For teachers, it would seem self-evident that our students should be central to everything that we do, and it is the centrality of the student that is a recurring theme in the November issue of ETp.
For many of our contributors, this means giving the students some degree of choice in what they do and how they do it. Chris Roland, in our main feature, addresses the question of discipline by showing his teenage students that they actively make choices about how they behave in class and are, therefore, responsible for making the choices that will benefit them the most. Those readers who indicated in our recent survey that they would like more articles on classroom management with teenage students should find this article particularly interesting.
Samantha Russell sees choice as a means of empowering the students to take responsibility for their own learning. She believes that providing her students with relevant and meaningful choices gives them a sense of being in control of their lives and education, which is highly motivational.
Liam Bourret-Nyfeller uses gaming strategies to institute a motivational system of points and powers, enabling his students to choose activities that will gain bonus points which count towards their final grades, or which they can trade for rewards. Teachers who are familiar with the mechanics of gaming will doubtless be able to understand and explain this much better than I am!
Alan Beckerleg relates how a coursebook question about town planning was met with little enthusiasm until he made it personal for his students and gave them maps of the local area to redesign according to their own ideas and preferences. The activity then took off, with the students displaying great creativity and imagination in their reworking of their city. Alan’s practical and inventive idea could easily be used by teachers in almost any teaching context and I can see it providing the starting point for lively discussion with students of almost any age and level.
Chaz Pugliese believes that in the current educational climate we are in danger of overlooking the centrality of the student as a human being. He fears that learning for intrinsic satisfaction is being ousted by an over-emphasis on achievement and preparation for the workplace. He calls for a return to learning for its own sake, and the encouragement of risk-taking and exploration by students who are free to make their own choices – choices which are not dictated by the market. Where do you stand on this issue?
Don’t forget that you can comment on this – and any of the other articles in ETp – either by submitting a short Talkback feature (around 200 words) to be published in the magazine, or by making use of the comment facility at the end of the article on the website.