Pedagogy: What is it and why is it important?

Rich Harding

Why on the earth am I writing a blog about pedagogy for parents and church kid’s zone coordinators and teachers? It all sounds a bit extreme for the limited time we have kids each weekend or for the upbringing of our kids day to day in the house, where often no ‘formal’ education occurs. Well there is a point, read on and find out.

 

First we have to look at what pedagogy is. Don’t worry I had no idea either when I first came across the word. Made me feel a bit stupid but I later realised it’s really quite simple.

 

Here’s a given meaning by a university professor in Milan, Italy called Mantovani and then my simple explanation.

 

“Pedagogy can be seen as the general framework within which we think about education, growing out of both its particular cultural context and of cross-fertilization with outside forces, paradigms, and practices (Mantovani, 2007).”

 

In other words, pedagogy is essential for forming our concept of what education is and what it is not. If we don’t define this, we are simply led to adopt common cultural and governmental pre-conceptions about education.

 

So what has that got to do with me? The Bible tells us that it is the responsibility of the parents and the wider community of God’s people (now the Church) to ‘educate’ or teach their children the Word of God (ref). Often throughout the Old Testament the priests were assigned the task of training and educating the people in accordance with God’s Law (See Ezra, add more references).

 

In the New Testament, in Matthew 28:17-18 we find Jesus giving his disciples the huge task of making disciples and “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” What a huge task that we have inherited. Everything we do as a church, to make disciples, to baptise and then to teach everything Jesus has taught us through His apostles and His Word.

 

We have been given the greatest, most important teaching or educational task on the planet, far more important than mathematics, science or languages. These are the lessons of life that we must transmit for all to ‘obey.’ This includes our children, in fact I think it’s the most important demographic group for this task.

 

That being so, what is education and how should we educate – that’s basically what pedagogy means. It is only really applied to general education, but I think it applies even more so to us as trainers and educators of Children, whether thats as parents or as kids church teachers. One of my favourite sources of insight on pedagogy is found in the Reggio Emilia experiment school system in Reggio Emilia, Italy. The Local government and school system works alongside parents to form the educational system and pedagogy for the education of their children.

 

Here is an extract from the book, The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia experience in transformation, which talks of 7 key aspects to pedagogy and child education. I’ll let you read it and draw your conclusions:

 

“Mantovani (2007) also summarizes the intellectual trends that dominate contemporary conversations among Italian early childhood experts. Key phrases recur over and over in their discussions about pedagogy. Every one of these key Italian themes intersects with the concepts of education explicated by Reggio educators throughout this book:

 

  • “Pedagogy of well-being” (pedagogia del benessere)—a pedagogy of physical and emotional well-being or being deeply at ease in the education and care setting

 

  • “Pedagogy of good taste” (pedagogia del gusto)—a pedagogy in which the quality and aesthetics of materials, furnishings, and images (their “taste” or “flavor”) help the child appreciate, love, and respect the environment

 

  • “Pedagogy of relations” (pedagogia delle relazione)—a pedagogy in which interpersonal and social relationships are seen as a means of enhancing autonomy, belonging, and individual and group learning

 

  • “Pedagogy of continuity” (pedagogia della continuità)—the very high degree of continuity; involving continuity of child and teacher groupings over multiple years and a connected curriculum (progettazione in Reggio Emilia)

 

  • “Pedagogy of participation” (pedagogia della participazione)—the framework of close home–school relationships and participation of parents and citizens in the governance of schools

 

  • “Pedagogy of documentation” (pedagogia della documentazione)—documenting what children are and the process of what they do, allowing children and adults to reread past experiences, to renew memories, and to rethink

 

  • “Cultural pedagogy” (pedagogia culturale)—the consciousness of the cultural nature of ideas and practices concerning children and education.”

 

I find this an incredibly interesting list of related pedagogical topics. If we learn to understand the different elements of education and creativity we can begin to form systems to train our children in the ways of the Lord, not just at our weekend services, but in our schools and homes as well.

 

Education is so much more than just the classroom, desks, teacher and white board. It’s an environment, it’s relationships, it’s documentation, the storing of information, it’s so many things combined to create an experience that changes lives, creates an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus through His Word and facilitates the formation of a deep relationship with the Creator of the universe.