From standardized to student-centered

In the industrial age when traditional education was designed, standardization was all the rage. Basically, people designed schools like they designed factories: they focused on consistent, efficient processes for consistent, efficient learning. Today, our schools have a degree of diversity that those designers could not have imagined. And today we know far, far more about about the many different ways that the brain works and that learning can happen. To shift from traditional to modern education we have to stop thinking about getting kids to fit into our learning structures and start thinking about getting our learning structures to work for students. For each and every student. How might you think about what it means to be student centered? This framework might help.

  • Learning is personalized. Learning experiences are meaningful to students — highly engaging and highly motivating. Students don’t all get the same thing because they don’t need the same things. Each student has access to the right supports at the right time.
  • Learning is student-owned. Students learn to take responsibility for their learning. They learn how to learn. They have opportunities for voice and choice to engage in learning that matters to them, to direct how they learn and demonstrate learning, and to be active in their learning.
  • Learning is anywhere, anytime. Students can access learning beyond the classroom, whether through technology tools or in community.
  • Learning is competency-based. Student success includes lifelong, transferable knowledge and skills. Students receive support to ensure progress. Students advance when they have demonstrated their learning.

Questions to Consider:

  • To what extent is learning personalized in your school or district?
  • To what extent is learning student-owned in your school or district?
  • To what extent is learning accessible anywhere, anytime in your school or district?
  • To what extent is learning competency-based in your school or district?
  • What would it look like for learning to be student centered in your school or district? What beliefs or assumptions might you have to address to get there? Where will you start? Who will you engage?