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2018 Abstracts

Learner-centered Teaching: A Historical Example

Evan Sharp, Brigham Young University

This paper intends to expand and deepen the current research on Learner-centered Teaching (LCT), a pedagogy that seeks to shift the focus of an educator from his or her own teaching to the learning of those being educated. It is modern application that stems from a significant amount of research conducted on learning. The research regarding LCT, however, seems to be focused on modern examples and contexts. No one has looked to the past to find examples of LCT techniques present in the methods of ancient educators. This paper begins the research on historical examples of LCT and intends to open a discussion on the comparisons that can be made between historical teaching methods and the methods included in LCT. One of the learning theories that plays a significant role in LCT is Constructivism. This paper illustrates the presence of constructivist learning in historical education settings through a case study analyzing some of the teaching methods of Jesus Christ. Regardless of one’s belief in historical authenticity, Jesus is an excellent example because his teachings are well-known, widely available, and offer a look into ancient instruction. This paper analyzes interactions that Jesus had with others in the New Testament Gospels and makes connections between Jesus’s teaching methods and those related to constructivism in LCT. The purpose of making these connections is not to suggest that Jesus taught exactly as is outlined in LCT; rather, it is to show the usefulness of studying historical examples of LCT and to encourage such research. Although Jesus does not fit the modern definition of a learner-centered teacher, certain aspects of Jesus’s teaching closely resemble the methods of LCT. New historical insights will aid in a better understanding of LCT. The goal is to expand its area of research, which will undoubtedly lead to better implementation. It will also strengthen the argument for its use in modern education. Other historical teachers should be researched in this way, and connections with learning theories other than just Constructivism should be explored. This paper intends to point out this gap in current literature and call for additional research.