The extent to which psychology has produced into the field of teaching and learning education is so impressive that only the term revolution can be applied to it with any accuracy.
In pointing to the changes in education caused by psychology Ryan has written, “In many schools of today one finds an atmosphere of friendliness and happy activity. Much of the traditional formality, the forced silence, the tension, the marching is gone. Children’s voices are heard in the halls and class-rooms.
The younger children come gaily down the stairways, naturally and relatively unstrained, the older boys and girls through the corridor or outside walk making their way to school rooms, shops, studios, libraries, laboratories and playing fields to tasks that mean something to them, that make demands upon their energies and their imagination, that often involve hard, difficult work, but work that they recognize as creative.
Beauty of surroundings is considered a first, requirement in these schools-there are flowers about, brightly colored murals painted by the children, attractive informal work rooms for the various groups. Art and music has begun to play the role that being to them as fundamental in education and life.”
1. Child-Centred Education
In early times the teachers were mainly engaged in imparting various kinds of information to the children. In those times children were less the centre to attention, the school claimed more of their time. Today, it is the child who is the centre of attention in education.
Every child is individually considered and treated. Efforts are always made to adapt the curriculum of study to the needs of the child with the result that the brilliant and dull witted children do not study the same subjects.
Applied psychology has directed attention to the differing abilities and capacities of people. Such an attitude has made it possible for the teacher to gauge the special abilities of his wards and to make the best arrangements for the guidance of individual children.
The teacher of today not only must be acquainted with teaching but also with his students since his profession is now centred about the child and not about the subject or teacher.
The consequence of this kind of reasoning is that what matters isn’t the beauty, knowledge or ability of the teacher but the extent to which he succeeds in developing the personality of his students.
2. Process of Education
Previously, education was believed to be a comprehensive process that trained the individual, provided him with a moral character and made him more cultured. In psychology as it is understood today, the conception of mind has completely changed.
Analysis has led to the discovery that many kinds of forces and mental activities take place within the human being so that for the development of the child it is necessary to provide him with different kinds of programmes and subjects so that he may succeed in properly developing all his mental faculties and abilities.
At present, variety is believed to be essential not only in education itself but it is equally held to be true that the education of one individual subject includes many different activities and functions. The teacher should be aware of all these functions. It is only than that he can understand the difficulties of the children in understanding the subject.
If a child fails to memorize some one lesson, it can hardly be taken to indicate only a lack of effort on his part and no other cause. It is equally probable that he has a weak memory, or is not intelligent, or has no interest in the subject or that he is suffering from ill health.
Learning is a complex activity and it is only through a complete knowledge of its various parts that one can diagnose the difficulty of a particular child in memorizing or learning a lesson. The teacher has no alternative but to attend to the activity of learning.
3. Reform in Curriculum
Psychology has also managed to bring about important variations and reforms in educational curricula. Now it is the mental age and not the chronological age of the child that helps to determine the course of study to which he is to be subjected. Intelligence tests reveal the mental age of the child. Different courses are devised for brilliant and deficient children.
After the eighth or delta class, the curriculum is sub-divided into various parts such as literary, scientific, agricultural or art class. The child then has the opportunity of selecting his subject according to his interest and aptitude.
Various extra-curricular activities are organized for the emotional and sentimental development of the child. These include picnics, dramatic societies, etc. Other programmes are organized in order to develop the qualities of leadership, public speaking, etc., in the child. But no course of study or programme is foisted upon the child against his inclination.
Inspiration is awakened in him according to his interests and his tastes. Education has now been made more interesting and appealing with the use of audio-visual aids such as television, film projection, etc. Many schools are also equipped with radio sets that provide both entertainment and information to the child.
The use of analogies to penetrate the defenses of the child is an important method in education. Children who choose to study history are also taken to visit historical places.
And even a glance at the curriculum of basic education makes clear the extent to which psychology has revolutionized’ education. And special curricula are also devised to meet the needs of adult education. They suit the psychology of adult individuals.
Discipline has an important place in education. One of the aims of education is to instill respect for discipline in the child. But the recent discoveries of psychology have changed the ways and means in which discipline is taught.
Previously physical punishment was one of the chief methods of teaching and imparting discipline in the children. The main motive behind the discipline was fear of physical violence and injury. But instead of injuring the body of the child it injured his personality by making it distorted.
Psychologists attracted the attention of enlightened people to the injurious effects of physical punishment and also suggested alternative means of making children disciplined.
One suggestive example is here described. The inmates of a hostel were given to indiscipline during lunch time. They threw morsels of food at each other and wasted much more. The warden made every effort to stop this nuisance .used every means of arousing fear in the children but without success.
He never discovered the name of the mischief makers and neither did the boys give up their behaviour. Sometime later he was replaced by a new warden who resorted to psychological methods for solving this menace.
He made an announcement to the effect that die best behaved table with the most seemly boys would win a flag that would entitle them to twice the normal ration of the most succulent food. The strategy took immediate effect and the indiscipline promptly ceased.
The children seated at various tables were now busily engaged in trying to look more disciplined and seemly than all the others so that they now even prevented the more hardened and incorrigible boys among them from mischief.
In this way, the warden took advantage of the psychology of children to effortlessly perform a task that had completely foiled all the efforts of the earlier warden with his shock and fear tactics.
Nowadays it has become customary in schools to allow the children to adopt discipline rather than foist it upon them. At the college level it is from among the students that the prefects are chosen to create and maintain discipline among their fellow mates and to help the proctor in maintaining order within the college.
Very recently there was a high level debate on the spreading indiscipline among university students in India and almost all speakers put forward psychological solutions because the problem of indiscipline is fundamentally and basically a psychological one.
It need hardly be pointed out that the more a teacher knows of child psychology, the easier will it be for him to create discipline in the motley group with which he is faced in the class.
5. Education on Personality
The modem methods of education place great emphasis upon the education of personality. Education is now understood to mean something more than mere reading or writing, it is also understood to involve the development of personality.
Many schools have resident psychologists who solve problems related to personality of the students and give advice to teachers and parents in this regard. At places there are also child guidance clinics that make special efforts toward the correction and normal rehabilitation of problem children or juvenile delinquents.
A study of psychology is an essential part of the curriculum of teacher’s training. In addition to these individual efforts most states and districts have a bureau of psychology whose functions are to solve all problems of students relating to their personality, to give personal guidance and to give advice to their parents and teachers regarding them.
The truth of the matter” is that the psychologist has become a link for the child’s adjustment between the home and the school since such an adjustment helps to improve his personality. In the role of specialist his contribution to the school has become indispensable.
6. Teaching Method
In the manner already described psychology has changed teaching methods lock stock and barrel. All new research aims at evolving teaching methods that induce the child to learn for himself and thus himself achieve his development.
The means of a changed teaching method are radio, cinema, cultural programmes, debates and other competitions, picnics, visits to historical places, games, election contests, students’ unions, etc. It is psychology that has contributed the Kinder garden and Montessori methods of teaching.
Special learning and teaching methods have been evolved for the use of blind, dumb and deaf children and mentally backward or handicapped children.
7. Individual Differences
In days gone by, the same curriculum was prescribed for all students in the class. The development of applied psychology led to the fact that different individuals differ from each other in respect of their interests, intelligence, ability, capabilities, etc.
This knowledge of individual differences proved a variable source of revolution for education. Now-a-days the essential pre-requisite to guidance of an educational nature is knowledge of the subject’s ability and interests. Choice of his curriculum and other extra-curricular activities are definitely governed by these individual differences.
8. Process of Learning
The experiments that psychology has carried on in connection with the process of learning have led to the discovery of many laws that economies of time and yet produce good results in terms of material learned. One example would be Thorndike’s laws. It is the psychologist who has stressed the importance of reward and punishment in learning.
Research in psychology has aimed at discovering the efficacy and inefficacy of the various methods of learning. The employment of the various methods of learning is improved and made more scientific by knowledge of their qualities and drawbacks.
9. Mental Testing and Guidance
Mental testing and guidance are important factors in applied psychology. Psychologists have evolved scientific tests to measure intelligence and other abilities. Students can be guided in educational and vocational matters with the help of these tests.
Now, education aims both at the complete development of the individual as well as his best possible adjustment to his vocation and of his vocation to his natural abilities Teachers need the help of psychologists in either of these two matters.
Psychologists solve the problems of students through personal guidance and inform them of the job they are best suited to through vocational guidance. In this way, the co-operation and co-ordination between the teacher and the psychologist in the field of education is on the increase.
10. Reform of Problem Children
One of the most notable contributions of psychology to education is the improvement and reform of juvenile delinquents, absconding children, morons, backward children, unsocial and problem children, and advice to their parents regarding them. To this end the state and district psychological bureau assist the educational institutions.
11. Extra-Curricular Activities
The aim of education is the complete development of the child so that mere book knowledge is insufficient to gain this end In this connection many other programmes are included in the curriculum on the suggestion of psychologists apart from the normal theoretical knowledge.
In this manner, educational psychology provides the teacher with the means to attaining knowledge of the student’s nature, capacity, characteristics, needs and motive. This knowledge is the equipment for him to modify his teaching methods sufficiently to attain die goal for education.