Week 2: Learner-centred teaching


10. The challenges of LCE

Some people think that the metaphor of a ‘barrier’ to LCE is unhelpful. It implies something unmoveable, which is outside the control of individuals. It is perhaps more helpful to realise that there are underlying reasons that make the implementation of LCE challenging. If these can be tackled, the barriers will disappear. For example, building teacher capacity through training, accessing free resources and teacher preparation which models LCE are all doable (and will be considered in Week 4). It is tempting with large classes, for example, to use the excuse that I as an individual teacher cannot do anything about the size of my class. But with training and support, it is possible to improve your teaching practice to cope more effectively with large classes.

We are not, by any means, suggesting that exams, inspection regimes, large classes and a lack of resources don’t make life difficult – they do – but political will is needed to change these. In the meantime, there are things that individual teachers can do to make progress along the continua, even if they don’t quite reach the right-hand side.

Example from practice

Denis attended a workshop. The participants were asked about the challenges that teachers face in developing active, participatory approaches to learning. The points made included:

  • Large classes
  • Lack of resources
  • The examination system
  • Lack of training

The presenter suggested that these are things which they cannot do anything about and that there is a danger that they become excuses for not acting. She reworded the challenges:

  • I need to develop my skills in teaching large classes.
  • I need to know how to make use of materials that I have available, and know how to find free resources on the internet.
  • I need to know how to help students revise effectively.
  • I need to know how to find free learning resources.

The new mindset helped the group to refocus and as they discussed how to address these challenges the importance of collaboration and mutual support become obvious.

Reflection point

Consider the example above. In your notebook write down some of the skills that you feel you need to develop and how you might set about finding the support you need.