In my last article I showed you how education that puts the individual receiving that education at the heart of the process, has been around for many years - in my early years of teaching in the primary sector, child-centred teaching was expected, following the publication of a report from a committee chaired by Lady Plowden. At that time, many of the 'die-hard' traditionalist teachers were horrified at such a thing, believing that it meant we had to just leave the children to find out for themselves when they didn't have the necessary skills to do so. Later, after years of political debate and a lot of huffing and puffing about 'discovery' learning and 'progressive leftie teaching' lowering standards, this excellent form of teaching was dropped in favour of testing, National Curriculum and league tables, with pupils funnelled through a diet of academia that so many were not suited to, and the government trying to increase the numbers going on to further education. In my view this was to deflect a looming unemployment crisis by deferring the time young people would be added to the list! But then I'm cynical!
What was not understood by the layman outside the teaching profession, and the 'traditionalist' teachers inside the profession, was that child-centred learning was equally as structured, if not more so, than the traditional 'tchalk and talk' method (tell 'em enough times and they'll get it!). When the child/client is put at the centre of the learning, there is the need for the teacher to be very well organised, able to target their teaching with ready resources to cater for every learning style. To recognise each learning style, and understand the needs, and indeed the problems each individual brings to the learning, the teacher has to have very high level listening skills in order to utilise knowledge that is familiar to the learner which will help to guide them to the new knowledge. To achieve all of this, the teacher needs to have the skills to lead the learner through a structured process that guides them to 'discover' for themselves! Structured CCL!
So, all the structure you have used thus far with your learners must be maintained, by means of guiding the learner's thought processes towards the skills needed to achieve whatever goal they may have set for themselves. For example, the learner who says they want to drive on the dual carriageway when they've barely started the learning process, needs to have that goal acknowledged, but now comes your structure because, for the learner to reach that point, they need to have vehicle handling skills and knowledge of how to keep safe when surrounded by fast moving traffic, as well as skills for entering and leaving the D/C. Your questioning technique now needs to lead them to decide for themselves what they need to learn first: they identify the skills necessary, you set targets together for achieving each skill, then you set your target for driving on the dual carriageway. Hey Presto, your learner has a structured approach to reaching their goal, a structure that they have identified and agreed to. And they have a series of 'stepping-stone' targets to help them reach their goal.