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A critical element of a student-centered approach is a keen sense of context and boundaries. We observe that there is more to a child than his or her identity as a student. The whole of what is learned is much greater than what is taught, what is tested, what is addressed in curriculum, and what may be in any teacher’s plan book.
The Whole Child Initiative
The Whole Child Initiative (ASCD) takes this notion seriously and recommends to schools that education should be about nurturing the growth of the learner as a complete individual, not just as a vessel for curriculum.
Here are some of the tenets of a Whole Child, as put forth by ASCD:
- Each student enters school healthy and learns about and practices a healthy lifestyle.
- Each student learns in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for students and adults.
- Each student is actively engaged in learning and is connected to the school and broader community.
- Each student has access to personalized learning and is supported by qualified, caring adults.
- Each student is challenged academically and prepared for success in college or further study and for employment and participation in a global environment.
These ideas align in a positive way with what we mean by student-centered.
Questions for Educators
The idea of the whole child does bring up some interesting questions for educators:
- Are educators responsible for the development of the “whole learner”?
- Are we not limited in the scope of our teaching by the inevitable and appropriate boundaries of our role in the lives of our students?
The realization that our context is circumscribed is critical to our understanding of our students and the nature of what we offer them. As educators we each have a role to play in our students’ education, and we do our best work when we understand these roles. We recognize our students as whole beyond our classrooms while appreciating both the value of the knowledge we offer them, and its limitations. Among other things, this means collaborating effectively with colleagues and, most importantly, with our students’ parents.
Photo by: wwworks
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