Free «How to Teach Concepts» Essay

How to Teach Concepts


The author starts the chapter with a brief reminder of the previous chapter, then details the chapter on how to teach concepts and concludes with an overview of the next chapter. There are three methods of supporting data when teaching. These are: concepts, processes and facts. This chapter explores how concepts are taught, remembered and applied in different fields. Format training methods are detailed for both classrooms learning and e-learning. The author uses detailed examples to provide information how concepts are taught. The author emphasizes the application level more than remembrance level. Methods of assessing whether the objectives of teaching concepts are achieved are given at the end of the topic.

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A concept refers to a mental or prototypical presentation of an idea or object, which includes particular examples. Human language consists of various concepts such as baby, chair, food and other concepts mostly in the form of a noun. A single concept includes various examples. For instance, the concept ‘chair’ includes folding chairs, wheel chairs and rocking chairs (p. 82). The concept ‘fruit’ consists of various examples such as orange, avocado, apple and mango among others. Using concepts makes mental representation and language effective and efficient. It would be cumbersome and stressing to communicate using a specific word for every object and idea. Concepts have similar characteristics, which makes it easy to categorize them. For example, trees have leaves, roots, stem and fruits. This feature is common in all trees irrespective of their size, smell or color (p. 83). Taking an example of cows, all have four legs, two ears, and they eat glass. Concepts take characteristics, which are similar to all elements in that group. Color, size, smell and length may vary in individual concepts.

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There are two types of concepts: abstract and concrete. Concrete concepts contain defined boundaries and parts which one can easily draw and label, for example, trees, chair and bicycles. Abstract concepts cannot be represented using graphics, because they are not tangible, such as integrity, credit and trust among others. Identifying concepts becomes hard, especially when the teacher or educator is familiar with the subject she is teaching. One tends to forget that what one is teaching is familiar to him/her and a concept to the learners.

Training concepts requires a teacher to provide relevant information regarding the concept, giving examples and then a test to assess the understanding of the learners. The process starts with a clear definition, which offers the basic features of the concept (p. 87). This is followed by various examples of the elements of the concept. For example, when teaching about trees, the facilitator can offer cypress, cedar and pine as examples of trees. In case it is possible to provide tangible examples, they should be presented as they give concrete understanding and remembrance. Picture examples can be offered if real examples are inapplicable. Analogies and counter examples enhance understanding of the concept. Analogies refer to the representation which functions like a concept, but it is not similar. Counter example refers to examples which are usually confused with the concept as they are not elements of the concept. After teaching concepts both in the classroom and e-learning, a test helps the facilitator to assess whether the objectives of the lessons were achieved. The test should be well prepared and the learners informed of the test. The facilitator should test everything that was taught using different examples from what was used in class. The learners should do their own work without any help from the facilitator. The author completes the chapter with highlights of the next topic (p. 102).

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The process of teaching concepts as described in this chapter is more or less the same with managing early childhood development. Early childhood development program involves a process of feeding the innocent mind of a child with data. The author explained how hard it is for the facilitator to identify concepts, especially if one is so familiar with the concept of discussion. The chapter details how the facilitator should identify concepts which are new to the learners and introduce them thoroughly. This reminds me of an event, which occurred after my high school. I joined a private primary school in our local area as an untrained teacher. I was assigned to teach mathematics in class two. This was a challenging task as an untrained fellow.

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I started with the topic fractions after revising the previous end of term exam. I introduced the topic and defined fraction as part of the whole. I then told the kids that when one whole is divided into two, we get half, we divide half by two and get a quarter, by dividing a quarter by two gives us an eighth. The eighth meant an end to the long topic. It took me twenty minutes out of the forty assigned for each lesson. The trained teacher in the next class came to my class and told me to stop joking. The topic was to be taught within three weeks. I asked the pupils to do an exercise, and none had understood anything in the fraction concept. I could see nothing hard in fractions as I thought that the kids knew it. I repeated the topic carefully and taught it for three weeks bit by bit.

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My favorite quote in the chapter is, “Using a chair as a non-example of a dog. Is this an effective example?” (p. 89). The author uses this example and illustrates it with a funny illustration where the teacher asks this question, and the learner is shown wondering what the teacher wants to say. I was confused when the authors said, “If one of your action steps is to place the zygometer on the reactive on the active receptacle of the erylitizer during the suctorial stage” (p. 85). The authors used too many hard concepts in the same sentence. It was an example but became complicated as the idea. 

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