What is learner-centered learning?
Students are viewed as unique in meaningful ways. Instruction is designed to meet each student where he or she is. It means knowing that each student has unbound potential and that with the right approach, it can be tapped and brought forth.
While this seems like a natural way to offer instruction, the opposite of this approach is often more typical. Within many modern classrooms, educators are required to follow a curricular schedule, having to teach a certain lesson one day and move onto another lesson the next, regardless of whether students fully comprehend and make meaning out of the content.
“Learner centered” curriculum prioritizes time on task as needed to explore, to wonder, to question and yes, delve deeply. It is less about quantity of material covered and more of a focus on quality of learning and instruction, in connection with a student. The goal is to help a student to think as oneself, generate ideas, gain the courage to speak up, recognizing one’s value as an individual and as part of the whole.
The conventional education system is fraught with inefficiencies, inequity, and inflexibility. The system’s inability to powerfully serve all children, regardless of background or circumstance, is one of the core reasons we embark on a learner-centered transformation journey in the first place.
But, when something as ground shaking as a global pandemic hits, it’s natural to gravitate back toward what’s familiar—even if it’s just for a short time until some form of “normal” returns.
It’s now been seventeen months since the United States entered its first wave of lockdowns and mandates and COVID-19 remains front page news. A quick return to “normal” never came.
So, now what? Do we continue placing our learner-centered work on hold? Or, do we search for a way to reignite that spark, motivation, and belief that we can transform education and learning, even during times of chaos and uncertainty.
~ Alin Bennett of Education Reimagined Learning Lab