This article offers a brief look at how teachers' styles vary based on how general or specific the learning is. More important, it shows how recognizing one's "range style" can make teaching more effective.
What you see in the diagram above is a circle. This deceptively simple circle represents the range of human learning, from the specific to the general.
What is important to notice is that there are only three basic teaching roles; the "specialist," the "generalist," and the "naturalist." More so, the polar opposite of the "naturalist" is where no learning of any kind occurs. How can this be? First, the roles.
Let me start by telling you what these three roles represent. In the simplest sense, they represent how much detail the teacher offers, from an abundance of very small details to the broadest of generalizations. In the middle, of course, is the balance of these two.
What is the point of all this?
The main point is to give teachers a visual ratio for learning. In other words, this diagram represents a visual analog for the actual learning process. Teachers who learn it then get to recognize the route by which they can create the ideal teaching / learning environment. What would this environment look like?
In the ideal learning environment, both teachers and students would begin any new learning within the "holistic" zone, as "naturalists." Then, as students progressively incorporated more and more visual ratios for this learning, the teacher would then encourage the students to slowly try on both the "generalist" and the "specialist" roles, while at the same time watching for students who have exceeded their visual capacity and so, have gone into shock.
Here, then, is the second value in having teachers visually incorporate this diagram. In other words, should a student stray too far into the generalist role, a teacher could then use her knowledge of the ranges and roles to counter with the equal and opposite remedy, in this case, to step into the specialist role. Like wise, should a student stray too far into the specialist role, a teacher could then use her knowledge of the ranges and roles to counter by stepping into the generalist role.
Ideally then, all teaching / learning would begin, and end, with both teachers and students in the naturalist role. Why? Because true learning; meaning, emergences, happen only within the holistic zone. And true anti-learning; meaning, boredom, happens only within the dead zone.