Autonomy in Learning

teacherI’d like to explore the first important element to motivation in learning — autonomy. People, especially adult learners need to have freedom in what they learn. The one phrase I hear repeatedly with Education Reform efforts is: “We need to determine just what students need to know, and then we need to teach that to them.” But what if I turned to you and said: “I’m going to figure out what you need to know and then I’m going to teach that to you.” You’d most likely take offense to that statement. You want to be in control of your own learning. And thus this is the problem with motivating adolescent and adult learners. You can’t just tell them they should learn something. They must understand why, and for what personal reason. I once heard a statement that the best dentists can work themselves out of business. That is that the best dentists ensure that their patients always improve their dental health, so they need fewer amounts of dental work. I believe teachers should also work to put themselves out of business. After high school, students should be so autonomous in their learning that they can self-direct it on their own. They will still have teachers, but they won’t need them.


About chbernat

I am a technical writer and instructional designer. I have an intense interest in adult learning and instructional design principles. I greatly feel that adults need to take control of their own learning in order to advance their knowledge and skills throughout life.
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