Student Directed Learning

Students must be free to roam and in this way determine their own interests.  What attracts them?  In what are they ongoingly and increasingly interested? I think of it as an adventure story.

While many educational institutions focus first on ‘requirements,’ this really should come after or conjoint with a roaming period. As a college student I was interested in therapeutic psychology; it made no sense to impose rat training as the necessary course requirements to begin my study.  And to add insult to injury the year long basic course was called Learning Theory.  A successful student learned how to get the most work out of his rat with the least food pellets as reward.  Please think about that one.

If you accept my premise, how then can we consider creating structures to compliment and encourage student exploration?  What makes this inquiry difficult is that the answer cannot be imposed or assumed.  Individuals will have diverse and frankly unimaginable combinations of things that reach out to them and grab on.  At least most of the time.  Occasionally someone is so focused that one pursuit overshadows all others.  Often we hear this of prodigies of different sorts.  The concert pianist, the ice skater or ballet dancer, the math wizard, etc. probably begins at an early age.  But how seldom do the institutions take note and help them plan the next stages of their pursuit.  And when they do, how often is it an after school activity and not for credit.  Future teachers of America, Drama Club, Football practice, math league were what we called these in my day in High School.  The dis-credit is illustrative by their relegation to non-schooling, by being labeled “after school activities.”  Ironically, in my experience this is often when most learning takes place.

Leave a Reply

Notify of