As I learn more and more how to guide self-directed learners, I find it very important to have an ‘exit strategy’ in mind for each of them at graduation. Begin with the end in mind, and all that jazz. Of course, a personalized educational path will mean very individualized goals for graduation. In general, there are five values that I want each student to have by the time they leave my advisory group.
5 Values for Self-Directed Learners
- To know your own strengths and weaknesses as a learner. Intimately. Be who you are, but be prepared to bolster yourself in some areas and allow yourself to shine in others. Understand how to manage your procrastination, etc. Know your personality type and what that means for yourself and your coworkers.
- To be confident in your ability to learn anything, anywhere, autonomously. Know what works best for you- and do that. Pick a MOOC or an internship or a book or a university class or research a topic to the end of the internet. Take notes in pictures or graphs or words. Record a lecture and listen to it while running. Be an expert researcher in every way possible.
- To understand that passionate interest does not absolve you from hard work. I love the recent quote by Ashton Kutcher- “Opportunity looks a lot like hard work.” Just because you love something does not mean it will be easy. You will have to work hard, even while loving what you do. You may even work hard at something you hate, just to get the chance to do what you love. Take personal responsibility. Have a work ethic. Ask your grandparents what that means.
- To work within the system while changing the system. Know how to package your independent and personalized learning adventures in a way that works for universities and employers. Be a translator. Keep plugging away at change, but do it through your own personal excellence. You do not always get to pick how things are done, even in a self-directed environment.
- To network, collaborate, and value people with humility. Others invest in you because they want to see you succeed- you are not entitled to anything. Value your mentors. Thank your parents. Work well with others. Forgive. Reach out. Know when to move on. And make sure you give back when and where you can. You may think you are an expert, but there are generally others out there that are much further along the journey than you… and know more than you. Be passionate about your area of expertise, but listen. Learn from others even when you think they have nothing to teach you.
Of course, I’m still learning. And growing. And I’m confident that this list will change…. I leave you with Ashton’s Kutcher’s speech. If you haven’t see it already, it’s worth the 4 1/2 minutes of your life.
What are the five values you want your students to have prior to leaving your classroom?
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