In the November issue of Educational Leadership there was an interesting article Students at Bat, I found a correlation to the article and conversations about self directed learning, both for students and adults. The article used an analogy of how playing neighborhood baseball taught many skills to children, for example: they chose teams, picked positions, decided where bases were located, what was considered a home run and determined batting orders. Older children taught younger children how to bat, run the bases and how to field the ball. Children resolved their disagreements through compromise and consensus.
Today most children don’t have the chance to play neighborhood baseball, their leagues are structured and run by adults who pick the teams, determine who plays what position, create the batting order and the schedule of when games are played. Organized sports today are much like school, kids are told where to sit, who they will work with, when to eat, when to get up, when they can talk, what they will learn, and how they will be measured on their learning. As students move up in grade levels their choices become fewer and fewer, schedules are more structured, and course requirements make their time in school more restrictive. They have fewer opportunities to learn about sharing, resolving disputes through compromise and consensus. They are rarely asked to participate in conversations to decide about their learning goals, rules of conduct, or classroom procedures.
Yet we talk of self directed learning and its importance education today. When decisions are made for students and they are given little voice they are unlikely to develop a sense of responsibility. If they believe their opinions and preferences don’t matter they are unlikely to take ownership of their learning. Without ownership what is their motivation to succeed? How do we begin to involve students in their education? What are we doing to prepare them to be self directed learners, what is taking place in your district to move students and forward in this area?
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