concept is a process which helps a person to recognize similarities in otherwise
diverse objects, situations or events. It is a cognitive organizing system which
brings the pertinent features of past experiences to bear upon a present object
or stimulus. In other words, it is the ability of the person to distill all of
the essential similarities from a series of objects and events and see those similarities
in an object or event which he has not seen before.
we are to teach a child about a tree-we give him one object as a representative
of a tree-say, we point to a mango tree and say 'this is a tree'. A little later
we may point to another tree, say, a coconut tree, and ask him 'what is that?'
He has no tree. So if he does not say 'tree', we may think that the child has
not paid attention or is not as bright as he should be. You may point out the
fact that you have told him about a tree. So the child learns after a variety
of experiences to see the similarities in the trees although the coconut tree
looked different from the mango tree. He begins to generalize - or see that they
stand straight-they have leaves, trunk, bark. Thus when he gets more and more
acquainted with trees he comes to make thee generalizations and he comes to know
that a tree is a tree, although it may have characteristics unlike any he has
ever seen before. He will give those characteristics which are similar to all
trees and leave out those characteristics which are not similar, e.g., the mango
tree covers a lot of space whereas the coconut tree does not cover very much space.
The mango tree has branches whereas coconut tree does not have. So this is how
the concept is formed-the idea of taking all of the similarities from a body of
diverse things and seeing them as having certain common family characteristics.
people are not able to generalize or form concepts easily. They are not able to
recognize even in conversation ideas which are not very specific and explained.
They are not able to see relevances. And when a person gives an example, the listener
may not understand what the person is talking about, because he has a very narrow
idea of the concepts that are involved in the conversation. He just does not see
the common elements in the example which fit.
Responsibility in Developing Concepts
student really cannot get to the point of knowing about a subject area unless
he can generalize on that area; has concepts about the subject. The teacher should
help the students to classify, to organize, to unify ideas and details under generalized
headings. This training will help the student to learn concepts more effectively.
teachers fail to help the student to form concepts by failing to create a learning
situation that is conducive to learning concepts. They make learning situations
little discrete units and do not bring all of them together to show organization
and how they fit together . For example, teaching phonics apart and separate from
language is an illustration of poor concept teaching. Phonics should be taught
as a part of the whole of language. The relationships between phonics and other
aspects of reading should be made clear.
concept formation there are factors other than good teaching. Maturity is another.
A younger child does not have the maturity nor the experience to form concepts.
The general level of intelligence will also have something to do with concept
formation. Teachers should be aware of these age levels and should be willing,
able and knowledgeable about expanding the student's world in the formation of
these concepts when he is able and willing and mentally capable of doing so. This
can be done by having all kinds of experiences available rather than giving only
lectures. There should be experiences that the student can involve himself in.
These ideas about concept formation can be tied in with perception. We understand
through experience, and our whole perception is an accumulation of experiences.
The way in which we are able to perceive objects and events conditions how we
form concepts that we have condition the perception we make.
thing to keep in mind is that the experiences that teachers give should be relevant.
Teachers have to search out for the students' interests, aptitudes and things
that have relevance to the students' world. The materials have to be tailored
by the teacher to suit these needs. The materials have to be tailored by the teacher
to suit these needs. They have to be planned. Availability of materials in itself
does not guarantee good teaching. These machines and tools that are used in this
programme help. But no automated classroom can do by itself individualized programmes.
The teacher has to prepare them according to the needs of his students individually.
It is also a fact that more materials in a classroom does not make necessarily
a good learning situation. Also, too many machines alienate the students from
others-the sociological element is not there. We have to work with the students
in an ongoing social context. Relating classroom experiences to the everyday life
outside the classroom is another way of helping to build concepts for they can
see, know and learn through experiences common to them.