April 26, 2017

“Oh, my students are all self-directed learners!” Mr. Simpson beamed.  “They all choose to do exactly what I say.”

I smile. I have heard this point time and again from my colleague. I don’t buy it. I have seen too many examples of profound self-directed learning from pre-kindergarten up to graduate school and beyond to accept his opinion.  

THE SELF-DIRECTED LEARNER LABEL

So what do I think it takes to earn the self-directed learner label in today’s classroom?  That requires a change in the classroom culture and a switch from teachers like Mr. S who rely on fear and punishment so that students depend on them as sole sources of wisdom-- to teachers who build a climate of mutual trust and respect in which students are empowered to choose their learning paths—who learn how to determine what, when, where and how they will learn.

1.  From A Culture of Rewards or Punishments. When the classroom is a place where “I talk, you listen,” “I give directions, you follow directions,” students make...

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