You’re wondering what I am… (student student I am a student)
Ok. SO I have this song going through my head, but I digress…
I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the posts on this blog from my colleagues and about the “learner-centered” education model that we have been discussing.
In my experience with public education, our focus as a country is to get our kids in to school, get them to sit quietly and do what they’re told, get them to hopefully learn, get them to take assessments, and then get them on to the next grade level and eventually out into the world. In our gk-12 seminar discussions and readings (specifically How People Learn), we have focused on how to teach in a manner that will promote learning, retention, and ownership of knowledge. In essence, how do we help learners to integrate new knowledge into the framework that they already have? Obviously, this is a huge field of study, and there are no simple answers.
We consistently agree that individuals are doing the learning, and that individuals learn differently. Yet, we see the model of public education is not tailored to individual learning, and whether we find it appropriate or not, we are where we are… in an administration-centered education model. In my experience, most teachers are required to manage their classrooms more than they are required to teach their students (especially in public K-12 schools).
I suppose beyond generally whining about this (a fact which we all seem to know, acknowledge, and collectively shrug our shoulders at), I would like to commend those teachers who endeavor to engage students individually whenever and however they can. It seems that it only takes a few small, shared experiences between learner and instructor to acknowledge that there is more to a classroom than seating assignments and office referrals. Additional explanations, different projects, or even different approaches can make a huge difference. Sometimes, it seems, learning opportunities arise in a different order or different form than the district-recommended time line and curriculum. While there are many reasons for such administrative frameworks, again many of them not only valid but essential, in my view there has to be some room for professional educators to respond to the individual students in their classroom.
SO… I have a question for you professional educators who are reading this blog… is a learner-centered environment possible or even necessary in public schools? What do you think?