Student centered teaching relates to the educational philosophies of progressivism, social reconstructionism, and postmodernism. At their core, these philosophies believe in students as future agents of change, which is very different from the other three educational philosophies discussed, perennialism, behaviorism, and essentialism. In order to survive as a nation, we need students who can think critically about the world around them and feel compelled to change it for the better. In Speaking of Fourth Grade, Inda Schaenen talks about how now, more than ever, we need students who are agents of change, “Earth’s got problems. People have always been born problem solvers, but now we need to raise a proportionally greater number of people who will solve urgent problems relating to environmental science, engineering, and human behavior. At the very least, we have to start raising people who can comprehend and adapt to changed ecosystems on a hotter, harsher planet” (2014, p. 87). Student centered teaching creates connections between the content being learned and the world outside the classroom, it gives learning a higher purpose and asks students to think critically about creating solutions to the problems that they see in society. Students who see a purpose to what they are learning are more likely to become life long learners who can apply their skills to solving problems, and not just in the future, service projects can be done at the elementary school level as well as higher grades.
I plan to apply student centered teaching into my classroom in a variety of ways, by learning their autobiographies and creating culturally responsive curriculum. Having students share autobiographical narratives is the first step in creating culturally responsive curriculum, I intend to learn about student’s lives outside of school by asking them to create books with illustrations and information about their families and heritage. These books will remain a part of our classroom library so that students can make connections between their own lives and the lives of their classmates. I will create culturally responsive curriculum in response to the autobiographical narratives of my students, but also expose them to other cultures that may not be present at their school, every child deserves to learn about and celebrate their culture at school. This may mean covering events surrounding the Mexican-American War in greater depth than textbooks do (why do we “remember the Alamo” but forget Los Niños Héroes? ), or celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day by learning about native culture instead of Columbus Day. There are so many ways to incorporate students’ biographies into instruction while avoiding the tokenism of the past (Did you create your own “Indian name” when learning about westward expansion? I did in sixth grade.), but it depends on the individual makeup of the class.