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The Didactic Pentangle
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Models help thinking by affording overviews of main points and relations between some of them, if not all of them. Below are a few pedagogy models that are good for reflection. The lines and sides (many aspects) reveal sides to teaching (and learning) to look into and profit from by taking a lot of sides and aspects to teaching (and learning) into account, without overlooking them. In other words, the illustration expresses basic sides to the endeavour, and offers a wide range of aspects to look into and relate to one another.

The Didactic Pentagram

The Didactic pentagram
Figure 1. The didactic pentagram

A study of the pentagram (star) and outer and inner pentagons (polygons) can pay off handsomely.

The five points at the rim include the well known "learning material", student, and teacher and two more that often appear where persons learn something:

  1. Self-help and Internet pages
  2. Learner (student, pupil, anyone having a learning experience)
  3. Informer (teacher, someone who informs and the like)
  4. Management
  5. Content (article or book on a Internet site, etc.

One or more of these are normally involved in a typical learning situation.

Some seek learning; they are "propelled" from inside. Others have learning pushed onto them; they suffer from "obligatory readings" which in many cases are killjoys to learning with interest. And learning with interest, also called "being in the flow", is a great thing.

The five sides of the pentagon are suggested, they represent different sides to education and learning:

  1. Self-help instructions
  2. Explanations, instructions (much as in "catechisation" in fig. 2.)
  3. Rhetoric
  4. Divining
  5. Methodology in general

One aim of learning is to attain the fluency involved.

Example 1. A few of these sides to teaching (and learning)

The Didactic pentagram
Figure 2. An aspect to explore (coloured blue).

Triangle 1. The lines between 'Content', 'Management', and 'Self-help and the Internet' form a triangle which makes up one aspect, one side to teaching, or a field of teaching. The point of preponderance is in the middle, the points that "weighs more" in a study, is the focal point of a study.

(Note: A corresponding "side to learning, field of learning" is seen by the same lines, the same aspect, depending on the focus or interest. You may focus on the subject of teaching or that of learning, and view both as complementary, as you prefer. All these three are related to the red pentagon in the middle of the figure.)

Now what is such an aspect to teaching or teachings to be referred to, if at all? One of several possibilities is "Self-help management of Internet content in (public) education."

We can draw a great many supporting triangles and other polygons in order to enlarge our view of such as triangle 1 above. For example, (a) "Mangement-Content-Learner", (b) "Content-Self-help-Informer", (3) "Management-Self-help-Learner" and (4) "Management-Self-help-Informer" capture the core pentagram - the subject of teaching and learning. In this way they help us when we dive into the subject of 'Content' so as to get a focus or aim at the "real thing": teaching for learning. The preponderance of focus on one point (angle), such as 'Content', should be helped by taking into account all sides and aspects linked to it, or linked to the first triangle (fig. 2).

We can draw lines from each of the three angles in fig. 1 across the circle and back to one of them, and end up with still more triangles, that is, topics of interest, to take into account.

Triangle 2. If we draw lines between 'Content', 'Learner', and 'Informer, being informed', we get a (for most part green) triangle. It includes the red pentagon at the centre of the figure). Clarifying figure:

The Didactic pentagram
Figure 3. A supporting triangle to the blue triangle to explore.

The common point of both triangles is 'Content'. Further, there is an overlapping area in the middle of the first triangle. Also, the "core of teaching (red pentagram)" can be discerned more accurately by the help of the second, supplementing triangle. And that second triangle tells, in its way, how the levels and developmental needs of learners should decide how information bringers (text books, etc) is to present material or act; how learners are best informed at different stages and in different circumstances and so on. Further, the adequate content of teaching, a profitable curriculum, is at best an outcome of these two - the capactities and needs of learners and information or presentation best suited to them.

If these further sides to teaching is adequately adjusted to, the first triangle gets a more accurate direction from 'Content' into 'Teaching for learning', for example by the aid of Internet and interest managed somehow.

It goes on and on in this way. Figure 4 shows another supportive triangle, and illustrate more or less overlapping areas to be studied for a balanced overview and for a happier outcome.

The Didactic pentagram
Figure 4. A supporting triangle to the blue triangle to explore.

The Didactic pentagram
Figure 5. Another supporting triangle to figure 1. In it, the side of teaching that is called 'Divining', is a first concern. In this series it relates to 'Content'.

As may be seen, all the points of figure 1 relate to one another in an intricate way in a system of concerns, interests, and proficiencies. You may write many clarifying and helpful books on top of this one survey figure. And you could really make a difference if you stick to it.

Example 2

Try to divine the best management of curriculum (content) for study (see figure 4 to find the yellowish triangle). How can this field of teaching be made profitable? By putting the divining in the perspective of what is fit and good for the learner. It is done by drawing a support triangle between management, content, and learner, and should theoretically at least capture 'teaching outcomes' that are at least inherently profitable.

So, when we divine (guess, figure) what content and management is fit, think of the needs of growing learners, and stick to it. We may do well to adjust to these two triangles for sticking to our main subject and not getting templet to "fatten on diverted things", for example what is popular online at any time. It may be best to go for something more substantial than that. Also, "information fit for self-help" will not quite fit the formal requirements of content in almost any formal school setting.

On figure 1, putting things into perspective may be done in several ways. The one shown above used a simple "opposite" to the divining efforts.

Being diverted from a subject is simply suggested by "things" or topics ca. 90 degrees away from it.

There are still more ways to read the figure. It is found to be generally best to move with the clock (sun) for constructive outlets or outcomes, just as in the acupuncture approach to an array of system elements.

Acupuncture's system model, awarding cycle

Lessons
Figure 2. Acupuncture Model.

This is a correlation: See for yourself how far such a systemic approach fits the art of teaching:

There are constructive outlets and destructive ones. Rudeness tends to belong to the destructive elements of a life.

What is called the constructive cycle of elements in ancient acupuncture is regularly applied in the treatment. Ancient Indian scriptures name what correspond to the acupuncture system elements, bhutas.

The "cycling" involved in constructive outlets is represented by a spinning sun. Anticlockwise spin on the other hand brings on wails, disorder, discord, derangement fit for destructive agents, illness and worse.

Both ways are found in nature. But adapted to good teaching, which should be a constructive activity throughout, it is the fertile, rewarding "with the sun" spin that is to made active all along.

In the next chapter three of the sides of the pentagram are told of.

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The Didactic Triangle

There are some difficult key terms below. Some of them are explained briefly further down.

The Didactic Triangle
Figure 3. The Didactic Triangle

Professor Stefan Hopmann at the Institut für Bildungswissenschaft in Wien, says that one may come across the didactic triangle in several versions. Its three pillars and the reciprocal influence (or interaction) between them constitute didactics with content, informer, and pupil/student.

  1. OF TEACHING: The heritage of rhetorics lays the foundation of the informer's presentation of the content.
  2. OF WORKING ALONG: The catechization heritage influences reveal themselves in the interaction between informers and pupil/student.
  3. OF LEARNING: Methodology is related to the pupil's or student's learning and his or her (learning) experiences. [All: Uljens 1997:201]

Who first made the schematization is unknown. It existed in principle in the "Didactica Magna" by Jan Comenius. [Uljens 1997:201n]

Hopmann goes somewhat cursorily into salient points and facets of the model on further pages [Uljens 1997:201-07].

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Some Key Terms

One or more of the central meanings of a key term may suggest insights that could bring benefits.

Catechize: to instruct systematically especially by questions, answers, and explanations and corrections; to question systematically or searchingly.

Didactic: systematic instruction.

Divining: to discover intuitively; have hunches (Bruner); infer; to discover or locate things by way of intuitive means; to practice divination; to perceive intuitively; foresee. Divining in some of its main meanings can and should lead into forestalling.

Informer: A teacher, or someone who imparts knowledge or news. One whose occupation is tocounsel, instruct, discipline, and/or educate.

Manage: to handle or direct with a degree of skill; to make and keep compliant; to treat with care; to exercise executive, administrative, and supervisory direction of; to work upon or try to alter for a purpose; to succeed in accomplishing; contrive; to direct the professional career of.

Also: to direct or carry on business or affairs; to direct team work; to achieve one's purpose; conduct.

Methodology: a body of methods, rules, and postulates employed by a discipline; a particular procedure or set of procedures; the analysis of the principles or procedures of inquiry in a particular field.

Rhetoric: the art of speaking or writing effectively: as the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times; the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion; skill in the effective use of speech; a type or mode of language or speech; also insincere or grandiloquent language; verbal communication; discourse.

Contents


The Didactic pentagram and Didactic Triangle, Literature  

Something to chew on along with the article references:

Ally, Mohamed, and Avgoustos Tsinakos. Increasing Access through Mobile Learning. Vancouver, BC: Commonwealth of Learning and Athabasca University, 2014.

Andersen, Jonathan, and Tom van Weert, eds, Information and Communication Technology in Education: A Curriculum for Schools and Programme of Teacher Development. Paris: Unesco, Division of Higher Education, 2001.

Bruner, Jerome S. In Search of Pedagogy. Volume I. The Selected Works of Jerome S. Bruner. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2006.

Collins III, John W., and Nancy Patricia O'Brien, eds. The Greenwood Dictionary of Education. 2nd ed. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2011.

Flynn, Naomi, and Rhona Stainthorp. The Learning and Teaching of Reading and Writing. Chichester, West Sussex: Whurr Publishing, 2006.

Hinchey, Patricia. Becoming a Critical Educator: Defining a Classroom Identity, Designing a Critical Pedagogy. New York: Peter Lang, 2004.

Pellegrino, James W., Naomi Chudowsky, and Robert Glaser, eds. Knowing What Students Know: The Science and Design of Educational Assessment. Washington DC: National Academy Press, 2001.

Steiner, Rudolf. Balance in Teaching. Great Barrington, MA: Anthroposophic Press / SteinerBooks, 2007.

Uljens, Michael, ed: Didaktik - teori, reflektion och praktik. Studentlitteratur. Lund, 1997.

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