In teaching, there is the teacher and the students, who work together to educate the students about the particular subject matter. This system of teaching is designed to modify the students' behavior, experience, understanding, and knowledge.
Originally, schooling was considered merely a process of learning, memorization, association, and practice. However, the growth of students' intellect coincides with their development through different phases: coordination, symbolization and visual recognition, language, logical thought, and eventually formal structure and explanation. Any attempt at educating a child intellectually must take into account these characteristics. Education must pace development, not ignore it or follow it. A child's educational growth includes physical, emotional, and mental maturation, experience, formal teaching through language, and problem-solving.
The teacher's role involves sharing knowledge and experience with the students at an appropriate time. The teacher leads the students through different learning situations to encourage independent thought, critical analysis, realization, and problem-solving.
The subject matter has an influence on the total teaching environment. Subject matter is traditionally divided into the headings of languages, humanities, sciences, mathematics, and arts. Each group of subjects has something in common with other groups in terms of the demands it makes on the students, but is also unique in its method of development. Languages require verbal learning, primarily based on oral work. The humanities call for an understanding of cause-effect relationships. The sciences require induction from experience, and deduction when scientific laws are formulated into mathematical terms. Mathematics calls for the ability to symbolize and deduce. The arts require creative freedom.
Classroom structure is dynamic in terms of teaching methods, decision-making, the hierarchy of its members, and the existence of cliques. The students conduct themselves under the influence of the group, and each student's achievement and attitude is subject to evaluation by the group.
In most classes, the age range of the students is approximately one year. This narrow range allows for uniformity of the subject matter being taught. However, in rural one- and two-teacher schools, students from different age groups and ability levels are mixed together. This changes the teaching method, since it now must cope with smaller subgroups which progress at different rates and need to cover different material. The teacher must find a way to coordinate the work of the smaller groups so that equal attention is given to each group.
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