Traditional classrooms center on teacher-led learning: the teacher sets all goals, plans all lessons, and generally runs a tight ship. Advocates of this approach, if it ever occurs to them there might be any alternative, say teacher-led classes are more orderly and keep the learning focused on well-considered goals and purposes.
Of course, if the only other option is letting students do exactly as they please, the teacher-led approach makes sense. However, true student-led learning—despite images the term may evoke when first heard—doesn’t mean giving the kids blanket permission to take over. It simply means keeping things flexible enough to meet individual student needs, including the needs to take initiative and have a voice. (Because of the potential confusion, many educators prefer to call this approach student-centered learning or learner-centered education.)
There are reasons to believe that student-led learning is actually more effective:
Ideas for Making Your Classroom More “Student-Led”