As with most education topics, there are many different definitions for and schools of thought when it comes to self-directed learning.
So, what is self-directed learning? It’s a process where individuals take initiative in order to increase their knowledge or skills, at any time and place, without the help of a teacher. The overall concept is that students take ownership of their learning.
That’s cool! Students should take ownership of their learning. They are in fact the ones who will most benefit from their personal knowledge, as well as their education.
It’s how most adults operate in the “real” world. Adults are in fact self-directed learners. There isn’t a facilitator around to teach us all the things we now find that we need or want to know. We have to seek out the information, learn it on our own and then utilize that knowledge to assist us in tackling whatever problem we are trying to solve. It’s a big reason why I love Google so very much.
Some may argue that given the choice, students won’t learn the things that are really important for them to know and that they aren’t self-motivated enough for self-directed learning to be effective.
So, how do we foster self-directed learning in our students? We ensure they have the tools of how to learn and how to study, so while they are self-directed in their studies, they can recognize any study barriers that may be impeding their progress and remedy them instantly.
Let’s give them the study skill set they need so they can successfully increase their knowledge and skill, in any subject and at any time and place, without the help of a teacher.
Children can be self-directed learners; they shouldn’t have to wait until adulthood in order to discover the power and value of independent learning.