However, let's do the needful and start with a bit of solid theory, shall we? I mean, what trendy Tefler worth his Celta could possibly disagree with the following?
"Student-centred learning is an approach to education that focuses exclusively on the student's needs, abilities, interests, and learning styles, rather than those of others involved in the educational process, such as teachers and administrators. This process of putting students first views the teacher as a facilitator of learning, and is in stark contrast to existing establishment/teacher-centred lecturing and careerism, which has the teacher at its centre in an active role and students in a passive, receptive role."
So, the students get to make all the decisions and do all the graft - not bad, eh? This approach, of course, relieves us teachers of most of our tedious traditional pedagogical roles and duties, and means we can spend more time in the pub or the betting shop. A typical student-centred classroom would include the following shenanigans...
- The students set their own objectives. These could be meaningful, authentic problems which serve to further their understandings of the subject matter and themselves; or just something simple like colouring-in the empty bits on page 94 of Headache Intermediate.
- Students complete their own activities, designed by themselves to achieve goals determined by themselves. The teacher sits in the staff-room smoking roll-ups, drinking tea and reading Viz all day, but is available for 'consultation' the whole time.
- Students can happily ignore any directions and step by step instructions from the teacher as they progress through their activities. In fact, they'd be lucky to find the teacher in the class at all if I had my way here.
- Students are motivated by intrinsic factors such as the desire to learn, succeed, impress their colleagues, shag that horny Brazilian bit, etc. Those students who do not already possess the full range of intrinsic motivators can purchase them at a discounted price from the teacher.
- Students can work in groups determined by themselves, or alone. Or perhaps not even at all? Maybe they'd rather stay in bed - group-sex or working in pairs, according to their self-defined objectives. It's a real shame the poor old teacher gets excluded here!
- Student work is evaluated solely by the other students, and any differences in opinion are settled by a punch-up in the classroom (preferably without you, dear teacher, unless you're happy to be sued and lose your job).
So, do you think you have what it takes to be a modern student-centred EFL teacher? Are you happy to be an over-educated doormat? Could you feel comfortable being relegated to the status of a mere collaborator in the process of learning - maybe just doing the photocopying and bringing in the sandwiches? Would you feel unconcerned if your students told you to bugger off while they tried to successfully set up a student-centred classroom?
No, I thought not.
Coming Next: You're (not) Talking Out Yer Arse #2 – The Silent Way