Teacher-Centered and Child-Centered Pedagogical Approaches in Teaching Children's Literature

By Hara, Katsuko | Education, Spring 1995 | Go to article overview

Teacher-Centered and Child-Centered Pedagogical Approaches in Teaching Children's Literature


Hara, Katsuko, Education


Introduction

In this paper, I will discuss teacher-center and child-centered pedagogical approaches focusing on teaching children's literature. In discussing both approaches, first, I will investigate the relationship between both approaches and curriculum implementation within a framework of children's literature. In order to connect both approaches to curriculum implementation, I will present Huch and Kuhn's (1968) curriculum as an example of the teacher-centered approach and Barton and Booth's (1990) curriculum as an example of the child-centered approach. Then, I will place them in the general field of curriculum theory by employing Miller's (Miller, 1981, 1985, 1988; Miller, Cassie & Drake, 1990; Miller & Seller, 1985) curriculum framework. Second, I will discuss how each approach modifies curriculum objectives and outcomes. Finally, I will conclude with my opinion.

Two Pedagogical Approaches and Curriculum Implementation in Teaching Children's Literature

Teacher-centered Approach

Huck and Kuhn (1968) presented a teacher-centered approach in their curriculum in Children's Literature in the Elementary School. The function of this curriculum is to transmit facts, skills, and values through mastering knowledge. The curriculum focuses on learning the correct interpretation and understanding, and identifying a central theme and the author's intent. The teacher determines all teaching content and children are just the receivers of knowledge. This curriculum reduces the content into small components that are clearly definable and measurable. Huck and Kuhn insist that the most appropriate approach in a curriculum for literature needs "to identify purposes, to suggest materials and methods, and to establish scope and sequence" (p.687). The purpose of Huck and Kuhn's curriculum is to inculcate knowledge in children such as literacy skills and literary criticism through using textbooks. They emphasize the importance of understanding teachers' lectures and the contents of textbooks in order to master literacy skills and literary appreciation. In accordance with this purpose, they clearly define the curriculum into small components. In literature appreciation, for example, they divide the components into plot, climax, theme, point and author's intent and indicate how to appreciate the literature. They illustrate how "such a planned programme of teaching literature in the elementary school will assure children the opportunity of getting to know books and developing an understanding of literature" (p.692).

The underlying concept of the teacher-centered approach is based on traditional pedagogy wherein knowledge is passed from teacher to children. There is primarily one-way movement of sharing knowledge and leaning contents from teacher to children; subjects, standards and methods are determined by the teacher. The major aim of this approach is to transmit values, attitudes and ideas from teacher to children. It is demanded that children master what is in books and in teachers' lectures. In other words, this teacher-centered approach emphasizes competency-based learning and stresses that children accomplish the goals set by their teachers (Husen, 1985). Because teachers must be in control of the learning process, systematic, planned instructional design is very important and teaching techniques are stressed. Consequently, the curriculum is clearly divided into small components.

The teacher-centered approach is related to the transmission position in Miller's (Miller, 1981, 1985, 1988; Miller, Cassie & Drake, 1990; Miller & Steller, 1985) curriculum framework. Miller presented three curriculum positions: transmission transaction and transformation. In these positions, the transmission position focuses on mastering traditional subject matter and acquiring basic skills. The teacher promotes education through the transmission of facts and values in competency-based teaching. In the teaching process, the teacher tries to inculcate general knowledge of traditional school subjects and cultural mores. …

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