Effective teachers should be concerned about what content should students study and how this content will be presented to them. The types of curriculum organization used in most of the schools are based on two perspectives, subject-centered and student-centered. I would like to discuss with you today the differences between student-centered and subject-centered curriculum as they impact instructional planning.
The concept of the student-centered curriculum has its roots in the philosophies of Rousseau, Pestalozzi, and Froebel (Webb 2010). The student-centered curricula emphasizes the student’s freedom to learn, activities, and creative self-expression that engages the student in the learning process.
On the contrary, the subject-area curriculum, which is supported by essentialists and perennialists, proposes the return to fundamentals. The curriculum is composed of a group of subjects which presented through lectures and discussions. Rote memorization and recitation are required of students.
On the other hand, the student-centered curriculum emphasizes the students’ needs and interests by letting them use their creativity. The student-centered curriculum focuses on the individual learner by including a wide range of activities outside the classroom. The Progressives think that the student-centered curriculum encourages teachers to choose content which are suitable for their group of learners. This design involves more the teachers and it allows them to use their creativity.
However, Essentialists think that teachers who are faced to a student-centered curriculum will not concentrate on the subject-matter mastery. Essentialists, who support the subject-centered curriculum, are persuaded that this design reduces repetition or overlap between grade levels. The knowledge will be exposed to students in an orderly manner. Teachers will be able to methodically assess pupil’s progress. Essentialists think that student-centered curriculum is too broad and too permissive. They believe that textbooks are developed for subject-areas and they provide a solid organization to teachers.
But the student-centered designs explore the student’s own life or family history or local environment. The Progressives think that the traditional curriculum is fragmented and compartmentalized and that it fails in including the increasing number of English language learners.
John Dewey encouraged balance between the student-centered and subject-centered curriculum.
I believe that we should do the same. In curriculum planning and teaching, we should maintain a balance between the two curriculum designs. An effective teacher should adapt to the learning styles of students and considers student differences.
What do you think? parents, students, teachers...