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A Creative Solution for Schools in a Post-Pandemic Environment (PART 1 of 3)

Updated: Aug 2, 2021

[This article is the first of a three-part series. This Part 1 looks at Self-Directed Learning, its benefits, and one major consideration for adopting and adapting this philosophy.]


On April 24, 2020, Michael Austin published this article on Edutopia.org titled Why Are Some Kids Thriving During Remote Learning? His article poses the question: "Though remote learning has brought many challenges, some students seem to be thriving in the new circumstances. What can we learn from them?"


Austin's article is only one example of how educators and students across the country are realizing that the traditional school structure could benefit from, what is essentially, a self-directed learning environment. His article highlights how a self-paced flexible schedule with reduced micro-managing as well as increased and improved sleep can improve academic learning. In order to implement such benefits into a traditional school system, school leaders might benefit from adopting and adapting creative solutions rooted in a self-directed learning philosophy. Such a shift in philosophy could improve student learning particularly for those schools and districts considering a hybrid of school-at-home and school-at-school education.


 

What is a Self-Directed Learning Philosophy


Self-directed learning is a philosophy, not a program, so it isn't as simple as one specific checklist of tasks for any school or person - but is also not too terribly complicated. The idea is this: if a person truly wants to learn about a topic, they will be intrinsically motivated to learn everything they want to learn about that topic. Today, the role of the teacher has become more focused on self, social, and societal awareness and management as Universities and corporations across the country and around the world seek these non-academic skills in our graduates. It is in this self-directed learning philosophy that schools will find the motivation to make the necessary compromises to their current traditional practices.


"Self-Directed Learning has been around for a long time."

Self-Directed Learning, in its truest form, is autodidactic - learning without the aid of a teacher. The word's Greek origin comes from autos (self) + didaskein (to teach). There are many examples of autodidactic, or self-directed, learners. Unfortunately, it's more common for people to reference high-profile CEOs like Bill Gates or genius "drop outs" like Albert Einstein. There are many extremely well-known and renowned writers, artists, architects, engineers, scientists, and even Nobel-prize winners throughout history and around the world. Self-Directed Learning has been around for a long time and many have found success without completing a formal education. Many famous autodidacts have been written about regarding their impact on our world throughout history. What's amazing is that our world today has been referred to as The Second Machine Age with a focus on global communication technologies. Part of this modern age is this growing development some are calling the Era of the Autodidact which is highlighting this sudden need to promote Self-Directed Learning as a viable option when it comes to school choice.


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