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Defining Education

Just as each of the three key pieces of communication (telling, listening, responding) are necessary for effective interaction, effective education considers both teaching & learning. It also takes into account the communicative process, stages of development & practical opportunities to apply instruction. 

Education is a stage or process in instructive & practical training that leads to informed development. In other words, education is conversational turns about development with hands-on application opportunities.


Education is Communication

Among the many educational philosophies, there are diverse methods & multiple tools, but at its’ roots education is communication. Education is relational by nature because it involves conversational turns.

Whole Child Development considers a broad range of conversational topics relevant to the educational process and each child’s journey will have a unique application. As with the nature vs. nurture debate,  many factors impact education, including the environment, the teacher & the child.


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To teach is to guide & instruct, to cause to know something or know how. Teaching is the telling piece of the communicative process. Because communication is always impacted by relationship, teaching also considers questions, such as “How are my students listening & responding (learning)? What’s working & what needs to adjust?”

In this way, the teacher listens to the students & students’ learning informs the teacher. In these moments, the students (consciously or unconsciously) become the teacher (the teller) & the teacher becomes the learner.

Communication, Phone, Call, Message


To learn is to come to know or be able to do. Learning is the listening & responding piece of the communicative process. Because teaching usually happens in the context of diverse development stages (adult-child), the learners may or may not have the maturity to evaluate their learning & the capacity to dialog about it. Part of the teacher’s role is modeling for the learner how to learn & how to communicate about their learning.

For a two-year-old, dialoguing about learning might look something like this:

Teacher draws a circle, points to it & says “Tell me what you see.”

Potential responses might be: student answers “circle,” answers with another word, says nothing. Whatever the response is, the feedback gives the teacher an idea of where the student is at, but also must be combined with other factors. For example, did the student answer “cat” just to be silly, did the student not answer today because she is tired, did the student draw a circle on her own the day before.

A follow-up question might be: “Would you like a turn to draw?”

In the scenario above, the teacher has a bit of background & a goal (assessing knowledge of a circle). The student may or may not be aware of the goal, but ideally is actively engaged in the process.

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Measuring Teaching & Learning

How to measure teaching & learning is a debate happening in the education world. Traditionally, “tests,” the dreaded word now has competition: some may shudder to hear the word “assessments.” Questions being asked include how often to test, when & in what manner.

If education is communication that leads to growth & change, what is the role of assessments? How does the way we currently assess impact teaching & learning?


Michelangelo, Abstract, Boy, Child

There are 3 basic categories of assessments:


1. Pre-assessment

These assessments occur prior to a teaching unit begins to give the teacher an idea of what is presently known & unknown.

Example: A group discussion with opportunity to ask questions.


2. Formative

These assessments occur during the teaching unit. Dialog between the teacher & student allows both to be on the same page about where learning is occurring & where adjustments need to be made.

Examples: A quick conference with a student to see if they are able to write their name or recite their times tables; a pop quiz.


Omr, Sheet, Fill, Paper, Hand, Young

3. Summative

These assessments occur at the end of a teaching unit.

Examples: A group presentation. An essay pulling together everything learning in the quarter. A multiple choice test or final exam.


Assessing Teachers

In addition to student assessment, there is controversy about how to assess teachers. For example, if students perform poorly on a test, how much is the teacher liable? It is a complex question partially because of the diversity within teaching & learning.



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