Teacher-centred model is defunct

10th September 2004 at 01:00
Tim and Harry Brighouse - both deeply entrenched in our existing educational chaos - argue the pros and cons of our existing system, rather than stepping beyond the limiting nature of teacher-centred classrooms ("Can comprehensives really work?", TES, August 27).

Father (Tim) comes across as the melancholy idealist, his son as the detached realist seated in his academic university greenhouse. I wonder what sort of schools his children attend?

Of course in any school designed on our classroom model of x kids and one teacher in a little box, the success of the teacher's ability to teach and the students' ability to receive the teaching will depend upon the composition of the students in that classroom.

In this mdoel, the teacher must cast the level of the lessons to reflect the students' overall ability.

It is for this reason that parents pay to get their children into classrooms that have the greatest student similarity. It is in such classrooms that a teacher can produce the best-educated students. Grammar schools and schools in expensive residential areas and private schools all demonstrate the advantages of this.

In a comprehensive classroom where, say, 10 of the 30 students can't read at the expected level, the teacher will be thwarted in teaching the 20 who are good readers.

No, Messrs Brighouse, the real challenge is to replace our classroom system with a student-centred system where each individual student is treated as a customer of learning.

Then parents won't have to seek out the "better" schools because their child's individual talents and needs will be fully accommodated rather than being stuck into a classroom with 29 others.

I can happily provide a practical description of a student-centred school which may replace all the schools to which the Brighouses refer.

Classrooms are the socio-economic equivalent of cottage industries. The educational equivalent of the Industrial Revolution has not yet occurred.

IT can be the "power supply" to facilitate the leap forward, but it cannot occur in our cottage-like classooms.

Karl Jaeger

Founderdirector of the International School of America 7 Lansdown Crescent


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