What is your Teaching Paradigm?

The question above is almost always present in every job interview. Almost always present but not really expected. It’s a question that can throw any teacher completely off guard, make us cringe or on the other hand, make us stop and actually reflect.

Though this question may be commonly encountered during the job interviews, it doesn’t and shouldn’t mean it should be left there. After five, ten even forty years of teaching, do we go back and answer this question? Can we answer this crystal clearly and unflinchingly?  Do we even have an answer for this one?

Perhaps it’s better to ask ourselves, “do I even HAVE a teaching philosophy?”

Perhaps, we’ve been draining all our energies and efforts in the classroom without really having a concrete set of teaching beliefs to hold on to. Inevitably, our classroom activities and actions seem in conflict with each other.

Fear not if you’ve forgotten the various teaching philosophies. Here’s a quick look at some of them:

We hope that revisiting these terms would help clarify your teaching beliefs:

Philosophies on Education

  1. Behaviorism – is the belief that students learn through an external stimulus, thus the need for rewards and punishment
  2. Cognitivism – argues that students learn through the different mental processes such as thinking, memory, knowing and problem-solving
  3. Constructivism – believes that students learn by “constructing” connections between new information and background knowledge (schema)
  4. Humanism – is a worldview that students learn because self-actualization is the ultimate goal of human beings
Follow the path

These are the major teaching paradigms. Interestingly, we can already decipher their meanings simply by looking at their names. If you are a teacher who believes that students learn by mastering their behavior, then consider yourself a behaviorist. You’re a cognitivist if you feel that students learn by unleashing their cognitive (or brain) power. If you think that students need to understand new information by relating it to what they already know, then you are a constructivist. But if you argue that students learn because they want to be the best person that they can be, then call yourself a humanist.

What if, after reading this, you realize that you believe in all the philosophies? What if you’re the type who combines some of the features of all the philosophies and adopt them in your classroom? Does that mean that what you’re doing is wrong? Once again, have no fear. It means you’re an eclectic.

We hope that as teachers, we continue to reflect on our teaching paradigm. This way, we are continually guided on how we approach our students’ learning.

Happy teaching!


As a challenge, look into your lesson plans, teaching materials and assessments, and try to find out which teaching philosophy you uphold. =)


Argee Abadines is the founder and chief content engineer of this website. He is a brain based educator and his educational interests are higher order thinking, creativity, and educational technology. He reads up regularly about trends in education and online media. You can visit his personal blog at pinoyminimalist.com


  1. This post came at just the right time, as I am reevaluating my resume, and articulating my beliefs about education. I am a constructivist with tendencies toward eclecticism and problem-solving (cognitivism).
    But I wonder in that interview, or in my head, or in dialogue with another person, what words we would use to express our deepest beliefs at any given moment. Mine might include the opinion that people learn in community, or that learning is a shared experience. (At least, classroom learning is…)
    What about you?

    1. Thanks, Gordon for you insights! It’s great to know that you came across this article at just the right moment. What you said is true. Students do learn by helping each other. At times, they even become each other’s best teacher! That’s why we have cooperative learning strategies.

      Being an eclectic is wonderful since you’re able to identify the strong points of each philosophy and incorporate them in your teaching. Personally, I am an eclectic leaning towards constructivism just like you.

      It’s really admirable that you’re reflecting on your own teaching paradigm. Happy teaching!

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