What sets progressive education apart from traditional education is its child-centered or student-centered approach. This is different from what most people are familiar with, which is teacher-directed learning.
It’s easier to get a clearer picture of what child-centered learning is by looking at what it is not. In teacher-directed learning, these are often what we see:
• Students work to meet the objectives set by the teacher
• Students complete activities designed by the teacher to achieve goals determined by the teacher
• Students respond to directions and step by step instruction from the teacher as they progress through activities
• Students are given extrinsic motivators like grades and rewards as a means of motivating them to complete work
• Students work in groups determined by the teacher-the teacher is in control of group membership
• Student work is evaluated solely by the teacher
List above taken from modernschool.org.
It is, therefore, the teacher’s goal to redirect learning so that students are actively involved in the process and that the teacher serves as a guide and collaborator. Below is an infographic that lists different things to look for in a student-centered learning environment. Teachers may use this as a guide to adjust their own lesson plans, and parents may use this as a guide in determining what it is they want for their child when looking for a school.
Read more about the graphic above from the article 8 Things to Look For in a Student-Centered Learning Environment by Emily Liebtag.
In child-centered education, teachers take the time to really get to know each student—their personality, their learning style, their skills, their interests—to be able to design lesson plans that tap into each of their strengths. When students are actively involved in their own learning, they are more engaged and it increases the likelihood of information retention.
Examples of activities that can be done inside the classroom that shift the focus from the teacher to the learners are allowing them to choose a project that will demonstrate what they have learned, performing a skit, or perhaps even creating a video presentation.
However, what is even more important than learning new information and being able to remember these are the other lifelong skills they learn that cannot be taught explicitly. They learn to collaborate with one another, how to compromise when they reach disagreements, and how to persevere when they are met with challenges that eventually help them to improve their self-esteem. By directing their own learning, they become independent lifelong learners with a love and passion for the pursuit of new knowledge. These are the aspects of child-centered education that make learning a holistic experience for the students.
Child Centered Learning. (n.d.).
Retrieved from https://www.modernschool.org/child-centered-learning/Head of School Matthew Gould Reflects on the Benefits of Child-centered Teaching and Whole-child Education. (n.d.).
Retrieved from https://www.norwoodschool.org/child-centered-education#
Liebtag, E. (2017, August 10).8 Things to Look For in a Student-Centered Learning Environment.
Retrieved from https://www.gettingsmart.com/2017/08/8-things-look-student-centered-learning-environment/
Piptree. (2018, February 28). The Benefits Of Child-Centred Education.
Retrieved from https://www.piptree.com.au/benefits-child-centred-education/
Progressive Education Overview. (n.d.).
Retrieved from https://thechildrenssangha.com/progressive-education-overview/
Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash