The Advantages & Disadvantages Of ‘Mastery Teaching’

The Advantages & Disadvantages Of ‘Mastery Teaching’
Mastery is a concept through which children are all taught the same syllabus or skills simultaneously, but are only moved on individually once they have become secure with the subject matter through support and guidance. This type of teaching exists to encourage learners to attain a greater level of appreciation and understanding of the teaching material as they cannot progress until they can demonstrate their learning and understanding. On paper, it is the perfect way for people of all ages to learn at their own pace and through the methods and modes that facilitate them best – however, the way in which mastery is conducted can impact upon how effective it is in practice. Here are a few ways in which the concept can be broken down into advantages and disadvantages.
The Advantages of Mastery

  • As Rachel Jackson discusses, the main benefits of Mastery lie in its innate ability to enable learners to gain greater appreciation of their subject material by looking at it from different angles, as opposed to rushing through modules – it is a misconception that children who are quicker at subjects such as mathematics are necessarily more skilled than those who take their time.
  • Mastery focuses on allowing all pupils and students to progress at their own pace and to take their time to focus on problem solving and various outcomes of a scenario, thus avoiding hurried glossing-over of skills and knowledge. Hurrying learning along can impact negatively upon individual skillsets and knowledge recall in later life, making Mastery all the more appealing.
  • Mastery ensures that everyone receives the same level and scope of teaching without the risk of pupils being left behind – it exists to enable all children on one particular syllabus to receive equal knowledge.

The Disadvantages of Mastery

  • Managing Mastery in large groups can be complex – Bill Bennett discusses that, as learners all progress at different rates, there will be a necessity for more advanced students to be kept occupied while slower learners reach the same level of appreciation. This may lead to more advanced pupils having to be held back from progressing until their peers all reach the same level.
  • Lowell Horton discusses that mastery is a fairly optimistic model for learning which will require wide-scale agreement upon what specific goals should be attained – after all, how does one define a ‘master’ within a subject unless such goals are clearly defined? This, Horton argues, will require the profession to come together to agree to such specificity if the model is to work in practice.
  • Horton further establishes that employing mastery may be particularly difficult in practice from a teacher’s perspective – indicating that a tutor will need to be invested in the concept wholly in order for such a method to work. This is due to an increase in time and effort on the part of an educator that mastery can take to implement effectively.
The divisions are clear – Mastery may work well in practice as well as in theory, but it will require extensive effort and time on the part of a school or educator in order for it to be particularly effective. If a school or organisation is interested in employing mastery as a learning method, thorough planning must be employed in order for both the education board and any teachers involved to be prepared to exercise it.
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