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Learning to teach: making sense of learning to teach
Learning to teach: making sense of learning to teach

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1.5 Student teacher-centred approach

The ‘student teacher-centred approach’ asks students, mentors and tutors to critically engage with issues that arise and find solutions through a process of exploration and critical reflection. In this way student teachers don’t just emulate existing practice but will take more personal responsibility to adapt, question, challenge and experiment with a range of different solutions and techniques. In this way the learning cannot be controlled in the same way as in a transmission model as it is difficult to predict learning outcomes too specifically, or that each student teacher (or young person) will experience exactly the same, or make the same meanings and connections as others in the same context.

Therefore the challenging aspects of this approach include:

  • Time – A questioning, critical approach takes a lot of discussion, research and time for experimenting. It requires a high level of skill from teacher-educators to accommodate the level of individualisation that results.
  • Amount of information – In order to adopt a critical approach, student teachers need to draw on a range of opinions from mentors, tutors, their own practice and the literature. This can be overwhelming, although developing critical reflection can help student teachers learn from their experiences (see Learning to teach: Becoming a reflective practitioner [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ).
  • Proactive learners – Student teachers have to be proactive in taking charge of their own learning. This involves the student teacher being aware of their own learning process (metacognitive awareness) including their assumptions, values and beliefs, which may impact on their reactions to situations. It involves them recognising the individualistic nature of learning and how their active approach to researching, meaning making and exploration are fundamental to their development.

The arguments for this approach are that they take full account of individual needs. It supports student teachers to be co-creators of their own knowledge, finding solutions that work for them and developing the skills to be flexible and adaptable to different contexts and approaches.

Reflection point

Think about situations in which you have experienced a transition mode of teaching and a more learner centred approach.

  • What were your experiences and reactions as a learner to these different situations?
  • What do you feel you gained from each?
  • What were the drawbacks?

Having explored the different paradigms that can be argued underpin ITE courses, the different way knowledge is perceived and the different expectations of how student teachers should learn, it is not surprising that this has resulted in a plethora of different routes into teaching in the UK. The next section will consider these differences in relation to the previous discussion.