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Principles of Self-directed Learning

Principles of Self-directed Learning

18 January, 2016

The following are the main principles of Self-directed Learning

  1. Programs should be in accordance with a life of learning, the natural ways we learn and the unique methods by which each of us learns best. The basic assumption of Self-directed Learning is that from birth to death we live lives of learning – – learning to function then to live well and finally to make a difference. Learning is a natural process drawn both by the history of our species and our history as individuals. Our success depends upon the range, depth and quality of the learning we accomplish. Each of us displays and develops these natural capacities in an individual way based on the talents we are endowed with, the experiences we encounter, the strengths we discover, the interests that begin to direct and motivate us and the patterns of learning that we develop. A Self-directed Learning program should be congruent with these lifelong, natural and individual learning drives.
  2. The programs should be adapted to the growth, transformations and transitions experienced by students, in this case, adolescent students. Adolescents experience rapid physical, cerebral and hormonal change that is frequently destabilizing. Among the transformations or passages that they must address, the most vital is establishing and confirming a personal, stable identity. Key features of this formation are the improvement of reflection, character and competence. The major transition they face is from dependent childhood to independent early adulthood in which they must secure new freedoms and meet the responsibilities that go with them. Self-directed Learning programs are designed to cultivate the successful accomplishment of these changes in the pursuit of excellence as a person.
  3. Self-directed Learning programs should be focused with all aspects of a full life. Academic studies are significant and included, but so also are the personal, social and technical domains of human experience. The personal domain is focused on the cultivation of the individual’s talents, values and interests. The social domain is concerned with the individual’s ability to relate to others, to learn from them and to work with them. In the technical domain emphasis is placed upon competence, performance and productivity. In Self-directed Learning focus on these domains is as important as focus on academics, in part for their contribution to academic success, in the main because they are for a successful life of learning.
  4. Learning in Self-directed Learning programs should employ a full range of human capacities, including our senses, emotions and actions as well as our intellects. Self-directed Learning is grounded in direct experience. Experience is absorbed by finely honed senses. The mind reflects, investigates and plans. Feelings stir, drive and direct our thoughts and efforts. But our senses, feelings and thoughts all focus on action, the application to productivity and the production of palpable outcomes. Self-directed Learning is designed to hone awareness, cultivate drive, stimulate thoughtful conclusions and shape plans that all lead to the successful achievement of challenging outcomes.
  5. Self-directed Learning activities should be done in settings suited to their development. The classroom is a useful setting if it is converted to serve SDL, but even converted it is a limited environment. Many experiences can be brought into the classroom directly or indirectly through simulation and the media. But SDL thrives best when the setting is expanded to include a wider range of people to learn from and places in which to learn. This begins with the local community and spreads outward to include the widest possible experience of challenge in the world. Many studies are learned best on site. We learn about others and their lives by knowing them directly and working with them. We develop character by service and other caring acts. We learn by challenging ourselves in real world situations.