maple leaf 8-8. Towards A Theory Of Self-Education

1. In self-education the locus of control is in the self-educator whereas in formal education the locus of control is in institutions, their representatives, or their prescriptions. Teaching for self-education involves helping students internalize control over their own learning.

2. Self-education is usually a concentrated effort in one field rather than a general study of many. Teaching for self-education involves helping students to identify and become expert at the activity or activities that may become central in their lives.

3. Self-education is usually applied education - learning for immediate application to a task, and from the practical experience involved in executing it. Teaching for self-education involves integrating theoretical studies with technical training and practical application. It means learning for specific use now rather than learning for possible use years later.

4. Self-educators are self-motivated, that is, they are committed to achievement in the filed of their choice, even when faced with difficulties. Teaching for self-education involves helping students to generate their own drive towards their own goals rather than stimulating them to pursue goals set for them by others.

5. Self-education is usually guided by a vision of accomplishment, recognition or rewards valued highly by the individual. Teaching for self-education involves helping students to see themselves successfully experiencing very desirable attainments. It involves learning to plan an effective way of making that vision a reality.

6. Self-educators tend to settle on a particular field in which their interest, talents, past experiences, and opportunities are combined. Teaching for self-education involves patterns of exploration which enable students to try out a wide range of fields or activities.

7. Self-education tend to settle on the unique pattern of formal, informal and casual methods by which they learn best - drawing from such possibilities as study, observation, experience, courses, training, conversation, practice, trial and error, apprenticeship, imagination, productive activity, group interaction, events and projects. Teaching involves helping each student to develop a personal learning style.

8. Self-education involves the development of attributes traditionally associated with people of character: integrity, self-discipline, perseverance, industriousness, altruism, sensitivity to others, and strong guiding principles. Teaching for self-education should promote, model, and reward the development of personal integrity rather than the opportunistic pursuit of offered rewards, or self-discipline rather than obedience, or inner drive rather than the avoidance of punishment or the pursuit of artificial rewards, of caring rather than sustained competition and of strong internalized principles rather than externally imposed rules.

9. Self-education involves the development of attributes usually associated with self-directed and unique, even radical, people: drive, independence of thought, nonconformity, originality, and talent. Teaching for self-education involves promoting drive rather than passivity, independence rather than dependence, originality rather than conformity, and the talents that make individuals unique rather than the tasks that make them all act the same.

10. Self-educators use reading and other process skills to gain access to the information and guidance they need for their projects. Teaching for self-education involves training in the process skills, such as reading and remembering, especially at the moment students urgently need to gain access to information.

11. Self-education emerges as a theme that runs through a number of important experiences in the person's youth; later experiences maintain and develop the theme until it becomes a conscious focus of choices in the person's live. Teaching for self-education involves helping students to identify themes emerging in their lives, to build on those they choose, and to create new themes they desire.

12. Self-education is best cultivated in a warm, supportive, coherent environment in which people generally are active and there is a close relationship with at least one other person. Teaching for self-education involves creating an active environment in which a student's self-directed activities are warmly supported and there are many opportunities to form close working relationships.

13. Self-educated people seem to like others and to be liked or admired by them; they seem to be healthy in attitude, body, and mind. Teaching for self-education involves promoting a holistic approach to learning so that students not only master some knowledge or skill, but they also develop a healthy attitude towards themselves, others, the world and their activities.

14. In addition to cultivating expertise, the characteristics described above outline a process of education suitable for the development of a mature personality, for achieving self-actualization and for the process of learning. Teaching for self-education involves helping each student to become an expert, a participant, and a person.

The Walkabout Papers
Dr. Maurice Gibbons
Vancouver, B.C.

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