Pedagogy & Content Knowledge in Teaching

Best Practices & Most Efficient Practices: Striking a Balance in the Classroom

I want to agree with the ideas behind PCK and TPACK.

PCK: Pedagogy knowledge vs. Content knowledge in the classroom. Essentially, knowing why we teach/how students learn vs. what they learn and understanding multiple ways of teaching/understanding content.

TPACK: Similar to PCK, but with the additional layer of complexity involving technology in each layer.

In a perfect world, all teachers would have sufficient pedagogical knowledge for why they teach the way they do, and their theoretical frameworks for how children learn (regardless of framework chosen, at least be aware of why they do what they do and be able to back it up with sound evidence. I also want to see teachers aware of their content that they teach, to understand it from multiple perspectives, and to be able to apply this content knowledge to best practices in their teaching. However, not every school district has the ability to hire teachers with diverse amounts of pedagogical and content knowledge in their practice. 

For instance, during a teacher shortage, often times we end up hiring any teacher with a certificate. Many school districts have turned to pre-service teachers as taking over mat leave positions and long term substitution due to low staff. The same is true of trades and specialist teachers, often times a tradesman with their red seal will be given special permission to teach a trades class based on their content knowledge, despite having no pedagogical teacher training. Many elementary math teachers still have difficulties passing basic math fluency tests, especially with regards to algebra and problem solving skills without technology uses. 

I see the concepts of PCK and TPACK as ideals to strive towards, not necessarily as ideals that will ever be reached, but rather as a "heaven" for teachers to strive towards in their practice, and for organizations to strive towards in their hiring practices. 

 

New Teacher Training & Over-Influential Instruction of Pedagogy

In my own pre-service teacher training, I noticed an over reliance of pedagogy over content knowledge being stressed. Even in my Master's program, a Masters of Educational Technology, it was possible to design a course load to graduate without ever using technologies outside of websites & a word processing program. Seems a little strange to me. 

As for my own experience, I most recently discovered my own lack of content knowledge in teaching a lesson, and due to this lack of content knowledge, I was unable to effectively teach a programming course using Scratch for Grade 3-4 students until I was able to do enough independent practice to be able to effectively teach the program to students. Without this content knowledge, and the ability to apply programming concepts to the point that I could browse through code to discover where the issue lay, my lessons were ineffective for getting students to ingrain coding concepts beyond simple "if this then that" statements.