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Reasons Why Educators Should Encourage Independent Learning

Reasons Why Educators Should Encourage Independent Learning – Children in a remote Ethiopian village wake up one morning and find a large set of boxes outside. They’ve never seen a written word anywhere- no street signs, printed books, or even cardboard packaging. Now there are boxes with something completely foreign inside.

Would they even open the boxes? The officials weren’t sure. There were no written instructions with the delivery (not that they could have read it anyway). According to the article, it took one child 5 minutes to open the box, grab the tablet inside, find the on/off switch, and power it up.

With no prior experience using technology, the English language, or any printed materials, within days these children were actively playing on average 47 apps a day. Two weeks later they were able to sing the ABC song. And five months later? Some children hacked the tablet to customize the look and feel of the computer.

In this experiment, the children taught the OLPC officials that even without a teacher, as long as they had a tool, they could educate themselves. Traditional educators can learn from this- we must move out of the way and give students the opportunity to learn on their own.

The benefits of self-learning are well documented. Just look at all the advantages an independent learner takes away from their own education.

Reasons Why Educators Should Encourage Independent Learning

Learn how to learn.

There is a difference between regurgitating materials on an exam vs. understanding the process of learning. Students who aren’t given the opportunity for independent learning don’t acquire the skill of HOW to learn and how to examine a principle from multiple angles. The teacher stands in the way of the student’s natural curiosity.

Independent learning focuses on the process and not simply the goal.

The process of learning is an exciting adventure that can be interrupted when the primary focus of the classroom is on the goal. We can learn from famous inventors whose failure in the process became the seed for amazing success down the road.

Flexibility for different levels of intelligence.

Not every student is going to work at the same pace. A facilitator in the classroom can oversee the environment so that each student can work at their own pace and timing.

Independent learning includes time management and other life skills.

Traditional classroom environments can hamper a child’s ability to function in the real world where deadlines, distractions, and other obstacles are in the way. Bosses on the job don’t act like teachers.

Office areas are not like pristine classrooms where everything is methodical and routine. Independent learning requires the student to develop other secondary skills like planning and making priority lists and deadlines to achieve their goals. They must also learn how to deal with distraction effectively.

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