Unsuccessful pedagogical situations

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On the basis of the previous theoretical and practical research conducted by the author, in this paper the concept of “pedagogical situation” is studied. The suggested classification of pedagogical situations is based on the ability of a pedagogical situation to solve pedagogical tasks, reach pedagogical problems, achieve a pedagogical effect and thus to become a pedagogical event. On these basis as well as on the logic and practice of a teacher's everyday work, the three types of situations were previously identified. One type of these situations is described in this paper. The goal of such situations is unachievable, which means that the situation can not change from a potential situation to an actual situation. The goal-oriented principle of analysis opens up the prospect of establishing relationships between all the parameters of the situation and the personal characteristics of its participants. The scheme for describing pedagogical situations logically includes the following components: participants (teachers and students a potential pedagogical agent), goal/task, conditions (locus).

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The concept of "situation" nowadays has a general methodological meaning, as well as it is one of the main categories in the human and social sciences. Situations fill human life, open the field for activities, interactions, experiences, and give meaning to human existence [1].

Based on our interdisciplinary research, we have been able to propose an integrated concept of "situations" [2; 3] as a potential dimension of an event, and consider it as a structural element of an event. An event can take place, can happen only in a place and time - this space-time continuum is the situation, because only in it something can happen. In the context of the educational process, a pedagogical situation occurs as a significant change for the person of pedagogical influence (a pupil/student) that takes place in the educational and pedagogical process and has an educational and/or pedagogical purpose. This paper looks at pedagogical situations that have failed to take place in a pedagogical sense.

Literature review

In pedagogical science, the pedagogical situation is understood as a unit of the teaching and educational process. This elementary unit of pedagogical process satisfies the following conditions: it is a bearer of all essential features of a holistic pedagogical process; it is common in implementing any pedagogical goals; it is distinguished by abstraction in any real pedagogical process [4].

Being an integral part of the pedagogical process, the pedagogical situation determines the dynamics of the learning process, its ability to self-movement and self-development. Thus the pedagogical process itself is a continuous chain of pedagogical situations that are interconnected and mutually continuous.

Educators study the functional significance and relevance of pedagogical situation in the educational process [5], examine the analysis, design, and organization of pedagogical situation [6;7], consider pedagogical situation as a condition of pedagogical process [8]. However, despite the widespread use of the term, the importance of the concept and the widespread usage of this category, the definitions of “pedagogical situation” used in pedagogy vary having no clear basis.

The concept of "pedagogical situation", in our opinion, can be defined through an indication of the subject activity of the analysed situation: thus, a situation becomes pedagogical only if it aims at teaching, education and development of a learner. "A pedagogical situation is understood as a potential opportunity for a pedagogical event to take place in a pedagogical relation" [2].

There are many attempts in Russian and foreign pedagogy to systematise and classify pedagogical situations based on different typological features and grounds. As an example, V.S. Bezrukova's classification of pedagogical situations is based on such features as the place of origin and the course of the situation, degree of projectivity, degree of originality, controllability, participants, embedded contradictions, content, character [9]. V.A. Slastenin singles out the place of emergence and occurrence, interacting subjects and objects, the essence of the pedagogical process, etc. as typological attributes [10]. N.V. Bordovskaya divides pedagogical situations into situations of motivation and stimulation of educational and cognitive activity, self-assessment, problem solving educational tasks, conflict situations, situations of communication, success, influence, situations of responsible decisions, etc. [11]. N. Kulutkina and G.S. Sukhobskaya distinguish a large number of different types of situations based on standard and non-standard pedagogical situations [12]. The classification of pedagogical situations is studied by I. N. Yemelyanova [13], B.S. Gershunsky [14], M.M. Rybakova [15], etc.

Classifications are known to be a process of grouping research objects according to their common typological features. They are needed to facilitate the operation and use of large classes of objects and to simplify their memorization and projection. In our opinion, the above-mentioned classifications of pedagogical situations do not simplify these processes of creating, using and analysing pedagogical situations, but they are based on different grounds, which makes the understanding and use of the concept "pedagogical situations" a bit confusing.

Materials and methods

The selection of research methods is justified by the peculiarities and difficulties of describing pedagogical terminology with the use of pedagogical semiology. This approach suggests the following methods to be used in the research: the content analysis, the systematic and structural analysis, the method of general scientific and pedagogical literature logical analysis, the method of dictionary definitions analysis, the method of interpretation and contextual analysis, the method of synthesis, systematization, generalization and comparison.

Research results

In the current study, a classification of pedagogical situations was made. The logical basis for the classification was the possibility and ability of the pedagogical situation to reach a pedagogical problem, i.e. the possibility of achieving a pedagogical effect. If the pedagogical process has a goal and objectives, then there are situations in which the teacher wants to achieve these goals or objectives to solve. It is then possible to identify situations in which this goal is achievable, or in which it is not possible by definition. And there are situations which require a transformation of situations or goals.

Based on these grounds as well as on the logic and practice of the educator's daily work, we have identified 3 types of situations [16]:

1) A pedagogical situation in which the goal is achievable.

2) A pedagogical situation in which the pedagogical goal is not achievable, i.e. the pedagogical effect does not occur and the pedagogical problem is not solved.

3) Pedagogical situations that require transformation.

This paper presents situations of the second type and their real implementation in pedagogical practice. The situations presented in the paper are taken from the practice of various teachers, as well as from the author's pedagogical practice.

The goal principle of analysis used in the study, allows us to establish the relationship between the parameters of the situation and the personal characteristics of the participants. These parameters are participants, tasks and space-time, based on the boundaries of the pedagogical situation that we have identified. Therefore, the scheme for describing pedagogical situations should logically include the following components: participants (teachers and students as bearers of pedagogical potential), goal/task, conditions (locus).

Situation 1.

Teacher: Young teacher (“The teacher came to the school to work after graduating from teacher training college. The children fell in love with her. The young teacher had a fertile imagination and could make up stories about faraway places. The teacher was an unquestionable authority on the children” [17, p.208])

Participants: pupils of the third year, collective farmers, Valya (9 years old)

Objective: to teach the children how to work

Conditions: a collective farmyard

"One day, at the beginning of the third year, the teacher took the children to a collective farmyard. She said, "We are going to pick corn cobs," and showed them how to do it. The pupils set to work, but the teacher warned: "Sit on your own, I'll go and see what potatoes have been left for me...". A dozen paces away, elderly women, female collective farmers, were sitting. The teacher had given them sacks of potatoes the day before and asked them to pick better ones. A moment later the children heard her angry speech: "What did I pay you money for?" The children were surprised: they did not recognise their teacher. With them she spoke softly, as if dovish with every word, and here some hoarse, brusque voice ... But it completely shocked them when they heard from her lips a dirty swearing. The children sat with their heads down, afraid to look up. The teacher had returned. She was saying something to them - again in a soft, dovish voice, but the pupils did not understand her words. The dirty words with which the teacher had just insulted the women still rang in their ears..." [17 p. 208-209].

Explanation. The example shows how the teacher, whom the children admired, trusted, wanted to emulate, did a wrong and rude act before their eyes. And there was an upheaval in the children's hearts: the ideal image created in the children's hearts was trampled on by the one they thought was their ideal.

 Result: although at first glance the task of the pedagogical situation is to teach the children to work, to help the collective farmers, in reality we can see how the situation turned out very differently. Formally, the children fulfilled the task, they helped out in the collective farmyard, but what happened beyond the formalities?! What happened was that the teacher turned the situation into an "anti-event" by her behaviour. Not only did the children not feel the joy of work, of being needed, but they also lost confidence in the teacher: "In the evening, when dusk settled over the room, nine-year-old Valya sat at the window frowning, thoughtful. She cried for no reason. No matter how hard her mother tried to find out why she was crying, she did not hear a word. And Valya was experiencing the very thing I was talking about. She was friends with her teacher, she often went to her house and told her her little secrets. And now the child's heart is troubled, full of doubts: why does the teacher speak so kindly and gently to the children, while she scolds the adults? Is it possible that she only pretends to be kind and gentle, but in reality - malicious, unkind? There is nothing more painful than the anguish of a child's heart. A wound in it may not heal for many years, or even remain for life. Valya cried for a long time, sleeping restlessly at night. The girl no longer believed the teacher. Children's complicated feelings turned into a kind of protest: the girl became rude, disobedient. It seemed that she was deliberately doing everything contrary to the teacher - to anger her, cause annoyance. Perhaps you, dear reader, have seen a child who does everything in defiance of adults" [17, p. 208-209]. The pupils regarded the teacher as an ideal, believing every word she said, unconditionally fulfilling her demands, learning how to live from her. The teacher's action destroyed the children's faith in her, and tragedy ensued in the children's souls, doubts and disbelief were born.

Situation 2.

Teacher: Father (professor of pedagogy, "He always approached his only son with books in hand and deep psychological analyses. Like many educators he believed that in nature there must be this pedagogical trick after which everyone should be in full and blissful satisfaction" [18, p. 19])

Participants: son Fedya

Objective: develop respect for his mother, refrain from being rude, develop morals

Conditions: at home, situation of one month

“The son was rude to his mother at lunch. The professor thought for a while and said enthusiastically:

- Fedya, you have insulted your mother, if you do not value our family hearth, you are not worthy to stay at our table. Please: from tomorrow I'll give you five roubles a day - dine wherever you like.

The professor was pleased. In his opinion, he reacted brilliantly to his son's rudeness. Fedya, too, was pleased.(...) The professor expected that in three or four days Fedya would rush to his neck and say:

- Father! I was wrong, don't deprive me of my family home!

But that's not how it happened, or rather, not at all. Fedya really enjoyed his visits to restaurants and cafés. He was only embarrassed by the insignificance of the amount allocated. He made some adjustments: he searched the family home and took the initiative. In the morning, the professor's trousers were missing from the wardrobe, and in the evening his son came home drunk.(...) The professor took off his belt and waved it in front of his son's face for several minutes.

A month later the professor raised a white flag and asked to take his son to a labour colony” [18, p. 19].

 Explanation: As seen in the example, Fedya's father, a professor of education, hears his mother insulted by his son and makes a quick decision to deny his son access to the family home, while giving him money for food. The professor expects that after a few days, the son will realise on his own and ask for forgiveness. However, this not only fails to happen, but the situation becomes even worse. No method works, and the father takes the ultimate measure and decides to send his son to a labour camp.

 Result: The task of the pedagogical situation, which started in the family, was at first to foster respect for the mother and to overcome the brutal behaviour. However, the situation was developing into a conflict situation, it became more serious, new circumstances intensified and none of the tried methods of solving it worked. The goal of the situation is not met and the expected event becomes an "anti-event".

Situation 3

Teacher: Professor Valencia Robles (thermodynamics teacher)

Participants: Engineering students

Objective: to develop their motivation for taking the thermodynamic course

Conditions: the University, one semester

 “My colleague who usually teaches Thermodynamics was on leave for the semester, and I was assigned to take his place. I knew it would not be easy to teach this course: it has a reputation for being really hard, and engineering students only take it because it is required for the major. On top of that, my colleague had warned me that many students stop coming to lectures early on in the semester, and those who come to class often do not come prepared. It seemed clear that I needed a way to motivate students to work hard and keep up with the material. I recalled that when I was a student, any suggestion by the professor that I might not be up to the challenge really got me fi red up and eager to prove him wrong. So I told my students on the fi rst day of class, “ This is a very diffi cult course. You will need to work harder than you have ever worked in a course and still a third of you will not pass. ” I expected that if my students heard that, they would dig in and work harder to measure up. But to my surprise, they slacked off even more than in previous semesters: they often did not come to class, they made lackluster efforts at the homework, and their test performance was the worst it had been for many semesters. And this was after I gave them fair warning! This class had the worst attitude I have ever seen and the students seemed to be consumed by an overall sense of lethargy and apathy. I am beginning to think that today ’ s students are just plain lazy” [19, p. 47].

Explanation: We can see from this example that the students did not meet the teacher's expectations and were not able to acquire and demonstrate a good level of understanding of the teaching material. We can see that the teacher tries to assess the situation in advance and thinks of ways to involve the students in the work, to increase their motivation. He remembers what motivated him when he was a student and tries to apply his past experience to this situation. However, this does not lead to the desired results, and the teacher concludes that the students are simply lazy and apathetic.

Result: The pedagogical situation has been thought out in advance by the teacher, but she has made the mistake of assuming that the students will have the same motivation as she had being a student. The teacher thus hoped to recreate a highly competitive environment in the group. But her worries and warnings about the material difficulty and the poor chances of students’ passing the exam add into already established negative attitudes towards the course, lower students' expectations of success and decrease their motivation for the course progress. Thus, it is possible to view this pedagogical situation as a failure.

Discussion and conclusions

The given examples of pedagogical situations are highlighted taking into attention the possibility and ability of pedagogical situation to reach a pedagogical problem, i.e. the possibility of achieving a pedagogical effect. From the description made on the basis of 100 examples (though we list here only three of them), we can see that the presented situations have not achieved their pedagogical effect, which means that the teacher has not correctly formulated the goal, defined the task, thought about the situation, selected the wrong methods to solve the problem. The presented pedagogical situations did not turn from potential to actual, did not reach their pedagogical effect, did not turn into pedagogical events.


About the authors

Victoria V. Dobrova

Samara State Technical University

Author for correspondence.
Email: victoria_dob@mail.ru

Cand. Psych., Associate Professor, Head of Foreign Languages Department

Russian Federation, 244, Molodogvardeyskaya st., Samara, 443100


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