We sometimes double guess ourselves. I'm not sure why. Perhaps we need to ensure we have done our research properly to feel we have an evidenced base to justify our actions. However, something like self-directed or self-guided learning has plenty of research behind it and many schools are heading in the direction of personalising learning. This is more and more common in MLE's and for those of us in single cell schools, it's about MLP. It is possible to transform traditional practice in a single cell class. It's happening already. In lots of places, like our school.
The double guessing comes when we're questioned by parents (or by colleagues) about our approach and when things aren't quite going right, a new approach is quickly identified as being a potential problem.
And what about preparation for high school? How can students having choices and having to manage themselves possibly prepare them for high school? Sound familiar?
My thinking is, school is first and foremost not about preparing learners for a future life. They're living it right now. We should be giving learners what they need for today. It's ridiculous to suggest that everything a learner is doing is preparation for "real life" and that at some stage they'll recall the skills and learning for when it really matters. It matters now! They need to use and apply what they've got now.
I also believe that the skills and experience gained from managing oneself through a self guided approach will actually give a learner the skills they need to be successful at any time. Being able to prioritise tasks, know how much time to give a task and to know one's own strengths are essential. This knowledge and these skills can only be gained through being given opportunities where learners gain experience in applying them. (And when you look at it, these are actually skills that would make a learner successful when they do go to high school.)
There isn't an age when these skills can be acquired, it's no use saying that these are things a learner will be able to do in the senior school. Nonsense! Learners have been making decisions and learning plenty in their first 5 years of life and it should be that this type of learning continues when they first start school - not ignored for 4 or 5 years and then reintroduced sometime later in their schooling.
So, to all those innovators out there, trying new things and wanting to transform their practice - I encourage you to keep going. Kia kaha. The easy thing to do is "pack up" and revert to what has always been done. Is this a lesson we want our learners to learn? I think not.
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