Course taster

Learner centred education

In England, it was the 1944 Education Act that gave every child the right to a secondary education. At this point government actively avoided exercising more than a very loose direction over the curriculum. As George Tomlinson, Secretary of State for Education (1947-1951), famously put it: 'Minister knows nowt about curriculum.'' State control of education was recognised as a characteristic of totalitarian regimes. Professional autonomy over curriculum was therefore understood as part of the social contract underpinning the increase of state involvement in education from 1944. Despite or because of this autonomy, the curriculum tended to focus on traditional disciplines taught in traditional ways. Learning was central, but it could be argued that at this stage the child was not.

In 1968, the Plowden Report emphasised the more experiential aspects of learning and advocated for a curriculum that would enable this. The report noted that:

One of the most important responsibilities of teachers is to help children to see order and pattern in experience, and to extend their ideas by analogies and by the provision of suitable vocabulary. Rigid division of the curriculum into subjects tends to interrupt children's trains of thought and of interest and to hinder them from realising the common elements in problem solving. These are among the many reasons why some work, at least, should cut across subject divisions at all stages in the primary school.

Plowden (1967), para. 535, cited in Menter (2012)

The process model can be seen as an extension of some of the principles set out by Plowden (1967). It calls for a more learner-centred approach to education and requires a switch in role from teacher to facilitator.

Teaching Facilitating
Teaching starts from the teacher's own knowledge. Facilitators start by assessing the knowledge of the group.
Teaching follows a pre-set curriculum. Facilitators address issues identified by the group or their community and adopt new ideas based on the needs and culture of the group.
Teachers deliver sessions to a group of students – usually from the front of the room. Facilitators use practical, participatory methods (e.g. group discussions and activities) in which all members of the group participate.
Information flows in just one direction: from teacher to student. Information flows in many different directions between the facilitator and individual group members.
Teachers are concerned with students understanding the right answer. Facilitators encourage and value different views.
Teachers have formal relationships with students, based on the status of a teacher. Facilitators are considered as equals and develop relationships based on trust, respect and a desire to serve.