An approach to teaching and learning in which the learner, their interests, enthusiasms, and aspirations are taken as the starting point of the education process, and the learner is credited with taking responsibility for their own learning. The teacher or educator is regarded, according to this model, as a facilitator of learning, rather than as a dispenser of knowledge or skills; and the learning process itself takes into account not only the academic needs of the learner, but also their emotional, creative, psychological, and developmental needs. Based on a humanistic model of education, the learner‐centred (or pupil‐centred) approach owes much of its underlying philosophy to theorists such as Rogers and educators such as Malaguzzi. The lesson planning and teaching takes into account the learners' needs in relation to their social, emotional, and personal development, and allows for learner control over the learning activities employed; and the curriculum takes as its starting point those topics which are of direct interest and relevance to the learners. In a learner‐centred approach, learners are encouraged to take some responsibility for monitoring and evaluating their own progress.
In its most radical form it implies a democratic community of learning where learners and teachers have equal status, and learners exercise a choice over whether and what they will learn. It is an approach to education which emphasizes discovery learning and the learner's right to self‐determination. From a philosophical point of view it sits uneasily with externally imposed targets and testing and with a standardized curriculum. It is commonly (and to some extent inaccurately) used, however, simply to describe a style of teaching in which the learners are actively engaged with their learning rather than adopting the role of passive recipients of knowledge. In this sense it is construed as the opposite of teacher‐centred learning, in which the teacher takes the active role and the learners are required merely to be receptive.