Contextualising Theory in Practice

Essay by Richard.AUniversity, Bachelor's February 2004

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"I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand"

(Confucius date unknown)

Practice is often depicted as the act of doing something and is usually contrasted to theory. From theory can be derived general principles (or rules). These in turn can be applied to the problems of practice. Theory is 'real' knowledge, while practice is the application of that knowledge to solve problems or practically conduct the theory received. This particularly applies to the Senior Command Course where the vast majority of our theory lectures are transformed to practice at a later stage of the course. In many ways, this is a legacy of Aristotle and his three-fold classification of disciplines as theoretical, productive or practical. (telos translates as 'purpose').

The purpose of a theoretical discipline is the pursuit of truth through contemplation; its telos is the attainment of knowledge for its own sake.

The purpose of the productive sciences is to make something; their telos is the production of some artefact. The practical disciplines are those sciences which deal with ethical and political life; their telos is practical wisdom and knowledge. (Carr & Kemmis 1986: p 32)

As an instructor on the aforementioned course I have changed my learning styles as I have gained in experience. This is due to critical evaluation and reflecting on the theory I have instructed and how the students have assimilated that theory and subsequently turned it into practice. In this assignment I will critically evaluate how theory informs practice and vice versa, with my main focus being on the students of the Senior Command Course.

The study for the certificate in education has awakened me to the vast diversity of theories relating to teaching and...