The Nuts and Bolts of Student Centered Learning: Notable Insights

By Peter J.  Foley, Ed.D.  , editor-in-chief

In the last couple of weeks I  have  met two visiting , gifted educators here in Bangkok:  Arthur Eisenkraft, distinguished professor of education at the University of Massachusetts, and  Agnes Chavez, artist /educator and owner of the teaching publication company, Sube.  Both were main speakers at educational conferences in Thailand.

In Arthur’s article, which you can read in our current  edition of SCLThailand,  he proposes seven steps as essential in learning.  These steps are consistent with  current cognitive learning studies  and also form the core thinking of those of us who advocate student centered learning approaches in classrooms.

Two  essential steps that caught my eye were establishing what the learner  already knows and engaging the learning so that her interest is peaked.    Both Arthur  and Agnes have figured out how to engage learners.  Arthur  is a physicist by training, Agnes is an artist.   The brain loves a picture,  a structure to visualize.  Both Arthur  and Agnes give the learner a picture to work with as they approach a concept to learn or a problem to solve.

Agnes has had great success in teaching both English and Spanish to kids using art, music and games.  Her materials totally engage the students in the process of learning a language.  More information about Agnes can be found in the letters to editor section of SCLThailand this month.   Arthur’s lesson plan examples given in this month’s article show how he totally engages students in the pursuit of physics lessons.  The lesson plans are nothing short of brilliant.

Both these educators have learned the secret of how to engage the human mind:  give the student a picture, a vision, a design , a framework to build on.  Educators like to use the word scaffolding, which is as good a word as any for what both Arthur  and Agnes do con brio.