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“Learner-Centered” from a Christian Perspective

I am in the middle of Maryellen Weimer’s “Learner-Centered Teaching,” and I am beginning to wonder how I will ever lecture again. Every so often, I read a book with life-changing potential, and I’m beginning to think this is one such book. The subtitle — Five Key Changes to Practice — is most appropriate.

Here is Weimer’s definition of learner-centered from the Preface:

Being learner-centered focuses attention squarely on learning; what the student is learning, how the student is learning, the conditions under which the student is learning, whether the student is retaining and applying the learning, and how current learning positions the student for future learning.

She distinguishes learner-centered from student-centered, which she says, “implies a focus on student needs” and “gives rise to the idea of education as a product, with the student as customer.”

I’ll get back with posts about some of Weimer’s ideas, but I’d like to address the idea of student-centered and learner-centered from a different perspective, a Christian perspective. What should our attitude be towards students/learners as Christian educators?

First and foremost, we should love our students. We should see each one as a child of God. It is easy to focus on the “good” student and dismiss the student who shows no motivation. We see these students as little as two or three times a week. It’s easy to forget about them as individuals. We need to remember that Jesus didn’t do this. He knew the worth of each person. It might be interesting to do a study of how Jesus interacted with each of his disciples as teacher to learners (note that I’m being careless with my use of the terms student and learner in a way that Weimer warned against; this is intentional).

Growing out of that love for students, a second point is that we should pray for our students. I’ve thought about this for some time but have never really followed through. It’s time to start. This might include systematic prayer for a specific set of students on a rotating basis each morning or evening. It might also mean praying for students who have made appointments to see me immediately before the appointment.

None of this really addresses the actual practice of teaching (or maybe it expands the definition of teaching to include loving and praying for our students). I don’t think there are any pedagogical techniques that are unique to Christianity, but it may be that some of the techniques out there could be adopted and informed by our faith. Certainly, our faith calls us to be the best teachers we can be. That, in fact, is one of the reasons I’m spending part of this summer examining the quality of my teaching and the methods I use.

So, as I work to improve my teaching, I should work to improve my attitude towards my students, as an educator and as a Christian.

6 Responses to ““Learner-Centered” from a Christian Perspective”

  1. EdWonk Says:

    How refreshing it is to read a post about how to be a better teacher. I think that as teachers, we should always maintain an open mind to new thoughts and ideas.

  2. Robert Says:

    I think any pedagogy that focuses primarily on students — their intellectual growth, their futures, their minds — is automatically better than one that isn’t, and is certainly more in tune with the life and teachings of Christ. I’ve just about lost all faith in lecturing as an effective aid to student learning for this very reason. Lecture is an efficient means of transmitting information, but that often has very little to do with learning. It took me about ten years of teaching to figure that out.

  3. brightMystery Says:

    Teaching like a Christian

    David over at Ticklish Ears is blogging his way through Maryellen Weimer’s Learner-Centered Teaching. He has some good thoughts today on the meaning of learner-centered teaching and how it all looks from a Christian perspective. I certainly sense a l…

  4. My Own Thoughts » Learner-Centered Christian Teaching Says:

    […] lor: #f93; }

    6/16/2005

    Learner-Centered Christian Teaching

    Ticklish Ears (great name for a blog) has a discussion of Maryellen Weimer’s Learner-Centered Teaching . It is a […]

  5. Mrs Ris Says:

    I only wish every teacher would dedicate some of the summer to the intentional, thoughtful examination of his/her teaching methods and their quality. So many of my peers are burnt out by June, that they plan NOT to think about school for as long as they can until August. I think they miss out on a wonderful opportunity for revival.
    Have you read To Know As We Are Known by Parker Palmer?The loving, Christ-centered connection of teacher to student is celebrated in this book: I loved it!!
    Enjoyed your blog. Will keep coming back!!

  6. My Own Thoughts » Learner-Centered Christian Teaching Says:

    […] Ticklish Ears (great name for a blog) has a discussion of Maryellen Weimer’s Learner-Centered Teaching. […]

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