27 mars 2012

Child-centered schooling

   Also formulated as "student-centered schooling," to include the later grades. The phrase is a self-description of progressive education, as in Rugg's The Child-Centered School (1928). The idea is epitomized in the injunction "Teach the child, not the subject" (which see).

   The opposition between child-centered and subject-centered education implies that teaching which focuses on subject matter tends to ignore the feelings, interests, and individuality of the child. Progressivists describe subject-centered instruction as consisting of lecture format, passive listening, mindless drill, and rote learning, and as directed to purely academic problems that have no intrinsic interest for children. The opposition between subject and child implies that focusing on subject matter is equivalent to inhumane and ineffective schooling.

   This picture is mere caricature. Observation has shown, on the contrary, that children are more interested by good subject-matter teaching than by an affectively oriented, child-centered classroom. The anti-subject-matter position is essentially anti-intellectual
    The dichotomy between subject and child has too often resulted in failure to teach children the subjects and the skills they need. Such failure cannot under any principled use of language be described as "child-centered."

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This was an excerpt from Hirsch's great book on education :
The Schools We Need 
 and Why We Don't Have Them.
Recension by Richard Askey :  

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