Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On Student-Centered Education

We hear talk about how education needs to be "student-centered" -- as though education could be anything else. What, then, is meant by the term "student-centered"? Among the postmodernists who came up with it, it typically means "giving the students what they want, even if it's not good for them." This isn't student-centered. This is student-undermining.

Being student-centered does not mean students should get to decide anything regarding the way the class is structured, now the teacher teaches, what the assignments are, or when and how often they are assigned. Naturally, the teacher should teach in such a way that (s)he reaches the students, but rarely do the students themselves know what works best for them. More, they do not know what they need to know or what assignments they need to learn it. If they did, they wouldn't have to be in the class.

Being student-centered does not mean anyone gets treated differently due to circumstances. If you signed up for the class, you decided you had the time to do the assignments on time.

Being student-centered does not mean you give in to their whining. It does not mean you even put up with their whining. There should be a strict no-whining policy that, when violated, results in expulsion from the class. There is a huge difference between legitimate complaints and whining, and administrators need to learn the difference.

Most of all, being student-centered does not mean you should refrain from criticizing -- or even shaming -- the student. If you cannot correct, you cannot teach.
Post a Comment