In recent years, there’s a been a shift from a traditional approach to instruction—one which relies on teachers talking and students working independently on individual assignments—to a new way of thinking. Learner-centered curricula are the way of the future, and All Saints’ Episcopal Day School is leading this endeavor with ground-breaking teaching approaches that take the focus of the activities from the teachers to the learners.
A learner-centered curriculum is comprised of three main elements:
- Active learning. Here, students learn to solve problems, answer questions, and formulate questions of their own. This helps them be able to discuss, explain, debate, and brainstorm during in-class discussions.
- Cooperative learning. In this setup, students work in teams to solve problems and accomplish goals. This helps create an environment in which students are both experiencing positive interdependence, as well as individual accountability.
- Inductive teaching and learning. With learner-centered curricula, students are first presented with obstacles. Inductive methods then introduce inquiry-based learning, instruction that’s provided on a case-by-case basis, discovery, and just-in-time teaching.
Not every academic establishment is set up for success in terms of learner-centered curricula. Teachers have to be trained to understand that achieving the goal of learning in this way must involve the participants (students) in ways that engage them and provide value of the process.
How Student-Centered Classrooms Work
In a learner-centered classroom, students are involved in the planning, implementation, and assessment of challenges. Because they’re involved in the process, they learn to make decisions, work with others, and have personal accountability for their actions. At All Saints’ Episcopal Day School, we believe in saying to our students, “Based on your needs, I’d like to work with you to develop a plan for your education and help you implement it.”
Benefits of Learner-Based Curriculum
Now that you understand a little bit more about what a learner-based curriculum is, let’s talk about why it’s important to explore this option for your own child’s education.
1. Labor Markets Need Problem Solvers
Learner-centered schools empower kids to own their learning paths by focusing on how the knowledge they’re gaining can solve problems or add value to a situation. Starting this from a young age will encourage little learners to grow into adults who inherently look for ways to solve problems and get to creative solutions.
In this teaching model, students don’t sit around and passively wait for their teachers to give them answers; instead, they’re encouraged to go seek and discover opportunities for learning. This often requires a collaboration with other students who may have different skills or insights—a vital skill that will be essential later in life.
2. Learner-Centered Curricula Encourages Diversity
As noted, different students will have different backgrounds and perspectives. This model teaches students from a young age that it’s not only okay for people to be different, but that it’s something they should lean into when they’re trying to solve problems.
Beyond this, teamwork is essential in the process. Students must learn to discuss issues, work with others, and collaborate if they want to come up with a solution. This is a difficult skill for some people to learn as adults, but when introduced during childhood, the results are astounding.
3. Students are Involved in Decision-Making
It’s easy for kids to check out when they’re being talked at. Learners, especially at a young age, need to be engaged with their schooling. When students are involved in the decision-making process, they’ll find relevance in the curriculum that’s being presented to them. This, in turn, will increase engagement and generate excitement around the learning process.
4. Learner-Based Curricula Improves Retention of Knowledge
Learner-centered approaches place a high emphasis on relevance and engagement; these greatly impact the level of retention students experience in the learning environment. When the information is more relevant to their interests and day-to-day activities, they’re more likely to retain and gain the knowledge teachers are providing them.
5. Learner-Centric Models are More Fun
Often, learner-centric teaching involves the use of games and stories, rather than lectures and slide decks. Generally, students are given options to choose from, allowing them to explore topics of interest that they find fun or entertaining.
6. Learner-Centered Curricula Facilitate Personalized Learning
Just as every human is unique, so, too, is their learning style. All students do not have the same learning needs. Some might understand basic concepts when they’re simply explained by a teacher, while others might need to really dig in and get their hands dirty before they have an epiphany.
Traditional teaching models have a hard time taking this factor into account, often teaching to classrooms of 20 or 30 individuals in one standard format. With learner-centered curricula, teachers work to accommodate each students’ needs, allowing for individual personal growth and discovery amidst collaboration with others.
Visit All Saints’ Episcopal Day School
If you’re intrigued by the idea of a learner-centered curriculum, we’d love to introduce you to some of our teachers! We invite you to take a virtual visit of our campus
so you can get to know a little more about us!