The New Age of Education – Creating Self-Directed Learners

There have been enough research papers written, articles published, speeches given which points out what we already know. The present generation of students will be in professions that have not even been conceptualized.  Still we insist on “what to teach” rather than “how a child is learning”. There is very little focus on whether the student is enjoying the learning process and developing competencies like- creativity, critical thinking, research abilities, reasoning and self -management. So what is the solution? Unless the ownership of learning moves to students rather than teachers we are not even close to solving the real problem. Each and every child should be guided on how to become a “self- directed learner”

If we want our students to succeed in future, they have to transition to being self-directed learners – ones who are willing to take the ownership and learn on their own. The freely available content on multiple platforms have made this relatively simpler, it’s just that students have to acquire the skills of research and inquiry. Self-directed learning encompasses a wide variety of modes- hands-on learning, peer learning, assimilating feedback to improve, and independent research. Educators have to consciously integrate these aspects in every day classroom to enable students to become self-directed learners.

How can educators support?

1.  Start by making students aware of their responsibilities as learners. Teaching and learning goes hand in hand. Unless students understand the expectations from them, efficacy of the classroom will be limited

2.  Provide opportunities by allocating pre-work to research a particular topic, rather than just a post discussion practice based assessment

3.  Have groups formed in the class who have specific tasks of presenting a topic, creating worksheets, developing project work etc

Teachers can further support children by identifying various referencing sources, connect them to mentors or parents who can provide more information and finally give them tools to assimilate their learning. Most of the above pointers form an integral part of the teaching process at Oakridge.

How can parents support?

“Parents are teachers, and home is a child’s first and most important classroom” – Hillary Clinton

5 steps that parents can take to support children

1.  Encourage your children to ask questions concerning things around them. This develops natural curiosity in them – a critical component for self-directed learning.

2.  Instead of giving direct answers to their questions, lead them to sources where they can find the answers themselves.

3.  Provide them with basic fundamentals of research- like proper referencing to avoid plagiarism, taking notes, creating mind maps etc.

4.  Internet is a rich source of information; however without proper guidance students will be distracted. Always have a conversation on do’s and don’ts of internet surfing

5.  Finally don’t just judge the performance by the final output but the process that was followed

Gradually teachers and parents should move to a role of being facilitators to learning giving way to student led classes.

“I never teach my pupil, I only provide the conditions in which they can learn” – Albert Einstein