January 10, 2016

Child-centric approach

Child-Centric Education

Child-centric education is a holistic method of education. This method aims for the development and natural growth of the child by providing him/her with the freedom of action and spontaneous movement subject to the condition that these actions don not interfere with or harm anyone else or their environment. This method focuses on unlocking the hidden potential of the child through self-directed play and other autonomous activities rather than focusing on the basic memorization of certain key information in order to achieve higher grades in the exams.

Child-centric education empowers the children with hands-on practical skills for life such as choosing to solve  problems creatively and to persist until the problems are solved, taking the initiative and responsibility, working through tasks with interest, motivation and full commitment. The teacher’s role would be as a facilitator who is there to encourages the child, to demonstrate and to guide him, if and when necessary. Child-centric education is empowerment, unlike what traditional schools would consider to be the purpose of education, namely as an economic activity directed toward receiving a degree certificate in order to apply for a job and earn some money!

Two examples of well-known child-centric education systems are Kindergarten (which was developed by the German educationalist Frobel in 19th century) and Montessori system (which was developed by the Italian physician and educationalist Dr. Monetessori in early 20th century).  They share some common characteristics and they influenced millions of children. Among them, there are many successful business leaders, poets, scientists and so forth. Maria Montessori set up the very first Montessori preschool in 1907 in one of Rome’s most downtrodden neighbourhoods, and this Casa dei Bambini became a model for future Montessori schools. In the U.S., more than 500 public and charter Montessori schools have achieved high levels of success. Today, there are more than 22,000 Montessori schools worldwide on six continents, and more than 5000 Montessori programs in the US.

Why Child-centric education

  • To produce competent and innovative individual for the 21st century economy: Research and empirical studies shows that child-centric education produces motivated skilled individual who can take initiative, adapt with new challenges, e.g. learn a new skill and do better for themselves and their families. Current education system often creates an unhealthy attitude in the individuals towards life and themselves. Often these individuals lack in self-esteem and necessary competency to progress in life.
  • To raise children as the responsible citizen of the society: Our society needs more people who will think for the social problems and come forward to address these problems with skill and commitment. The seed of love for the community and its people should be planted in the early years when children have special sensitivity towards many things.
  • To create peace-maker for the world: Our world lacks in individuals who have passion and care for the whole world and its inhabitants. Child-centric education method teaches the children to live with peace in a diverse classroom with old and young children who look-after each-others problems and aspirations.

Differences with traditional education system

  • Traditional education system is mostly content or subject based; teachers role is to tell students; students are passive acting as ‘an empty vessel’ which may be poured by the teachers. Under child-centric education, child takes the lead in his own learning. Different subjects are taught holistically. Teacher’s role is a facilitator who guides the child if and when needed.
  • The traditional system often put over-emphasis on getting good grades in the exams. Child-centric system provide observation on the children to improve and plan for next activities.
  • Mixed-age class room: Unlike traditional system, child-centric education offers mixed age classes such as 3-6 years, 6-9 years, 9-12 years classes etc. In this environment child can learn in his own pace without rushing to finish in a 50 minutes class. Older child help the younger in lessons and they become master in their interested subjects. They can do mistake and learn to correct by themselves with repetition and concentration.
  • Child-centric education avoids extrinsic rewards like A+, star or gold medal. This reward system is very short-term in traditional education, absence of this reward prevent children to thrive in their learning. Child-centric education provides intrinsic rewards like happiness upon completing a challenging task or helping out others.
  • Traditional education system is often rigid and children can have little or no autonomy in what they will learn. The fixed and narrow syllabus approach prevents the child to be independent learner and seeker of knowledge that can benefit them and the society. Child-centric education provides an autonomous learning environment where help and guidance of the teacher is available if and when needed.

How it will work with traditional education

After a child finishes his pre-school and primary he can easily adapt to high school under traditional system. As this personal traits for success is already developed he can extend his foundation by taking responsibility on his own. Parents and teachers do not need to force or nag them to study or look for work. They can find their way on their own.