adolescence (8th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
Worthington, M. & Carruthers, E. (2003). Children’s mathematics: making marks, making meaning. New York: SAGE.
Yurichenko, L. B. (2007). Perspectives on teaching and teacher issues. Carbondale, IL: Nova Publishers.
Zakia, R. D. (2002). Perception and imaging (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Focal Press.