The Peoples' Institute for Re-thinking Education and Development

Child-led Learning

International organizations like UNICEF brought out the framing of 'child-centered' education as an attempt to bring more focus to each child's needs and diverse learning styles more than three decades ago. This unfortunately failed to challenge and shift the 'banking model' of education which sees every learner as an empty vessel to be filled. The Brazilian educationist Paulo Freire raised his famous critique of the banking model of education 50 years ago in his famous book Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Schooling has not changed very much so the notion of child-centered education still ends up seeing the child as an object to be filled, manipulated, molded, etc. The obnoxious and toxic term 'first-generation learners' also reinforces the banking model. Very few of the educational interventions out there actually respect the learner and encourage them make decisions about their own learning. (Even so-called progressive education models such as IB have fallen into the same trap.) I would like to propose a different framing of 'child-led' education, which seeks to reclaim and restore the agency, dignity and power of each learner. Such a framework recognizes how the brain works but also the contexts, questions, emotions, relationships, talents, creativities, learning styles, dreams, local culture and ecology (the more-than-human world), etc. of each learner. We call for more focus on 'self-designed learning' models such democratic schools, creativity adda, nooks, unschoolers ecovillage, ecoversities, etc. which create genuine time-space for learners to design their own learning goals and paths AND nurture a collaborative learning community. This is not about just another add-on workshop or special class. We invite you to join us in the movement to reimagine education.