“The kid in the back wants me todefine ‘logic.’ The girl next to him looks bewildered. The boy in front of medutifully takes notes even though he has severe auditory processing issues anddoesn’t understand a word I’m saying. Eight kids forgot their essays, but onehas a good excuse because she had another epileptic seizure last night. Theshy, quiet girl next to me hasn’t done homework for weeks, ever since she wasjumped by a knife-wielding gangbanger as she walked to school. The boy next toher is asleep with his head on the desk because he works nights at a factory tosupport his family. Across the room, a girl weeps quietly for reasons I’llnever know.”
Noteacher, no matter how extraordinary, could be expected to provide an optimaleducation in such an environment. Here we have crossed over into a new area ofchallenge for student-centered thinking. For some students, it will beincumbent on the adults in charge – parents, teachers, and others – to makesome critical decisions and to direct the student toward a successfuleducational experience.
Theresponsibility of the adults in these cases is great. An emotionally vulnerablechild may not be a reliable source for determining his own best interests. Leftto her own devices a traumatized or unstable child may make many unhealthy anddangerous choices. There comes a time in most children’s lives, but more so inthose with emotional challenges, where the adults need to step in and providethe structure and safety a child will need in order to overcome unfortunatecircumstances.
There isa point of paradox in on our continuum of educational formats where in order tobe student-centered we may need to impose structures and limits that the childhimself would not choose. To be student-centered in education does not mean toabdicate adult responsibility.