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February 10, 2012

A New Focus for School Reform: The Student

by Heidi Zeigler Twitchell

The Quest for a Good Life

Solving America’s education problems continues to be a conundrum. Our educational system poses unique dilemmas including diverse students, curricular choice, and even the purpose of education. Given the persistent and discouraging results in trying to improve our educational system, it is time to seriously rethink our ideas about school reform.

The most overlooked and most important aspect of education reform is the student. This long has been the case. Writing in the early 20th century, education theorist, John Dewey, argued that “the center of gravity is outside the child. It is the teacher, the textbook, anywhere and everywhere you please except in the immediate instincts and activities of the child.”

Jean Piaget, who first championed the understanding of children’s cognitive development, also stressed the importance of the student’s role in education. As Piaget stated, “Knowledge is not given to the passive observer, rather it must be discovered and constructed by…

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