"Where the learner is the curriculum" - John Dewey

What is Learner-Centered Curriculum?

Learner-Centered Curriculum is a teaching model based on the theories of child development put forth by theorist and educational greats such as John Dewey, Jean Paiget, and Lev Vygotsky. It is a movement in education that puts the child at the center of their own education.

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But what does that really mean?

Learning is most meaningful when it is relevant to a child's life and addresses their needs and interests. The learner-centered curriculum is rooted in this belief, molding learning opportunities and curriculum development around your individual child. In this way, your child is inherently motivated to engage in their own education. Students are given choices and are included in the classroom decision-making. As stated by John Dewey, the learner-centered model of education is "where the learner is the curriculum".

"Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each" - Plato

How does this compare to conventional education?

Learner-centered curriculum has emerged as an alternative to the conventional teacher-centered model seen in many classrooms. There are many benefits to the learner-centered model, as the table below demonstrates.

Teacher vs. Learner-Centered Instruction:
Focus is on the instructor. Knowledge is a one-way street.
Focus is on both the students and the instructor. Knowledge flows both ways and the students have a large role in their own education.
Instructor talks; students listen
Instructor models, coaches, and facilitates; students interact with instructor and one another
Students work alone
Students work in pairs, in groups, or alone depending on the purpose of the activity
Instructor monitors and corrects students
Instructor provides feedback/correction when questions arise
Instructor chooses topics
Students have a substantial influence on the choice of topics
Instructor evaluates student learning
Students evaluate their own learning; instructor also evaluates

Why is this model of education beneficial in today's educational climate?

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." - Benjamin Franklin
The lecture method of instruction utilized by traditional teacher-centered education ultimately trains students to take notes, and to repeat the substance of those lectures on an exam. This is the current model utilized most often in this era of standardized testing and little of the knowledge is retained in the long-run. In contrast, the learner-centered model truly involves students in their education. Direct engagement in realistic problems and teaches problem solving skills that go beyond the classroom. It also fosters creativity and teaming skills. Students can be their own best teacher.

Teaching and Learning