The 21st century may be one based on the principle of inclusivity. From the birth of the all-encompassing World Wide Web, to shifts in corporate management that limit hierarchies, the world is increasingly encouraging everyone to get involved. The same holds true for teaching methods. Teaching has shifted from a dynamic that focuses on students sitting and listening to a professor speak for a prolonged period of time to new student-centered approaches. Top liberal arts schools embrace these methods, swapping the term 'professor' for 'facilitator' to show how dedicated they are to student-directed learning.
Read on to discover more about how top liberal arts schools are changing classroom dynamics.
The Basics of Student-Centered Learning at Top Liberal Arts Schools
When 'professors' become 'facilitators' that means that the learning process is inverted, with students becoming the center of the learning process rather than the teacher or professor. In liberal arts college courses at Shimer, you will experience this inversion as you delve into beautiful source books. It's a simple philosophy; there is no better teacher than the greats, the Platos, the Kaftkas, and the Foucaults. Most textbooks that are usually provided in university or college courses are merely re-interpretations of these primary texts, and so in textbooks the meaning of the primary texts are presented already 'figured out' for students. This is not so at a great books college, where students are encouraged to critically examine and discuss primary texts to truly understand their meaning.
Why Just Primary Texts? What Students in Top Liberal Arts Schools Need to Know
By providing only source material for students, this method allows students to get to the good stuff right away and allows them to think critically and make their own assessments. One student, Allison Savage, explains that "At Shimer we don't call our professors professors, we call them facilitators because it's based on the idea that they're not there to profess to you, they're not there to teach to you, they're there to facilitate a discussion." After reading primary texts, students discuss their meaning and value in groups of no more than 12 peers with a facilitator. It is this intimate learning process that is highly effective and allows students to hone their critical thinking skills.
A Student-Centered Approach Gives Students Autonomy and Respect
Carl Rogers is one of the founders of humanistic psychology, and influenced the formation and transition towards student-centered learning approaches. Rogers explained that "the only learning which significantly influences behaviour and education is self discovered." Top liberal arts schools relinquish control of the learning process, or make it more liberal, rather, by changing 'professors' to 'facilitators' and giving students the tools to learn and the autonomy to learn how they want.
Shifting from a 'professor' oriented teaching style to one where the professor facilitates conversation and meaningful discussion is a shift that places new emphasis on and more sincerely respects the intellect of the student. Students are treated not as receptacles to be filled, but as active, intelligent human beings who have the agency to figure out primary texts themselves.
Want to enroll in a liberal arts college in Chicago and read prolific literature with great 'facilitators'?
Contact an advisor today to begin facilitating your new liberal life!