The Pros and Cons of a Student-centered Classroom
By: Emi Lockrow
What does it mean to be self-directed? Being self-directed means being able to take the reigns of your life in your own hands, shifting and moving your level of productivity and moving forward depending on your own will. You may think that if students take leadership of their education may become careless and chaotic, but studies from the PNAS journals have shown that in workplaces, people with more control over their jobs have lower levels of stress compared to jobs with limited access to personal control over their work. I believe that with less stress, students will be more productive. Sadly, there are also cons to this newfound freedom along with the many pros. Yet, despite the risks, the positive results should outweigh them in the end.
Being able to be more productive may seem like the only benefit, however, teaching students how to organize their life and manage time is an important life-skill many will need when they reach adulthood. Many students are also very dependent on their parents and teachers to tell them what to do, so having them to plan and organize on their own, helps them to develop their individuality, preparing them for the future. However there will also be students who do not want to learn or to take control, and they may slack off. However, in life, you cannot force someone to do something, and even in a teacher-led classroom, those students will slack off either way. “There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it (Sinek 18)." In Addition, students can easily become confused with the topic or project they are working on because if it is a free and student-led classroom structures. Issues such as these can easily be solved with proper communication between both parties.
Actually, many students do not slack off or take advantage of the freedom. For example, in Mr. Pangier's class, many students evenly pace themselves throughout each submission window, and they notice when they are not moving fast enough to reach the deadlines. Many students are self-disciplined and mature for their age as well. Having this system also helps students with any group work. It may not seem like it because this class style is very free and open, however, when doing projects or language assignments, students team up with people who are working on similar assignments so that they can compare notes and ideas. This co-dependent relationship helps to motivate each other. Since they can bounce ideas off of each other and work together, they both become influenced and motivated by each other.
“Leadership is the ability to rally people not for a single event, but for years (Sinek 30) .” Or in this case, the ability to stay motivated not for a single project, but for semesters to come. As mentioned above, students also have to ask for assignments and for details meaning they have to confer with the teacher. This helps the students to design a unique assignment for themselves so they can have an excellent idea for the project. If this was a teacher directed class, students would not have as many chances to move and elaborate on projects to fit their own needs. Nevertheless, in a teacher led classroom, there would be less confusion between parties since everyone would have the same assignment to complete. “The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen (Sinek 109).” To rephrase that, the role of a teacher is not to come up with great projects. The role of a teacher is to create an environment in which great projects can be created. Having a classroom environment that promotes open cooperation and freedom will help students improve their communication skills for the future.
Even with the negative possibilities that can come with this freedom, many students have the potential to take control of it and to use it for their own personal growth. In the end, students will be able to produce higher-quality work, have less stress, and develop the skills they need to survive in the adult led world. They will be able to take the reins of their education in their own hands and grow into more socially and personally capable people. Just like my middle school class that are only beta testing this type of education system, imagine what could happen when a more and more students use this system once it is fully developed.
While working on making this project exemplary, I faced difficulties such as not knowing where to add and subtract or how to better construct my sentences. I did lots of discussing with peers to gain feedback and a good start to editing my work. This is one of the few times where you are forced to go back on your work that you are proud of to refine it, so this BDC helped me to work on my editing skills and to grow myself as a writer
Over the course of writing this essay, I feel that I've gained a better understanding on how to be more self directed myself, and how to grow. The reading I have done before hand helped me to better understand the concept of leadership and self direction. Especially quotes such as "There are only two ways to influence human behavior, to inspire or to manipulate it"(Sinek 18). Apart from this essay, reading the book helped me to better understand what true leadership is and how I can use it to my advantage. While writing, I felt myself be able to write more fluidly and a wider variety of words than I usually have.
I feel that this essay helped me grow more as a writer and to grow my mental perception on this type of class structure. At the beginning of the year I felt very confused and lost because of how new this was but after a while of adjusting and adapting, I found that it promotes a very fundamental skill that many people should no , self directed-ness.