The world has changed. Being a learner is more important than being learned. To have the best chance of happiness and success in the world students have to be able to flourish in freedom. Can you agree? Intellectually, you may be able to make sense of the arguments but the biggest barrier to rethinking education is our own experience.
I struggle with this myself. The curriculum I am teaching is to a large extent dominated by learning outcomes, lessons and assignments, dividing the curriculum into neat chunks. It’s not about the process, it’s about the product. I want to create a classroom where my students can enjoy learning experiences. Not that most of the students are seriously harmed, but it could be so much better when providing them an environment that honors their own learning and develops them as curious, creative, passionate learners in the world.
I am convinced that learning environments that give students more agency and freedom over their own learning are what our students need and I am committed to bringing those environments. Start creating DIY in education. This means empowering students to take action. The ‘mindset’ and ‘rules’ of a DIY learning experience are:
– Be prepared to be scared. Real, personal earning brings chaos and excitement into your life. Learning can be scary and is often risky. The more you learn or understand the more you feel that you have to rearrange your basic assumptions. Try to recognise it and value it.
– Recognize that friendship is learning. Learning to become related to all kinds of people and bring out the best in each other is the core of any self-education. This is especially true when you’re building friendships with people you find intimidating or awkward to deal with. What can you learn from each other?
– Team up with others. DIY learning doesn’t mean learning by yourself. The most important thing is to find people/teachers who will push you to learn what you need. A learning community might be a great place to start, but if it gets too comfortably chatty, then challenge the group to broaden its horizons.
– Act on what you learn. What did you really learn if you don’t change your life in some way every time you learn something? You need to set up routines that keep offering you new challenges. Ask yourself that question and take time to reflect on your learning. What has changed over the last period of time?
– Attend conferences. Conferences, workshops, focus-groups and festivals are a great way to get inspired. You will meet new ideas and amazing people. This is a way to deepen your own learning and start building your network.
– Organise personal mentors. Even most famous people feel underappreciated. If you admire someone, tell him or her. You’ll be surprised to learn how few people do. Tell your mentors what you want to learn from them. This can help you in many ways. Maybe you build self confidence, expand your network, get great feedback or even develop friendship.
– Recognise your self-motivation and enjoy yourself. Give yourself permission to have fun while you’re learning! The point of self-education is to abandon the feelings of inadequacy you picked up in school. I hear you say: ‘But I’m not self-motivated’. Oh, really? Then why are you reading this blog? Because you have to or for fun? Exactly.
And in the end, don’t quit university if you like it. You can take your responsibility for your own learning, even in university, to become your best self. You always have a choice. Not always a choice you like…..but still, you have a choice. DIY learning!