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Teacher vs Learner-centred approach in education. This article seeks to unpack, for full understanding, both of these teaching approaches, and through insights brought, within the content of this article, draw conclusions based on both evidential experience and thought leadership related to both approaches.

So, let us look at the difference between the two approaches and get a greater understanding of what they offer and how they can be beneficial.


Teacher-centred approach – In this case the teacher is perceived to be the only reliable source of information. The focus is on the teacher and their language forms and structure and often you find, in the classroom, the teacher talks while the students sit and listen.

This boils down to “the teacher talks” you the learner “listens”. This approach tends to instil in a child, a passive, non-involved attitude toward their days spent in education. Further the approach fixes a child’s attention on the teacher, from a single learning space the desk in the class room, or the computer screen, if the child is engaged in online schooling. This approach tends to drive work alone on the part of the learner, vs collaboration work with peers, other knowledge experts etc.

One may argue certain benefits, such as this approach ensures that the classroom or learning space remains orderly. Students are quiet. The teacher always has full control of the class and its activities. As such, because the teacher directs all activities, they can ensure that the learners cover the topics that must be presented in the given curriculum.

However, this debate does pose the question – is this approach what’s best for the child, the learner, or is this approach what’s easiest for the teacher / educators?

One could make the following argument!

  1. When learners work alone, they don’t learn to collaborate with other students, and their communication skills may suffer.
  2. This approach instils a passive form of learning into a child at an early age, that has been seen to cause many problems in adult life.
  3. Teacher-centred instruction can be boring for students. Their minds may wander, and they may miss important facts. This approach further stifles the natural interest and excitement of learning, as the child self-determinism is diminished.
  4. Teacher-centred instruction doesn’t allow learners to express themselves, ask questions, and direct their own learning. Or this self-expression is contained and very limited for the learner.

Ok so lets then look at the other side of the coin.


A Learner-centred approach shifts the focus of activity from the teacher to the learners. These methods include; Interest-based learning, which is active learning, in which learners solve problems, answer questions, formulate questions of their own, discuss, explain, dialogue and debate, or brainstorm during class.

In Learner-centred approach- as the term depicts, the learners are the centre of education experience, as such, the learner is also an important resource. A learner-centred environment allows for collaboration to take place in the classroom, the teacher models instructions and acts as a facilitator, The teacher provides feedback and answers questions when needed. It is the learner that chooses how and what they learn, why they want to learn that way. Learners work together and help to solve each other’s questions and provide feedback, using the instructor as a resource and guide when needed.

So let me ask you this…

Is the teacher the only person who can teach?

let me answer this by saying, is a Gurgitator, (Gurgitator defined – An activity in which participants compete against each other to consume large quantities of food in a short time period), the only one who can eat?

Each and every person has their own skill sets, interests, and abilities, and with that comes a passion for what we enjoy or are good at. Listen to any conversation and you will probably learn something new, if you are just open enough to listen and ask questions. Take a mother who shows her son a fish, discusses with him how a fish is caught, if, due to his newfound interest in catching fish, he picks up a rod and tries out how to catch a fish, does that make her a teacher? Or a friend that takes the time to explain or show you what they do as a career with so much passion that you walk away with more knowledge than when you started, with a seed on newfound interest in your friend’s career, is that not a teacher? They may not be teachers, but these moments are lessons. Life is filled with many such lessons that we are constantly learning from, right from the get-go, well into our most senior years.

Have you googled the meaning of a Gurgitator yet? Did you check if our definition was right? Did you learn something new, or did you know what it was all along? Or did you happily just take our word for it? This is one of the very key differences between a child that is moulded through the Teacher-centred approach and an independent free-thinking child that has had the fortunate opportunity to experience the Learner-centred approach. The child of the latter approach is continuously knowledge seeking, and taking actions that will affirm their own independent knowledge for self, that they acquire and own and can then continuously apply, without having to rely on memory or testing, they just know, as they own the knowledge, it does not belong to the teacher it belongs to the learner.

To delve into this approach a bit further, remember our mother that taught her son about fishing, well if she had only given him knowledge around the subject, does that mean that he has now learnt how to fish? Would he be able to pick up a rod and begin to fish? Perhaps not, there is a balance between significance of a subject, that comes from a book or the digital world of data and the actual application, “doing” of a subject that one needs, to fully own a body of knowledge and apply it successfully. Both text book information and physical world application, are critically important in the Learner-centred approach.

So, it boils down to this fact, “It’s not about what was taught but rather how it was learnt. To give a lesson may be easy but to get the lesson through to the other individual in a way that truly empowers the learner toward a rich and owned full and in-depth understanding of the topic or subject, is true teaching, and the only form of teaching that children of today will truly gain an advantage over in the work place they are growing up into.

At SMARTT Cottage Learning Centre, we incorporate a Learner-centred approach, which integrates learning methods for the Learner to gain “owned knowledge”, all within, a nurturing and stimulating environment, where students are provided with the ultimate circumstances, to promote learning, best suited to each individual. There is no “one-size-fits-all”. The uniqueness of each child is discovered and fostered within our proprietary owned, Learner-centred approach. It matters not which home-school / online learning platform, your child may be on, as we adapt to various platforms, and weave in our unique Learner-centred approach. However, the teaching approach does matter and that’s what we, at SMARTT Cottage Learning Centre, focus on. We encourage self-determinism, through interest-based learning, in our students, every day, this allows for their individuality to shine, so that they go forth into the world confident, and capable young adults.


We know which approach will support children best into the future they are growing up into, but we would love your thoughts and comment on this key subject. Have a look at the chart below and let us know, what you think, in the comments below this bolg.

Teacher Centred Approach Learner Centred Approach
Teacher centred approach is an approach that encourages students to completely focus on their educator Learner centred approach is an approach where both the educators and the learners share an equal focus
As focus is on the educator, the learners are quite and the class remains controlled and orderly As there is equal focus, there is much interaction and so less order
The educator talks and learners listen and remain silent during the process Learner and educator collaborate and much communication, debate and dialogue is encouraged
Learners are more passive and tend not to express themselves, as it is the educator that has the floor and is the primary communicator Offers the complete freedom for Learners to acquire knowledge and independently and logically understand topics and subjects, driven by interest and supported by much question asking
Supports memory learning in tests and exams. Often knowledge is not sustained and lost post school leaving Learners acquire ownership of their knowledge. Continuous testing occurs, as Learners understand how to apply the knowledge acquired and can continuously apply it. Memory is not relied on, as Learners own their knowledge during their educational period and post school, college and university and on into life
Classrooms are strict and uniform, but orderly Classrooms and learning environments are often unstructured, noisy, messy and sometimes chaotic, during the joyful knowledge acquiring process
Learners often struggle to communicate and step into Leadership positions in adult life. However repetitive task activities are performed well Learners easily communicate, in fact tend to be outstanding communicators and easily and readily step into Leadership positions in adult life.

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