Over generations of evolution of the way we learn, humans have started believing the fact that children learn only what they are taught or made to or sometimes even forced to learn. Somewhere down the years we’ve totally forgotten that the human species is naturally made to learn new things and to adapt to surroundings and situations on its own. We are the only species which can make the most of favourable conditions, bend our needs to accommodate survival.
Yes, as adults (parents or teachers or both) it’s our responsibility to make sure that the learning is happening but not necessarily the way in which we want it to happen. We almost always forget that it’s not our learning so it never was about what we want. It’s always, always about what the child wants. It’s about the child’s interest and inclination. It’s about his desire to learn something. Learning can happen anywhere, anytime as it’s driven by the mind irrespective of the time, place and other external factors. It’s best achieved when there’s less structure and more choice. Choice empowers learners. It gives them a feeling of control over their learning. This control and ownership act as catalysts in making them hungry for learning something new. The whole aspect of happiness which revolves around the realisation of understanding something new is almost euphoric. Remember when you could parallel park all by yourself for the first time? When you just knew which direction to steer in reverse and the car simply fitted into the empty space like a glove. That euphoria! It can only be achieved when you do it with minimal intervention of another person.
This doesn’t imply that we just let the children be and let them do whatever they want to. We’re always there as an onlooker, a facilitator, provider of resources and for ensuring their safety. We’re there to help only when it’s asked for, and not when we wish to expedite the process just to put a check across our to-do list, mental or otherwise. It’s time taking, no doubt, but it’s lifelong.
Self-directed learning is like creating little mountain peaks in our minds, which might take a long time to be made but once they’re there nothing can move them.