Teaching: Concept and Assumptions

Teaching methodology is a very important component of teacher education or instructor training within the realm of teaching as a profession. Before we venture further to look into the essentials of teaching methodology, it is necessary to define some key concepts. These concepts are teaching, learning and finally teaching methodology. The understanding of these concepts will be crucial for our overall understanding and application of teaching methodology.

Knowledge is like a garden: If it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested.-
Guinean proverb.

Fig1: Teaching Concept


It is often assumed that when one knows the subject matter well, then such a person is capable of teaching the subject. For example, a highly skilled carpenter may feel that he can readily instruct others in the skills of his trade by simply showing how he does the work and explaining the ideas and purposes which are involved. This does not amount to teaching.

Many people also mistakenly think that anybody can teach. Perhaps one inordinate precedent which reinforces this thinking is the concept of “untrained teachers”. We rarely hear of untrained doctors, engineers, architects e.t.c. What makes teaching a profession, like others, is that it has its own principles, ethics and unique practices. Therefore, not every Tom, Dick and Harry can arrogate to themselves the functions of teaching without undertaking the requisite training in teaching.

Teaching is not simply the presentation of new skills and knowledge to the trainee. It is also not the mere transferring of what the teacher/instructor knows into the hands or minds of the trainee. Furthermore, teaching, is not the same as telling nor is telling synonymous with teaching. Effective teaching means that there are certain things which the teacher must do and other things which the trainees must also do to increase the chances of learning taking place. The teacher has to go through formal, theoretical and practical training. In addition, the teacher needs to plan his/her activities in order to ensure that trainees can acquire the desirable knowledge and skills. In teaching the process is just as important as the product. We do not focus on the product alone: Both the means and end are crucial.

Planning is crucial because it involves the selection and organisation of learning experiences which will lead to meaningful interaction between the teacher and trainees.

“Tell me and I will forget show me and I will remember do it with me and I will know”.

This means knowledge is a result of telling, showing and doing “actively” with learners (trainees) in a teaching process.


Teaching focuses on three fundamental elements and processes. These are cognitive, psychomotor and affective processes. All the three are interrelated and it is often difficult to arbitrarily teach only one without unconsciously or sub-consciously teaching the other.


The cognitive process is related to knowledge. It appeals mainly to our mind or intellect. It is reflected in the acquisition of new ideas or the re-organisation of an existing body of ideas. This knowledge affects our responses and reactions to situations. We can illustrate cognitive abilities in teaching situations involving:-

· Ability to identify facts which explain the existence or absence of particular matter.
· Ideas which can convince or persuade someone in an argument.

· Ability to determine the interconnection between two or more things.

· One’s ability to create alternative ways of doing something.

· One’s ability to organise ideas and thoughts when making a verbal or written presentation:-

a) Ideas, facts, figures, numbers and symbols.
b) Inter-relationship between such facts, ideas, figures, numbers, symbols e.t.c.

c) Organisation of such ideas, figures, facts, numbers, symbols e.t.c. in an orderly manner so as to reflect clear, understandable and logical meaning.


Refers to skills acquired through the teaching/learning situation. These skills relate to how we learn to co-ordinate and use our hands, heads, legs and other parts of our bodies. We can manipulate things using our psychomotor abilities such as:-

· Manual (Using hands) skills in Carpentry, Garment-making, Motor Vehicle Mechanics, Masonry e.t.c.
· Ability to play any or all ball games e.g. Soccer, Basketball, Netball, Rugby, Volleyball e.t.c.
· On becoming effective athletes and gymnastics.
· Undertaking any other trade, skill or craft.

All these processes will require both teachers and trainees to be practical, creative, precise and manipulative.


Affective means feelings and attitudes. Our feelings and attitudes reflect the values we are associated with. Some values are positive and progressive while others are negative and archaic. Affective teaching seeks to promote positive values and attitudes while at the same time gradually, but systematically chipping at those which are negative and disruptive. Attitudes and values are important in another sense. They greatly influence not only what we do, but also how we do what we do.


What would be the difference between teaching and training? Is training the same as teaching and vice versa? The answer to these questions particularly the second one, is YES and NO. Yes because training focuses mainly on the practical known as “knowledge how” as differentiated from “knowledge that”, the theoretical (or philosophical knowledge). But not all training is teaching because in training, the instructor can almost determine with certainty the exact skills and expected behaviour of a learner. That is why we know how a trainee who has acquired desirable skills should behave. But teaching in general travels beyond this. It has to do with making learners creative and critical thinkers with desirable values and attitudes in addition to having requisite skills (Which is an aspect of training). But as we said earlier on, it is difficult to teach skills alone, for example without communicating (consciously or unconsciously) certain attitudes and values.


According to Carl Shafer, “effective learning is fostered by masterful teaching.” This means teachers should develop an ability for making complex or difficult material simple enough for their learners. Successful teachers are those who display the following abilities.

  • Good mastery of the subject they teach.
  • Stimulate and sustain learners’ interest in what they teach.
  • Use language which learners understand easily.
  • Break down the content or lesson into simple manageable yet systematic blocks.
  • Help learners to learn on their own rather than depending wholly on the teacher.
  • Makes learners creative and critical in order to fully understand the idea, art or skill being taught.
  • Ability to review, test and confirm, if not apply what has been taught.

Put differently, Shafer has come up with specific guidelines which he refers to as the seven laws of teaching. These laws can be paraphrased as shown below.

A good teacher needs to:

1) Have a clear understanding of the content embodied in the lesson.

2) Makes learners develop interest in the subject matter through effective class management techniques.

3) Uses words and expressions which have common meaning to the learner and teacher alike.

4) Starts teaching the known and proceeds gradually to teach the unknown or more abstract material.

5) Makes learners to think, act and discover new knowledge on their own.

6) Encourages learners to reproduce in their own words what they have learned.

7) Evaluates what has been taught in order to determine its worth and correct any false impression.

See: The Seven Laws of Teaching by Carl Shafer.


Procedure:  Divide the participants into three or more groups depending on their size (in numbers)

Question: Let each group discuss the question: What kind of broad changes are reflected in individuals after undergoing any training?

Processing: Each group makes a presentation in the plenary. At the end of each presentation a few minutes of question and answer, a critique or comments should be allowed.

Facilitator: Helps the groups after presentations on newsprint to identify issues which can go together or have common intent. Once the clusters of issues emerge the facilitator helps the whole group to identify which ones relate to any of the following:

· Knowledge
· Attitudes
· Practices


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  1. Nehal jain

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  2. Sonali raghuvanshi

    Very helpful material in compare to patent book which does nt explain in deep…

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