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Jay Cross helps people work and live smarter. Jay is the Johnny Appleseed of informal learning. He wrote the book on it. He was the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. He has challenged conventional wisdom about how adults learn since designing the first business degree program offered by the University of Phoenix.

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Carl Rogers


posted on
March 21st, 2010
comments
6 comments
category
Informl

Student-centered learning, that is, putting students first, is in stark contrast to existing establishment/teacher-centred lecturing and careerism. Student-centered learning is focused on the student’s needs, abilities, interests, and learning styles with the teacher as a facilitator of learning. This classroom teaching method acknowledges student voice as central to the learning experience for every learner. Teacher-centered learning has the teacher at its centre in an active role and students in a passive, receptive role. Student-centered learning requires students to be active, responsible participants in their own learning.

Traditionally, teachers direct the learning process and students assume a receptive role in their education. With the advent of progressive education in the 19th century, and the influence of psychologists, educators have largely replaced traditional curriculum approaches with “hands-on” activities and “group work”, which the child determines on his own what he wants to do in class. Key amongst these changes is the premise that students actively construct their own learning. Theorists like John Dewey, Jean Piaget, and Lev Vygotsky whose collective work focused on how students learn is primarily responsible for the move to student-centered learning. Carl Rogers’ ideas about the formation of the individual also contributed to student-centered learning. Student centered-learning means reversing the traditional teacher-centered understanding of the learning process and putting students at the centre of the learning process. Maria Montessori was also an influence in center-based learning, where preschool children learn through play.

From TIP

Example:

A person interested in becoming rich might seek out books or classes on ecomomics, investment, great financiers, banking, etc. Such an individual would perceive (and learn) any information provided on this subject in a much different fashion than a person who is assigned a reading or class.

Principles:

1. Significant learning takes place when the subject matter is relevant to the personal interests of the student

2. Learning which is threatening to the self (e.g., new attitudes or perspectives) are more easily assimilated when external threats are at a minimum

3. Learning proceeds faster when the threat to the self is low

4. Self-initiated learning is the most lasting and pervasive.

Also not in common with Freud is that Rogers’ theory is particularly simple — elegant even! The entire theory is built on a single “force of life” he calls the actualizing tendency. It can be defined as the built-in motivation present in every life-form to develop its potentials to the fullest extent possible. We’re not just talking about survival: Rogers believes that all creatures strive to make the very best of their existence. If they fail to do so, it is not for a lack of desire.

6comments

  • Jay Cross - March 21, 2010 at 8:36 am -

    Drat. I hit the Publish button before I intended to. This is an incomplete mash-up of Wikipedia, TIP, and other sources. It’s not a post; rather, it’s planning for a post.

  • Peter Isackson - March 22, 2010 at 2:08 am -

    Jay,
    Since you’re still planning the post, I’d suggest you develop further what I see as a key point: “This classroom teaching method acknowledges student voice as central to the learning experience for every learner.”

    In my experience even well-intentioned learner-centered methods often fail to realize how important developing the learner’s voice is. In many ways it’s the key to liberation, but if the facilitator doesn’t have an ear for “voice”, the effort may become vain. I’m being quite literal here. Work on voice, which includes and obviously reflects personal style, is fundamental. One’s degree of self-confidence is reflected in vocal control and creativity (control without creativity can easily become a vice). And while remaining ever mindful of Oscar Wilde’s dictum – “nothing worth knowing can be taught” – I would still maintain that things worth mastering (owning one’s voice) can be encouraged and that those who “lead out” (e-ducate) should be more focused on leading that resonant voice out of the learner’s fragile body and resonance chamber than simply supervising random expression.

    The traditional three Rs are remarkably passive and controlled. I vote for adding (and emphasizing) a fourth one: reading, writing, ‘rithmatic… and resonating!

  • Peter Isackson - March 22, 2010 at 2:11 am -

    Actually the misspelled “‘rithmatic” (should be -metic) reminds me that it could easily be replaced by “rhythmatics”, a key element of voice!

  • Jay Cross - March 26, 2010 at 10:01 pm -

    Peter, I am in your camp on this.

    The part of the post that didn’t make it because I push the Publish button to soon address Experiential Learning. In this case, the actions of the learner take precedence over the voice of the instructor. I’ll be back with more on that, because I believe that the passivity of schooling is a major reason it simply doesn’t work.

    I recall talking with Don Norman when I was trying to get my arms around the topic of informal learning. We talked about the ineffectiveness of classroom teaching and how it could be improved for an hour or two. Then Don said, yes, but it got you and me where we are.

    Yes, I’m glad my schooling let me earn a living. But I have to wonder where I’d be if schooling had supported my creativity instead of stomping it out. Something tells me Don and I would both be further along had we skirted schooling.

  • Peter Isackson - March 29, 2010 at 2:15 am -

    Jay,
    For many years I’ve been stressing the critical importance in any learning process of balancing input (valuable elements one receives from others) and output (essentially constructing a credible “voice” in the subject area). Traditionally the criterion applied to output focussed on the duplication of normative discourse, i.e. the ability to sound as if the teacher or some other recognized was speaking (or writing) instead of the learner. Pedagogic ventroliquism as the ideal! But the true measure of success in learning is clearly the acquisition of an authentic voice, a natural mastery of discourse, the ability to juggle creatively and intelligently with the issues, problems, questions, themes etc. of the subject. Which doesn’t mean always being right; making mistakes, taking risks and then adjusting are key parts of developing one’s voice. This presence of voice is something everyone spontaneously recognizes when the result is there, but traditional teaching approaches have done nothing to encourage it and much to discourage it!

    The reason may be that everyone’s voice – just like everyone’s background experience – is different, making it impossible to “assess” normatively the nature and quality of “knowledge”. And for several centuries at least teaching has been less about provoking learning than facilitating “assessment” (notice that the first half of that 10 letter word is…”asses”, reflecting the all too predictable result of the approach!).

  • Janet Calandra - April 1, 2010 at 11:39 am -

    I totally agree with self-centered leaning. I am an instructor at
    a junior college where I teach both reading comprehension and
    written communication. Even at the junior college level self initiated learning and group learning is the most effective way to
    teach. Bringing up-to-date relevant material into the classroom connects the students and holds their interest. When working in groups students experieince the thoughts and concerns of others.
    Conversations can become intense, which allows students the chance to express their views while leaning the opinions and concerns of their peers. It is the most effective way to engage junior college and college students; especially students attending night classes. This is the most effective way to teach skills, hold their interest, and create a classroom community of learners.

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