Another dot in the blogosphere?

How learner-centred are you?

Posted on: August 21, 2014

This tweet reminded me that there is the giving of feedback and there is the acting on it. Merely giving feedback is not going to change behaviour or cause learning.

This is similar to something I tell instructors: Teaching is not the same as learning. You may teach, but that does not mean anyone has learnt anything. You may test and there might be short term results from it, but that does not necessarily lead to meaningful learning.

This might seem obvious to most, but given the busy work of teaching, grading, and chasing the curriculum, it easy to forget that going through the motions of teaching does not guarantee learning.

I have spent most of my working life as an instructor of some sort. A significant portion of it was as a teacher educator in NIE where my colleagues and I prepared teachers. But I wonder how much we focused on teachers being learners all the time.

By this I mean understanding the learner and what they struggle with. In the context of receiving feedback, this could mean knowing how to help them take action.

That the tweet echoed like a lonely voice in the desert and that some will read the tweet and nod in agreement is recognition that most teachers still focus on their teaching and not enough on their students’ learning.

Most teachers in Singapore know the differences in behaviours that are teacher-centred and learner-centred. Being pragmatic, they also know when to toggle between the two modes.

But there should only be one mode and that is being learner-centred. All the time.

If you are learner-centred, you will realize that it is not enough to mark up an assignment with feedback. The assignment must be important to the learner, the feedback must be timely, the feedback might come from other learners as well, the learner must know what to with the feedback, and there must be evidence of learning.

If a teacher is learner-centred, then flipping is not the flipping of instruction but the flipping of roles (who the teacher is, who the content creator is). Game-based learning, project-based learning, and other x-based learning are not just pedagogical strategies but also philosophical orientations on what it means to be a learner and how we learn.

There should only be one mode and that is being learner-centred. Anything else is a compromise or an excuse. The only question left is: How learner-centred are you?

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