Traditionally, the classroom management was and still is very challenging. Existing theories, such as behaviorist theory does not always provide effective theoretical framework within which educators could perform their functions successfully and manage the classroom effectively. In this regard, Kohn’s student-directed learning theory is a new approach to the classroom management which may be particularly effective in the contemporary classroom environment. At any rate, the student-directed learning seems to be more effective than behaviorist approach, while the successful implementation of the student-directed learning will keep students motivated and teach them to cooperate with each other and to share responsibilities and functions within their community.
One of the primary concerns of any teacher is the classroom organization. The student-directed learning theory implies that the teacher should share the classroom organization with students. To put it more precisely, the teacher grants students with the possibility to self-organization within their classroom, while the teacher just performs the role of facilitator, who helps to resolve or prevent arising conflicts or disputes and indicate the way to possible improvements. In practice, this means that the teacher just let students choose their functions within the classroom but students will not merely take their position in the classroom but they should be also aware of the responsibility which their position impose on them. The teacher can just suggest students’ possible roles and functions which they can perform, while students elect their peers on those positions or choose those positions on their own. For instance, they can elect a leader/president of the class, a public relations manager, a project team, etc. However, the teacher should discuss in details all functions and responsibility each student will perform holding the position he/she takes and his/her responsibilities. The classroom will also have control officers, who monitor how peers perform their functions and how they behave. The class may elaborate rules and create the code of conduct and suggest measures to influence students, who break the rules. Such approach is very effective because it engage students in setting the rules and lets students manage their own community on their own, while the teacher just performs the function of a facilitator.
Instead, Behaviorist theory would suggest teachers to contract students and to reach positive or target models of behavior through rewards for the manifestation of the target patterns of behavior. However, such approach to the class management is less effective because students will still suffer from the pressure of the teacher and, more important, they will be followers, while the student-directed learning allows them to be leaders.
The motivation is generated through collaboration between students in case of the application of the student-directed learning. In fact, students motivate each other. In contrast, behaviorism imposes the full responsibility of motivation on the teacher. Obviously, multiple motivators from the teacher and peers are more effective than motivators from the teacher solely.
The discipline in the student-directed learning classroom is maintained by students above all, while behaviorism implies that it is the teacher, who is fully responsible for the maintenance of the discipline in the classroom. However, the maintenance of discipline may be time and efforts-consuming. Therefore, the student-directed learning increases the effectiveness of the teacher performance since the teacher can save time due to the self-discipline of students.
Finally, both the student-directed learning and behaviorism admit using democratic teaching styles, but the former provides students with the full autonomy, while the latter imposes the permanent and overwhelming control over students by the teacher.
Hence, the student-directed learning is the best choice for the contemporary classroom management.