This program will use a student-centered approach. The student will be actively engaged in using the language. The goal is to expose the students to a wide range of discourse. In effect, this program will use an action-response model of learning: the student speaks, writes, or reads, and others respond to his/her statement, composition, or interpretation.
Though suitable to all, this program is primarily designed for the student whom teachers have identified as “general,” meaning, all too often, that the school system has few specific programs to satisfy his/her educational needs. This is the same student who is sometimes identified as disadvantaged, though more often characterized as impoverished. This approach to learning is designed to provide the student with motivation for reading and writing, at the same time giving her/him appropriate materials with which to practice and reinforce his/her literacy.
The assumptions of this program are that the primary problem in teaching language arts, specifically reading and writing, is not caused by students’ intellectual deficiencies but by their lack of motivation. The program further assumes that a student’s desire to learn makes learning possible. The student’s attitude, therefore, is of much concern to the teacher.
This program moves from the traditional language arts curriculum with its fixed scope and sequence to a curriculum that is student-centered and open-ended. The assumptions of a fixed scope and sequence curriculum are that all students must be exposed to a set body of knowledge, that there is a basic amount of information to cover, that there are required skills which must be taught in a certain order, and that all students learn the sane things in the same way, often in the same amount of time. The student-centered approach emphasizes the acquisition of basic skills, but at the same time stresses the growth of independent thinking, a sense of responsibility, and a humanistic view of the world.
The program developed here will not use a curriculum guide or a program of study based on a single textbook. Instead, the program will be structured around a broad selection of diverse materials, teaching tools, and techniques. As students explore reading materials, read their own compositions, share books, newspapers,and magazines, study themes, and are helped to classify and categorize information, they are participating in a flexible curriculum largely of their own making. Working with the teacher, the students will help the teacher shape the curriculum for the year. The teacher will provide inspiration and guidance for the students and create opportunities for the student to learn skills in a natural manner. The teacher will develop a range of opportunities to meet the diverse interests, needs, and developmental level of the class, and individualize each student’s rate of progression. The teacher sees to it that the students have opportunities for the building of concepts and the development of skills.
The success of this program relies on the teacher’s understanding and belief that each student learns at his/her own rate and internalizes experience in his/her own way. Respecting the student as an individual means that the teacher provides a variety of materials, makes them easily available, and helps students make choices. The teacher in this program is a diagnostician who watches students carefully, listens to them, and finds out about individual interests, abilities, and needs. He develops and suggests specific learning experiences based on these needs. He groups some students; he lets others work individually. He pays a great deal of attention to students’ feelings.