The original and fundamental assumption behind this approach was that parents and teacher’s control children’s behaviour and this can have a very negative effect on child development. There is a long tradition in psychology that supports this type of classroom approach. A student centred approach intends to encourage independence and to allow children to choose their own behaviour.
in a student centered classroom the teacher:
- allows the sharing of decision making and control of the class
- allows personal and group initiatives
- delegates the responsibility for behaviour to the learners
- encourages active participation towards the fulfillment of mutual goals
understanding the nature of the problem is central to this approach:
- identify the source of the problem
- the teacher should be listening to what may be the underlying “problem/message” and not what appears to be the problem
- encourage learners to speak openly
- allow learners to change behaviour rather than reinforcing accusations
- language development, thoughts, feelings, age, and reasoning ability, may restrict the teacher’s use of logical argument
this approach implies ‘active listening':
- silence is golden and poowerful
- listening shows willingness to help and accept. It is a powerful tool
- prompt learners to express themselves
- and then actively listen
- afterwards, respond
- look for ‘door openers’
- help to enlighten ’cause and effect’
Prerequisites of student centered teacher:
- trusts the learners’ ability to solve their own problems
- genuinely accept students’ feelings
- is with the students – shows warmth, compassion, feeling
- encourages openness of feelings, emotions – is not be afraid of emotions
- promotes privacy and confidentiality – builds trust and respect – eliminates gossip
a student centered teacher
- mirrors student by feedback: clarifies; promotes inquiry, discussion and questioning,
- allows learners to explore their feelings
- allows learners freedom to think for themselves and provides minimal evaluative feedback.
- do not judge, tell, probe or use lecturing style techniques.
The intended outcomes of the student centred approach:
- promotes willingness to listen
- promotes a greater sense of self-worth
- creates more meaningful relationships between people
- the teacher displays a caring attitude
- discipline problems decrease significantly as relationships develop
The goals of discipline:
- Because learners have more opportunity to decide how to learn individually, there should be a tendency to have less behavioural management problems.
- Boredom and failure, two of the main causes of behavioural problems, are virtually eliminated.
- The teacher is cast as a facilitator of learning, not a dictator of information. One who is seen as a reference, a guide, a source, and a guide to the growth and development of the intellectual child.
Using this method, traditional punishment and extrinsic reward discipline is largely diminished. Three proponents of the student centred approach are: Thomas Gordon, Abraham Maslow, Steven Krashen and Carl Rogers. In the TEFL world look at Rinvolucri, Chris Sion, Wajnryb, Paul Davis and A. Underhill.