Learning can best be understood as a form of problem solving. Learning can be, and should be, an empowering and motivating experience. But too often it is seen by young people as tedious and irrelevant. Go into schools and observe some of the countless activities that teachers are directed to cover, and you will realise that young people have a point.
A good starting point for anyone aiming to promote learning is to ask ‘to what problem is this a solution?’ Why do they need to know this? What’s the point? Good teachers know this, but they are continually hamstrung by the ever changing, but never justified, demands of our centralized educational system that emphasizes teaching rather than learning, and assumes that simply covering arbitrary collections of material at arbitrary points will suffice to educate the school population.
Our challenge is to reconceptualise schooling in terms of learning (not teaching) and problem solving. This will mean changing the way we think about the curriculum, assessment and the role of the teacher. And it means that we need to realize that student-centred learning is not, as usually presented, a rather more palatable version of the traditional model. Rather, it is the only reasonable solution to a perennial problem.