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Case Study for Teaching Philosophies

Melanie McBride
Fall 2016, ED 200

I will be studying a professor from BYU-I in observation, questions and


interview to examine his teaching philosophies through two different subject
matters. Dr. Jared Hancock is a chemistry professor. I have taken one course
from him this semester, Chemistry 106. Dr. Hancock has his Ph.D in Inorganic
Chemistry, his doctorate thesis was Formation and Analysis of Zinc Oxide
Nanoparticles and Zinc Oxide Hexagonal Prisms; Optical Analysis of
Cadmium Selenide Nanoparticles. Dr. Hancock also teaches Ballroom dance
as a technique coach at Extreme Ballroom Company and Idaho Ballroom
Academy. Dr. Hancock was also a finalist for United States National Open
Amateur Smooth Finalist, and toured many places in the world as a traveling
dance team member of BYU Dance Team. Because Dr. Hancock teaches two
different subject matters, I feel he will be the best candidate for comparing
teaching methods and understanding if the teaching methods and
philosophies are consistent with both left brain and right brain subjects of
chemistry and dance.

I have summarized the philosophies below for reference and explanation.


This information came from the Philosophy slides from BYU-I ilearn from ED
200, taught by Bro. Chris Wilson. I have summarized, but the extrapolation
credit is due to Bro. Wilson and the education department.
Idealism
Ideas are the most important thing. Whats real in the mind is
the only thing that is real.
Reality is spiritual. Values are absolute and eternal. Nothing is real except
for the idea in someones mind. Intuition is a dimension of knowing.
Education is transformation. Ideas can change lives, the more we know the
better we are. All problems have roots in past.
Applied as a Teacher:
Teacher will lecture sometimes
Often teach using questioning, discussion, analyze, synthesize
Classics; Reading, writing and arithmetic

Realism
Reality is tangible, using science. Knowledge is through senses
only.
The universe exists whether the mind perceives it or not. Things are superior
to ideas. Reality exists regardless of our mind. The scientific method is used
and value is estimated through knowledge. Happiness is achieved by
cultivating potential for excellence. Reality is composed of matter.
Knowledge is obtained through the senses. Matter exists, independent of
ideas.
Applied as a Teacher:
Scientific Method
Lecture, Question and Answer
Science, Math, Reading, Writing and Humanities
Standards Achievement
Behavioral Objectives

Neo Thomism
God is good and truth. Learning is by faith and study.
God is viewed as the pure being. Humans are modeled after God. Truths of
revelations are accepted on faith, truths of science are arrived by rational
observation. Goodness follows reason. Intellect is the perceiver of beauty. A
good life is found in the presence of God.
Applied as a Teacher:
Religious and character education
Many private or religious schools
Learning by study also by faith
God is a worthy source of knowledge
(Perrennialism)

Pragmatism
The environment and specifics of a situation determine method
and rules.
Human experience is to solve problems, not transcend to different spheres of
life. Our earthly quest is to control and direct change as far as possible.
Truth is a tentative assertion derived from experience. Intelligence is socially
built though peoples experiences, personal experiences and the ability to
define and solve problems. There is moral relativity. Reality is based on
ones own experience. Truth is in ones own mind. Knowing is a result of my
experience. Methods are depending on the situation.
Applied as a Teacher:
Start with the needs and interests of the child in the classroom, allow the
child to participate in planning his or her course of study.
Cheerleader more than authoritarian figure
Encourages, plans, questions and offers suggestions
Individual and groups
Goal of education: Growth
Students given freedom of movement and freedom of work methods.
(Progressivism)

Existentialism
Each person chooses their course and creates meaning of their
own existence.
Reality is through personal choice. One is responsible for their own
knowledge and value of that knowledge. Personal freedom is ones own
responsibility. Wide-awakeness is a way of life. The individual must make
sense of the chaos of life. Language is important. Education liberates
individual from chaotic life.
Applied as a Teacher:
Teacher -student relationship is personal
Problems and possibilities
Uses Humanities, literature, art, drama and music

Observations from Chemistry 106:


I had Dr. Hancock five times per week, for the Fall 2016 semester and I also
observed the other sections Dr. Hancock teaches at BYU-I.
In each Chemistry class, Dr. Hancock starts class with a variety of music.
This seems to be a great way for students to relax and be comfortable. At
the beginning of the semester, Dr. Hancock encouraged us to form study
groups with people of varying abilities in chemistry. He encouraged us to
have smart people, average people, even dumb people as teaching is a great
way to remember and understand the material. Every class begins with a
prayer. Towards the end of the semester, Dr. Hancock began beginning each
class period with a short review of the previous lecture material. Dr. Hancock
uses power points as an outline. Sometimes included in the slides are
diagrams, practice problems, graphs, charts. Included throughout the
course are some experiments done in class. Dr. Hancock also uses other
media to relay information such as videos.
This shows Existentialism, with using music every day in class. And the
occasional videos.
This shows Idealism, in his questioning, analyzing, and then applying
those principles.
This shows Neo-Thomism, with beginning with prayer, at a private,
religious university.
This shows Pragmatism, with the teacher encouraging study groups
and working together to solve problems with each individuals experience.
Dr. Hancock uses humor, knowledge and experience as his basis for
teaching.
This shows Pragmatism and Existentialism.
Dr. Hancock is very open about students coming to his office and asking
questions, and he is happy to schedule appointments outside of normal
office hours. Making himself available shows his willingness to help and that
he cares about students learning. Dr. Hancock seems to have personal
relationships with current and past students. Often discussing and asking
questions about their lives outside of his chemistry class.
This shows Existentialism as Dr. Hancock is interested in a
student/teacher relationship.

This shows Pragmatism as Dr. Hancock is encouraging and cheering on


his students.
This shows Realism, as he expects students to use their direct senses
to obtain knowledge through a logical approach.
Dr. Hancock uses at least one class period before exams for review, which
are student led. Students are expected to bring their own questions. If there
are no questions asked, he ends class and everyone leaves.
This shows Realism, Dr. Hancock is trying to help students be
responsible for their own learning.

Dr. Hancock asks often throughout his class if there are any questions about
what was just taught before moving on to the next topic. Dr. Hancock does
not show annoyance about answering questions in class. Dr. Hancock uses
familiar analogies for comparison to deepen understanding.
This shows Pragmatism, as he encourages questions.
Observations from Ballroom Dance Teaching
10 year-old age technique, junior high age technique and testing, high school
age technique:
Very friendly and patient, very detailed. Dr. Hancock asked students about
other parts of their lives outside of class. Dr .Hancock did demonstrations for
the students and also technique with the students. Dr. Hancock asked
questions to engage the students to think on their own. Dr. Hancock also
presented the students with time to think of why to not do things wrong, and
how wrong looks.
Dr. Hancock uses humor and laughter throughout, even when the students
are being corrected. Dr. Hancock uses analogies for students to compare
technique to. In dance, it was to not have hands floppy like dead fish. Dr.
Hancock compliments his students when they get things right. Dr. Hancock
checks in to see if the students are understanding what he is teaching, and if
they have any questions. Dr. Hancock lets the dance students pick their
music sometimes. At the end of the dance lesson, Dr. Hancock reviewed the
specific techniques that they worked on, and what to practice before next
class. Dr. Hancock wastes no time getting class started. During the testing of
the dance students, Dr. Hancock judged them doing a dance routine. His
grading included critiques, but also some compliments and praise for things
done well or developing well.

This shows Existentialism, as Dr. Hancock changes things to the needs


of the students, and in praising them, cheers them on.
This shows Existentialism, as Dr. Hancock is interested in a
student/teacher relationship.
This shows Pragmatism, as Dr. Hancock is encouraging and cheering
on his students.
This shows Realism, as he expects students to use their direct senses
to obtain knowledge through a logical approach.
This shows Realism, as Dr. Hancock is trying to help students be
responsible for their own learning.

Conclusions:
Allowing students the opportunity to practice with his guidance in both dance
and in chemistry equations allows the students the ability to develop
confidence in doing it correctly on their own. Infusing his teaching with
humor and music allows students to feel relaxed and comfortable and often
happy. Dr. Hancocks encouraging nature in both dance and chemistry
provided his students optimism and hope for learning and advancing. Dr.
Hancocks teaching style and methods in both ballroom and chemistry are
very similar.
While Dr. Hancock showed pieces of all the different philosophy methodology
in his teaching, I feel most of his methods fall into Existentialism. It seems
connecting with his students is very important to him and he spends the
most amount of time on this factor. And while I dont believe Dr. Hancock is
100% Existentialism, he uses most of those methods and philosophies to teach. I
think Dr. Hancock shows some Realism also in expecting students to put the effort
and work into their learning. I observed Pragmatism while Dr. Hancock adjusts his
schedule somewhat to what is needed at the time. I saw this more in ballroom than
chemistry, as ballroom is more fluid and chemistry is more structured, so it makes
sense. One thing I learned strongly, Dr. Hancock loves teaching.
I decided to discuss my findings with Dr. Hancock. To see if what I observed is what
he believes himself to be. I also had Dr. Hancock take the quiz that our

classmate created to find your own philosophy style. Dr. Hancock answered
the questions to reveal himself as a realist. When I explained the specifics of
what this means, he agreed with all the statements as what he thinks of as
himself as a teacher. I had determined Dr. Hancock to be an Existentialist.
When I read Dr. Hancock these specifics for this philosophy type, he said he
agreed with about 80% related to himself.

I have some thoughts on why I pegged Dr. Hancock as an Existentialist


instead of a Realist. While I discovered Dr. Hancock to have both philosophy
attributes, my favorite parts of Dr. Hancocks teacher style are some
specifics of an Existentialist. I see so much of his efforts as far as connecting
with students and encouraging them. Yet Dr. Hancocks true core as a
teacher is more realism. Its interesting to see the blend that Dr. Hancock has
as a teacher.
I think each of us as a teacher has parts and pieces of different philosophies.
Which is ideal. To be the most effective teacher we should take the best
parts of several different philosophies to reach the most different types of
students and learning styles.