Thursday, 31 January 2013

Student Centered Learning

3 Examples of Child Centered Learning I’ve Encountered….

1. Sugata’s TED TALK

This week I watched a TED talk by Sugata Mitra, that discussed how teachers and schools often do not exist in places they are needed the most. (Click here). He set up a number of experiments across the globe from New Delhi to Italy, where he gave students self-supervised access to computers.

I believe that the results of his studies are significant for us as teachers, and that they call into question two main things: the need for us as teachers to make our teaching meaningful; and to believe in our students and not have low expectations based on their background. If children have interest, then education happens. I think so often we underestimate our students and what they are capable of. I thought it was amazing in the video how children who had grown up in slums, and who had never had access to education, were able to self-teach themselves how to use computers. After only a short period of time they were recording their singing, and teaching each other how to browse the internet, using resources to convert languages to make information more accessible for them.

2. Article: Ethiopian Students

In relation to this video, I read another article this week that I think demonstrates much of the same points of Sugatas TED talk. (Click here). This article discussed how children in two Ethiopian villages were each given tablet computers. Within two weeks, children had taught themselves the ABC song and their numbers: none of these children had ever had access to education before. Wow!

Both the TED talk and the article I read really remind me just of how much we underestimate students and their abilities. One last thought comes to mind while considering these things....

3. Montessori School Inspiration

Last semester I had the opportunity to visit a Montessori school, visit some classrooms, and interview the principle, as well as a few teachers. Going in, I was very sceptical, but I think to an extent, Montessori schools have something that our school systems are sometimes missing: the need for child centered education. Montessori education allows students to be teachers of themselves, while the actual teacher is simply a guide and is available if there are any questions. Montessori schooling emphasizes active rather passive learning, increased student responsibility, and increased independence. It was such a neat experience to watch these students engage in activities quietly and independently. One student was on a computer working on adjectives and nouns, another grade two student was creating a prehistoric timeline, while a grade one student was writing a french report about the history of a croissant! I was amazed at the student's abilities, how invested they were, and how focused they were during their independent learning because it was something they were passionate about. This is what meaningful learning is about!

Children are like sponges: are we giving them opportunities for self growth and places to build their curiosity?

Example of children working independently at a Montessori School


  1. Thanks for your thoughts and resources. I too have been guilty in the past about the capabilities and abilities of my students. Generally, I believe that kids desire to learn and to figure things out. Sometimes the problem is the structure that institutions come with.

  2. Hey Rebecca!
    I really liked what you said about teachers needing to make their lessons meaningful. I think that sometime teachers can get too wrapped up in the curriculum, intended learning outcomes etc... that we tend to lose sight on what our students are taking away from the lesson. I know I sometimes have difficulty when trying to make lesson plans to find a balance between the curriculum and teaching something with significance and meaning that goes beyond the cognitive.