Friday, June 23, 2006

(Part 6) Self Directed Learning: Reflection

Experiential learning is, by far, the most effective method, though under-utilized within the walls of academia.
To explain why I believe educators shy away from it in favor of lectures and worksheets. I will take a psycho-analytical approach:

Many people who choose teaching as a career do so because they are very comfortable with a highly structured environment; the schedules, the bells, and the rules. Experiential learning, especially when self-directed, asks teachers to step outside of a comfort zone and into a situation where they are not always in control of the outcome. That can be very scary for some folks.

I am not a person with control issues, in fact I have a sign in my office with a quote by poet Wistawa Szymborska that says:
"I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order."

I try to give my students as many experiential learning experiences as I can, but I am not always successful with a self-directed approach. Although I am comfortable relinquishing control of an outcome, quite often my students find self-direction very confusing. They like recipes, they like specifics, they like to be told exactly what to do.
It is easier for them.
Creativity requires thinking, it requires work.

My ambitious students will take a self-directed assignment and fly with it. My lazy students will more than likely give up and fail. It is extremely hard for those kids who were never expected to think for themselves, to be expected to make their own decisions.

It is up to me to open the door and give them permission to explore. Some of them will eventually find the courage to step outside, others may need a push, but sadly there will always be those who will flat-out refuse, never leaving an environment that tells them what to think and how to live.

1 comment:

Jill said...

I want, no - make that, I need that sign, MB. Love these posts.