Contextualising Theory In Practice Essay

2066 words - 8 pages

PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE PORTFOLIO II:CONTEXTUALISING THEORY IN PRACTICESTUDENT: RICHARD WHITELAM"I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand"(Confucius date unknown)Practice is often depicted as the act of doing something and is usually contrasted to theory. From theory can be derived general principles (or rules). These in turn can be applied to the problems of practice. Theory is 'real' knowledge, while practice is the application of that knowledge to solve problems or practically conduct the theory received. This particularly applies to the Senior Command Course where the vast majority of our theory lectures are transformed to practice at a later stage of the course. In many ways, this is a legacy of Aristotle and his three-fold classification of disciplines as theoretical, productive or practical. (telos translates as 'purpose').The purpose of a theoretical discipline is the pursuit of truth through contemplation; its telos is the attainment of knowledge for its own sake. The purpose of the productive sciences is to make something; their telos is the production of some artefact. The practical disciplines are those sciences which deal with ethical and political life; their telos is practical wisdom and knowledge. (Carr & Kemmis 1986: p 32)As an instructor on the aforementioned course I have changed my learning styles as I have gained in experience. This is due to critical evaluation and reflecting on the theory I have instructed and how the students have assimilated that theory and subsequently turned it into practice. In this assignment I will critically evaluate how theory informs practice and vice versa, with my main focus being on the students of the Senior Command Course.The study for the certificate in education has awakened me to the vast diversity of theories relating to teaching and learning, specifically involving andragogy. As an instructor on the Senior Command Course my own teaching styles were developed by years of practical experience, with very little theoretical input. It was not until I was introduced to the civilian world of adult education and the theory behind it that I realised the strong connection between practice and theory.The dictionary defines theory as:A supposition or system of ideas explaining something ...based on general principles independent of the particular things to be explained. (Oxford Concise Dictionary, p.1266).And practical as:Of or concerned with practice or use rather than theory. (Oxford Concise Dictionary, p.935).In my opinion the two are unequivocally linked. As an instructor I wanted to move away from blindly teaching as I was taught or simply repeating how I taught the course the last time, I used the experience I was gaining, by critical reflection, to improve on the way I was instructing. I have developed the way I approach practical instruction by using the theories I have researched and feel I am a more rounded instructor as a result.Freire (1972) and others have...

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