From “Child-Centered Learning Has Let My Pupils Down” by Matthew Hunter, Standpoint Magazine
Nowadays, child-centred learning is an article of faith in the state sector. Whenever I question it at work I am met with bemusement at best, but usually righteous anger. Its principles pervade everything a new teacher hears about “best practice”: avoid chalk-and-talk; don’t point out a child’s mistakes (it will harm his self-esteem); never teach anything pupils may find boring; and never, on any account, organise the pupils’ desks in rows. Islands of desks where the pupils can “group learn” are dogmatically promoted.
The faults in this pedagogical outlook are normally obvious to those who have not been through the indoctrination of teacher training. By moving the onus of authority from the teacher to the child, we neglect our responsibility for teaching, which is to prepare a child for the adult world. If a child directs his own learning, his potential for advancing from the condition of childhood is unsurprisingly diminished.
As Keynes might well have written, practical teachers who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence are usually the slaves of some defunct educationist. The great tragedy of this process is that once released from the ivory tower and transferred to the classroom level, child-centred education becomes less a philosophy, and more an excuse for slack, ineffective teaching. If a teacher does not have a responsibility to direct the pupils’ learning, then this is a ready justification for the directionless, chaotic atmosphere in so many of our nation’s classrooms. On the ground, child-centred learning is an ideology of low expectations.
You can read the full article here.