Student Centered Education
Updated: Jun 20, 2020
If you've written the curriculum before the student enters the classroom, you can't claim to be student centered.
Our students are naturally curious creatures, but over the course of a traditional academic career, we trade their curiosity for our definition of rigor. We have carefully crafted curricula based on our assumptions of the content that best suits their needs, but beyond the essential literacies (reading, writing, math), what do we really know about what our students will need now or in the future?
It's time to change our transactional curricula to transformative curricula. In a transactional classroom, the teacher asks the questions and the students are made to answer them— even if they have little to no interest in either the question or answer. In a transformational classroom, the student is responsible for both the questions and the answers; and then through conversation, the teacher can help push her thinking so that she can develop her ideas, and perhaps more importantly, a positive sense of self. Her questions about the world are important and our acknowledgment of those questions is an important validation. On her journey to answer her questions about cloud formations, she will encounter math, science, literature and history. Driven by her own innate thirst for knowledge, her skills in reading, writing and math will all progress. This is a much better way to approach science, for example, than everyone studying the same thing at the same time in the same way— it's boring just thinking about it.
A classroom that has a prescribed curriculum can only be adapted to students. A classroom that engages students in a dialogue about what drives their innate curiosities is a class designed for students. The students are the curriculum. Standards are a system. Text books are a revenue stream.
Markus Hunt is an educator, writer, speaker, and musician living in Aurora, Colorado.