Yesterday I related my take on teacher-centered vs. student-centered learning. While this dichotomy makes labeling easy, it’s not necessarily helpful. Even though they seem to be two sides of the same coin – they are still the same coin: education. The idea is to use teacher expertise differently – not for just content shoveling. Teachers should be making the learning environment decisions – activities, assessments, etc.
So, should we be changing our schools and the way we educate? YES! Our 20th Century model is built on the idea of a finite end product. When a student finishes high school under this model he/she should know a finite content. Just like the finished a car – it is a known product. Needless to say, this worked great when we need an army of assembly line workers. Again, their jobs involve(d) production of finite, definable objects. Those jobs are not the norm now. There are a new set of skills, a new knowledge base that is needed to be successful in today’s world … and in the future. Don’t we owe it to our students (K-12 and college) to change our pedgogy to match their needs – say, project-based learning, or process-based learning.
But if we shift the focus to learning processes and transferable skills it is much harder to measure the final product. How do you measure the ability to teach yourself? How do you quantify the skill of learning? We’ve had the heart of our profession stripped away by the overindulgence of standardized testing – where does the art of teaching fit in?