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Placing the Student at the Centre: Student-Centred Learning


Student Centered LearningRecently, I was invited to be a panellist on the XSEED School of Tomorrow Conference in Mumbai, where the topic I was expected to comment on was: “Better Resources or Improved Methods: What Matters Most for School Quality?”. The panel comprised some eminent members – the Director of a Stenier school, CEO of an educational NGO and an educational consultant who also happens to be a theatre personality and writer. The panel discussion was moderated by an ex-Managing Editor of India Today. Some of the interesting points that came up:

  • Firstly, what is this quality that we talk about? How do we define quality in education – is it about more marks, or better learning? The panellists and audience were pretty unanimous in their opinion that ‘quality’ could be equated to ‘student-centred education’, where the student is really at the centre of the learning process and the teachers strives to meet his needs rather than simply complete the syllabus on time.
  • Once we have established that student-centred learning is what we are seeking to attain, how do we actually go about achieving it – through better resources like infrastructure and better teachers, or improved methods such as tools, assessment criteria, etc? The consensus seemed to be that one without the other is of no use. While the curriculum that the student follows is important, what is even more critical is the way in which that curriculum is delivered to the students – and delivery of the curriculum needs to be perfected from all angles: through teachers who are appropriately trained and supported with relevant and up-to-date teaching aids, as well as through learning tools that help students understand concepts rather than just memorise facts and assessment tools that determine how well a student has learned and not how much.
  • And finally – who is reponsible for this kind of change? Is it the government, the schools and teachers, or each and every stakeholder in the child’s educational journey? For parents and the community have as critical a role to play in crystallising expectations and translating these into action, as does the educational community.

You will notice that while I have touched briefly upon the points we discussed during the panel, I have not really delved into them as much as I would have liked to. Co-incidentally enough our cover story of the next issue happens to be on student-centred learning. And you will see all these arguments and more, including creating a framework for student-centred learning, detailed there. It would be great to see some responses to this blog now on what student-centred learning means to you and how it can be achieved, ideas that you will then perhaps reiterate, revisit or even refute once you read our cover story!

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Kritika Srinivasan is an Editor at ParentEdge. She has her hands full with an active young child and her writing. She is keenly interested in ways to engage and stimulate children to keep their lively and intelligent minds busy.


3 thoughts on “Placing the Student at the Centre: Student-Centred Learning

  1. Pallavi Katti

    I agree that quality of education is of utmost importance and can be achieved by making the entire experience of learning student centric.

    However, on one section of population, would be responsible for all this. It has to be supported and nurtured by parents, schools, govt agencies like the education boards, and by the students too.This model of education can be very effective if we have teachers who are equally motivated. Not many of us have even thought of teaching as a profession. And many times I wonder(including myself ), why? I really salute those who are in this profession and relentlessly working towards making a difference in students life.

    Our children spend most of their waking hours with their teachers who majorly influence on how and what they learn. The way we (employed in IT sector) look for motivation at work , all of us also need to see how motivated are the teachers who are shaping our kids. Motivation would have to come in forms of good salaries, work conditions, the facilities school provides them, training, freedom in choosing the format that they have to adopt for teaching / sharing knowledge etc.

    The way we need student centric education we also need a system which is centered around our teachers making them more able to concentrate on our kids.

    1. Bolt

      I understand the debate around e-learning. I think first and foremost, one must be disciplined to fully take advantage of e-learning. I also recommend that those who decide to use e-learning as a platform become familiar with social networking tools and udrtnseand how to build an online community for support to help replace the face-to-face interaction. It makes sense as we try to catch up with 21st Century Learning.

  2. Aparajita Bose

    In our country we might be expecting too much if we emphasize on more teaching aids. To give an example, my Nursery-going daughter talks mostly about what she has learnt in school through Educomp, all because she gets to see rightaway what the teacher had been talking about! Looks like such aids really help the children to learn faster. But, can a developing nation like ours actually afford to spend so much on education? Can all parents contribute that extra amount to the already-high school fees for such aids to become part of education? I wonder!
    A different example – Recently my son, studying in Std 4, asked me why during addition of fractions, only numerators are added, not denominators too. Being a stay-at-home mom on 24×7 duty, I had the time to think and then draw out pictures of cakes to show that when we added both numerators and denominators too, we were changing the ‘whole’ we had begun with, which is wrong. His teacher knew it, but, always hard-pressed like all teachers today, didn’t really have the time to go into the details to answer the ‘why’, telling him to learn the ‘way it’s done’.
    In this particular case, I’ll say, handouts with pictures for supporting a method of doing things could be kept ready for all such mathematics lessons for the students to delve into at home – something the teachers could do before a session began, not to get more added to an already huge workload. Through this I wanted to say that basics are a must and touching on the ‘why’s of things is as important as knowing the ‘how’ of things, wherever applicable. Only when everybody involved – parents, teachers, schools, and hence students too – realize this, can there be a positive step towards student-centred learning. This would also make learning a joyful experience! The other long-term benefit here would be learning a concept permanently. But with too much time spent on gathering facts and memorising them (too much GK, say), there obviously would be too less time to dwell on basics to be thoroughly clear with concepts. But are we ALL ready for this change in the way we look at learning?
    I do see a good change in which CBSE Maths books today have come out, but much more is needed in the Science books, where the chapter could start with an inquiry-based approach (to make the children think before the concept is served to them) and move onto the facts etc. So you see, even how books are laid out, is very important for student-centric learning, to make learning a pleasure as well as to raise ‘thinking’ children!

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