Self-directed learning

“Learning is an active process that requires work, dedication and time, …not only (mostly) on the part of the teacher, but mostly of all on the part of the student.  As a teacher, I am here to help and guide you through your learning in the best way I can, but I cannot learn for you.”

As a College professor, these are part of the opening words of each of my classes.  I want my students to understand that they are not coming in my classroom to have knowledge poured over them as if they were empty receptacles but as active, engaged and interested learners who should take their learning in their own hands.  (And sadly, this scares the hell out of them.)

I wish the same for my own children.  I wish for them to remain life long learners, self-directed learners, ones that never loses their desire to learn, and their creativity, which I trust will be invaluable in life as it will be in the future.

I strongly believe that the only learning that is real, valuable and most of all persistent through time is learning that takes place by an active learner who chose to follow his own set of rules and his innate path to the mastering of a concept.  This has to happen at a moment that is pertinent to the child, and not at a moment that has been set by outside laws, directors, or teacher.  And the process need to be supported and protected by a mentor  who knows the child, and has no hidden agenda.

And so my focus with my own children is to provide them with this possibility of having the time, the support,the environment  and the resources to help them attain this goal of being able to manage, direct and understand their own learning process, instead of having it imposed by programs, ministers or schools.  I believe that if they are able to go through school life, whether it is in school or not, while keeping their desire to learn, and most of all the control of their learning, they’ll be able to build themselves a life at the level of their hope and expectations.

My influences:

I have always been influenced, in my educational philosophy, by the work of Maria Montessori.  I believe she was one of the pioneer (if not the first person) to truly understand the need for each people to drive their own learning, and the powerful benefits of letting them do so.

Recently, I have also been very influenced by the work of Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia approach for the early years, also partly inspired by the Montessori method, and by extension Project Based Learning, by Lori Pickert.   This has changed my view of learning, and of our need of creativity.

Ressources, links and suggested reading:

Here are a few ressources that I have found invaluable in shaping my own views of learning.

Creativity

Montessori

Reggio Emilia and PBL

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