Elemental, Dumbledore

I'm not a massive fan of the elemental framework that Empedocles and others built up, or the four humours promoted by Galen and other medics. It strikes me as rather too simplistic. However, it does form a convenient tool for exploring ideas. Much is made in education of learning styles, but we might as equally talk about teaching styles.

Earth teachers (Jung's sensation function)  are practical people who prefer to demonstrate skills which students can then emulate. Not that I've ever attended such a class, but probably best suited to teaching pragmatic crafts like carpentry, car mechanics or catering. The hands-on approach to mastering the implementation of talents.

Air teachers (thinking function as Jung would have it) develop the intellectual approach, uses the tools of chalk and talk to stimulate the minds of students. Discussion and debate are regular features of the air/thinking class. Air teachers are those who find their own specialism fascinating, and convey that to learners. I've met a fair few who are so wrapped up in their topic that they forget to check if the students are still following them, and often leave a few behind by not explaining the basics sufficiently before leaping headlong into complex concepts and jargon terms.

Fire/intuitive teachers most strongly demonstrate their gifts through teaching art, drama, music and other creative subjects. The main focus of the teacher is to inspire students with their passion for the subject, and to help the pupils find their own creative voice, their individual expression.

Water/feeling teachers are frequently to be found working with special needs students, because their speciality is bonding with and nurturing students, building their confidence and sense of emotional security. The subject being taught is secondary to the need to feel valued, and indeed may not take place without first establishing that link. A teacher who tends to this approach is liable to be left on the back foot if faced with dislikeable students who are difficult if not impossible to emotionally engage.

Of course almost all teachers, at whatever academic level, will draw on a mixture of these approaches depending on the subject taught, the age and ability group etc. Teaching psychology is very much an air/thinking based approach, though there's a fair room for emotional bonding and support (several of my former students have commented that the classes can become almost like therapy sessions at times). Most, I suspect, will tend to drift predominantly towards one style though. The chicken and egg discussion is best avoided, as it's unlikely to be resolved whether the character of the teacher determines their preference for subject matter and teaching style, or if the subjects taught eventually necessitate a particular approach.

My own preference is for the air/thinking style of teaching, though I have extremely few opportunities to engage in that approach this year. As this is a public blog, it is probably unwise to explore how these themes relate to my current work requirements ~ except to note that it is really quite difficult to have to adopt a new mode of teaching. Whether or not the experience becomes in any way rewarding I will explore in due course via the private blog. I am wondering about the possibility (and feasibility) of creating/finding some leisure learning courses that might provide the intellectual stimulation and engagement.


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