Saturday, December 3, 2011

Assignment #7 - Student Centric Education

When I hear my professor Jeff Heil said that our assignment was to think of creating a new school, I thought he was crazy! The idea of creating my own school initially created a bit of anxiety in me. The amount of pressure it takes to decided how an institute is run, what to content to focus on, not to mention how to meet all the needs of students, faculty, and parents makes my studying my current life problems look like kids stuff! With the amount of political pressure and restrictions I imagine that any teacher and/or administrator would not just take up creating their own school for a hobby.

Even though that reaction seemed to take an eternity, just a few seconds later when Jeff then added that the assignment should be based on a Student Centric school model, all my worries flew away. A student centric model is exactly what every child dreams about. A school where learning is engaging, individualized, and meaningful. Where teachers are mentors, not robots. Where classmates are teammates, not enemies. And where schools are the passageways, not prisons. Where understanding is connected to knowledge instead of standardized test scores.

For my student centric school, the most important aspect would be the access to technology. In my school there would be no costly textbooks, but students would have access to curriculum electronically. Although it seems that electronic curriculum would be expensive to develop, the ability to reproduce the information for free would reduce costs beyond belief. Also students can have the option of learning wherever and whenever they choose. Although I think teachers need to be present in the classroom as mentors, since students are driving their own learning the teacher should be available when students need them (aka some teachers can teacher in the evening when some students work best).

Where I struggle with my student centric school is how curriculum will be chosen and how teachers will be trained exactly. Although the curriculum should be chosen by the teachers and in part by the students, I think that in some way that there should be uniformity of what curriculums are chosen. Although I believe students should should be in charge of their learning, what they learn should not always be the choice. A young child will chose to only do what they like or what they can do but not necessarily what they need. A student needs good building blocks of reading, writing, and other subjects like science, math and history. I also think that students need introductions to the arts such as physical education, visual art, music, and technology. I think students will guide there way through these subject but I think that these subjects need to be included in EVERY child's eduction.

Regarding teacher training, I think that the model would suggest that teachers teach each other. My problem is where does that start? Just because I'm a math teacher and if I work with a new teacher looking to teach math, how will I know if I am teaching him/her everything they will need to be a valuable teacher? Will there be guidelines or a syllabus for training? If so who designs it? [It should obviously be teacher but where do we choose the teachers and how many?].

So in the end I think I would like to work in a student centric classroom. My philosophy for teaching is having students learn through self discovery and I think the student centric model correlates with that philosophy. I would like to work with people who are passionate to learn and teach and I think it would be wonderful to see students engaged in not just learning but also teaching their peers. Although I am unsure of a few parts of my own student centric school I think the choices that will be used to make it student driven will make me want to work there.

Just thought you like to know!

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