“In just about every area of society, there is nothing more important than ethics.” Ethics, rules, values, code of conduct, etc. are feathers of the same bird. They all fall under one umbrella.

Maxims, similarly, are short statements that are considered as a general rule of conduct. The maxims of teaching are a set of statements that experienced teachers have put forward. These maxims are universal facts and are accepted throughout the globe. When a teacher understands the maxims effectively, the teaching gets more systematic and efficient.

To put it in a simple manner, if you were to assemble a wardrobe, you would need a guidebook. The guide will tell you how to assemble the parts and the order that you should follow. Without a guide, you are just working your way through assumptions and guesses. This might take longer and the results might not be satisfactory. Similarly, when you are preparing the students and assembling their knowledge and capabilities, there is a way to do it and you must follow a certain order. These are pointed out by the maxims of teaching.

Let us take a look at the maxims of teaching.

Maxims of Teaching

We will be discussing the maxims of teaching with examples so as to make this seemingly difficult idea, easier to understand.

1.From Known to Unknown

This is a maxim that throws light on previous and acquired knowledge that the students might have. The students might know some concepts and the teachers should introduce the unknown through the known concepts. For example, breathing and eating are known concepts that all students might be familiar with. However, respiratory functions and digestive functions might be an unknown concept. Teachers must acknowledge the known and take the students to the unknown. This way, teaching can be made effective.

2.Simple to Complex

It is a given that simple concepts are taught first and then teachers move on to complex topics. The simple concepts lay a foundation for teaching the more complicated concepts. This applies to all the grades and all the subjects. For example, the story is a simple concept (relatively) and the figures and analysis is a complex concept. Teachers must gradually increase the complexity.

3.From Concrete to Abstract

Abstract concepts are those that are intangible. It cannot be seen since it does not have a physical form. For instance, infinity, BODMAS, and likewise are abstract concepts whereas numbers and counting, etc. are concrete and can be taught using physical objects. When we look at the maxims of teaching closely, it can be observed that all the maxims have a simple beginning point and it gradually grows and travels to a more defined, complex plot.

4.From Particular to General

In this article, you will notice that all the maxims and statements are simplified using examples. The same thing must be done while teaching. A particular instance or scenario must be taken into account while explaining the concept and then the students can be asked to generalize the same. For example, when you are teaching present tense and past tense, you should take one or two sentences in particular and explain the concept. The students can then be asked to generalize the principle and apply it in all similar situations.

5.From Whole to Part

While teaching, the teacher must try and introduce the student to the whole lesson first and then move on to the intricacies of it. The crux of the lesson must be discussed first and then the lesson can be taught in parts. Suppose if you are teaching a poem by Sylvia Plath, you can talk about what the poem is and what it discusses. Then, you can move on to analyze the poetic devices, words used, the mindset of the poet, and likewise.

6.From Psychological to Logical

One of the things that teachers should always keep in mind is the capacity, interest, and abilities of their students. The concepts must be taken across by keeping these things in the forefront. At least during the early stages of learning. The logical part is the evaluation, assessment, and likewise that the teacher has to do. This is a student-centered maxim and is applicable to the younger kids.

7.From Induction to Deduction

While teaching, teachers should drive from induction to deduction. Induction is nothing but arriving at a conclusion by observing a set of given statements of examples and deduction is the process of arriving at a conclusion after examining all the possibilities.  For example, Annie got an Apple from the box, Janson got an apple from the box, and hence, the box is full of apples is inductive reasoning.

Examining the box, canceling the other possibilities, and arriving at a learned conclusion is called deductive reasoning.

8.From Empirical to Rational

Empirical knowledge is verifiable whereas rationale is based on logic and principles., The teachers should introduce the students to empirical ideas first and then move on to rational concepts. Empirical is achieved through experience and observation. It is a journey from smaller maturity levels to higher levels.

9.From Analysis to Synthesis

This is much like differentiation and integration in mathematics. Well, I was not a fan of these concepts. So, let me break it down. An analysis is nothing but dividing a problem into digestible bites and synthesis is the coming together of these parts. While analysis is an approach to a problem, synthesis is a solution or a remedy. For example, a sentence will have different parts like verbs, nouns, and likewise. Analyzing the sentence would mean breaking it down into verbs, nouns, punctuation, etc., and synthesizing is putting all this together.

Everything under the sun has a code of conduct. While it is not necessary to fall into this orbit and revolve around the defined maxims, it definitely helps to make the journey seamless and effective. Much like assembling a wardrobe with a guidebook, teaching according to the maxims of teaching can be easy, efficient, and effective.

Some books talk about the twelve maxims of teaching. The additional three are spin-offs or extensions of the ones that are mentioned here. These maxims help to catalyze the teaching-learning process.

Hope this article was helpful. We will be back with yet another informative article. Stay tuned for the same.

Until then,

Happy teaching!