What is Self-Directed Education?

What is Self-Directed Education?

 When we can figure out HOW to learn and not just WHAT to learn we can set ourselves up for a life of non-stop growth, transformation, self-confidence and reliance. 

When we figure out how to learn we feel empowered to direct our own learning and  see the world as a place of abundance with limitless opportunities and possibilities.    

Self directed learning is when a person is free to direct or navigate the course of their own unique learning journey.

It is when an individual takes initiative for their education.  They figure out in a supportive environment that is rich with resources and experiences how to identify their learning needs, formulate goals, identify resources for learning and choose how to implement an action plan to attain those learning goals.  

It is a beautiful way of life where living and learning become one.  Where we see our lives as intricately intertwined with learning.  It shifts the perspective of learning from something that happens separate from the real world to highly integrated with it.

It calls upon individuals to be active participants in their education which fosters a deep awareness of how you learn, also known as metacognition.  

Knowing how to learn is an essential skill in our lives so let’s empower our children to do the same. 

If you are looking for reasons as to why self-directed learning works then please, keep reading!

1.  Self directed learners are able to teach and learn for themselves the most valuable skill of life-long learning: the skill of knowing HOW to learn. When you figure out for yourself how you learn then you have given yourself one of the greatest gifts- the ability to grow and nourish an innate drive and need to self-educate. You will no longer need to rely on others to teach, but instead will know how to seek out support and identify methods, ways, strategies, and skills to teach yourself.

2.  Today’s economy is driven by innovation, entrepreneurship, ingenuity, and creativity.  We need to cultivate entrepreneurial-like qualities. This includes the ability to think critically, creatively, have a sense of agency over choices and decisions that we make while being able to look at the world in new and imaginative ways. This is acquired when we have the freedom to direct our own learning, to take control of our lives through self directed learning. 

3.  Self directed learning promotes the natural development of self-confidence, initiative, perseverance and life satisfaction.  When we feel in control over our lives and the choices that we make our brain can function in a goal oriented way. This optimal state allows our pre-frontal cortex where executive functioning skills such as critical thinking and decision making to develop optimally. 

4. Having agency over our lives means that we are responsible for the decisions that we make which help us create our own paths. When we direct our own learning we increase our ability to make good directions since the stakes are often high. The more practice we have with making our own decisions and weighing them against options the more likely we are to grow into responsible, sensible, compassionate, and productive adults. 

5.  Self directed learners will learn for the SAKE of learning and not because they have to.  Their curiosity drives their pursuit of knowledge which means they become an expert in their comprehension of knowledge.  They often start their quest for knowledge with questions in mind.  As they search for answers they naturally connect new knowledge to their prior knowledge and schema which improves how well they comprehend information.  In turn, self directed learning is associated with better long term memory retention.

6.  Self directed learners regularly utilize good comprehension strategies such as monitoring their reading, evaluating information, using inferencing, determining important elements in a text and later synthesizing it so it can be applied to new experiences.

7.  Self directed learning is set in a context of real world experiences. When learning experiences and opportunities are set in contextualized, real world scenarios we are more likely to apply what we have learned

8.   Self directed learning is fully supported or facilitated by caring, resourceful, and loving adults from the entire community.  It requires awareness, access to resources, connection, support, opportunities, and experiences beyond the walls of the home or classroom. 

9.  Self directed education creates a collaborative culture where individual liberties and freedoms are valued and exercised. A collaborative culture is a win-win philosophy.  This win-win philosophy means that we can exercise our freedoms as long as they don’t inhibit the freedoms of others. We can negotiate terms, decisions, and choices. This is different from compromising where we may be asked to give up on something that is valued by us. Compromise asks us to sacrifice  or surrender something important to us.  It comes from a place of lack and a place of wanting to win out over the other person. However, when we negotiate we stand up for what is important to us and make a decision that works for all parties involved.

10.  Without expectations to meet particular proficiencies, expectations, and/or deadlines, self directed learners can go on quests for knowledge for as long or as little as they would like.  This means they can dive deep into a particular area of interest for months at a time which may result in even more inquiries and acquisition of new skills that even they didn’t expect to acquire.

Self-directed learning creates conditions for optimal social, emotional, and cognitive development with self directed learning.  Our children and the future of our world need humans to grow with an awareness of their inner genius and capacities for greatness. 

What peaks your interest in self directed learning?  What concerns, fear, or misconceptions might you hold around self-directed learning?




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