Drew Stephens

Energy, debate, laughter, dialogue and intrigue – our classrooms are full of it!

For several hundred years, the “stand and deliver” technique of teaching was the accepted practice. Students would sit quietly in rows, listening attentively to their teacher, who for all intents and purposes, was the holder of the knowledge. In this environment, students worked individually on assignments, and cooperation was not typically encouraged. Certainly, before the dawn of the internet and mobile technology, this method served our society quite well.

But what happens when the world evolves and students can simply ask Google for the answers? What happens when society and economy tell us that students need to know how to think creatively, how to work collaboratively, how to assess information critically and how to communicate effectively? How do teachers “teach” when solutions and information are now easily available through iPhones, iPads and other handheld devices?

In today’s world, schools and educators must adapt, change and innovate. We must accept the shifting paradigm of our traditional classrooms to keep up with the ever-changing pace of technology, the accessibility of information and the skills our students will need to flourish in our knowledge society. We must move from the teacher-centred, “stand and deliver” method, to a student-centred one.

Student-centred classrooms are busy and energetic, full of debate, laughter, dialogue and intrigue. They’re fun, engaging and interesting places to be! They’re the opposite of the muffled, restricted classrooms of yesterday.

Student-centred teaching methods shift the focus from the teacher to the learners. A student-centred approach supports active learning opportunities, in which students formulate questions of their own, discuss, explain, debate, create and brainstorm during class; students work in teams on problems and projects, and they collaborate in an environment that facilitates both individual accountability, as well as mutual interdependence. This approach teaches students how to ask questions, solve problems, think critically, evaluate evidence, analyze arguments, and generate ideas.

Student-centred teaching engages students in the hard, difficult, and circuitous work of learning. Content is presented and questions are posed that require students to broaden their thinking, question assumptions, and analyze how the world works. In this way, students develop the sophisticated skills of asking thoughtful questions, creating understanding and working through the “why” of a problem. Students construct meaning, build a better awareness of how they learn and strengthen their understanding of who they are and how they fit in the world.

At Southridge, our teachers seldom “stand and deliver,” and our student-centred approach to teaching and learning is the thread that weaves our Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum together. Although the Junior and Senior School educational programs may be distinct in how they address the different ages of our students, they are complementary to one another and are founded in the philosophy of student-centred teaching. They work in concert to help our students ask questions, probe challenges, debate ideas, and work collaboratively to construct an advanced understanding of their world as they continuously search for a deeper appreciation of the truth.


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