Student Student I am a Student

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?





About Robert C Everhart

GK-12 Fellow University of Kansas
This entry was posted in 2011-2012 GK12, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Student Student I am a Student

  1. A student centered environment is absolutely necessary. Without it, you may be teaching but they probably won’t be learning much. Getting the student involved and engaged ensures some degree of buy-in from the student, and the chances of real learning increase dramatically. Otherwise, some won’t learn it at all, and others won’t remember it past the test. Unfortunately, not every teacher is allowed the necessary flexibility today, but the pendulum always swings back and forth, and hopefully at some point in your career you will get to experience a happy medium between control and autonomy which hits the right balance!

    • Robert C Everhart says:

      Thank you for comment Patsye!

      It’s heartening to hear that a student centered environment is indeed the goal out there. I am realizing with my time in urban middle schools that it is very difficult to strike a working balance between structure and flexibility.

      As a scientist operating in a university setting, I am rarely confronted with the need to monitor student behavior. I guess I am just really struck by the sheer amount of time and resources that need to be devoted to essentially policing the students and making sure they are where they are supposed to be at a particular time. It is good to hear that sometimes the pendulum swings the other way as well. I would hate to think that the trend is only in one direction.

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