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Bharath Vallabha's picture

Who Determines the Students' Needs?

 "Even if they don't know it, an emergent classroom could give to students what they actually need, instead of what they think they want."

This is a crucial point. "What the students actually need" -- Who gets to determine that? If we are just having a theoretical discussion, what matters is what we think is right; and if you think what students actually need is emergent education, I respect that (even more, I agree with you). But if we are talking about how to actually structure classrooms, then that brings with it issues of power and who is setting the agenda. 

If a teacher thinks, "I think students need emergent education, so I will do that", it seems like the teacher is simply imposing her desire on the classroom. Moreover, it is then unclear how this pedagogy is really different from the traditional one where the teacher dictates what happens and the students simply accept that.

I am not saying that we should strive for a value-neutral classroom. But I do think that whatever values are guiding a class should be acceptable to every person in the class; something that each person, after a little bit of reflection, can accept. My point is that it is not clear at the moment emergent pedagogy meets this standard (that is, students like the one in my original example wouldn't accept it).

If emergent pedagogy is to work, it can't be enfored by the teacher or some students in a classroom. It has to come from all the participants of the class. And what I am unclear about is: How is that kind of group synchonicity going to come about given that students might come to a classroom with very different conceptions of what they want out of it (some might want the class to be very traditional, some not traditional at all)?

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