Cultivating a Love for Self-Directed Learning

SDL

Recently I’ve been using the internet to learn about Google Apps for Education in order to pass at least five tests to become a “Google Educator.”

I’ve spent the last two months studying, and one of the biggest takeaways upon reflection is how important it is to cultivate within young students a willingness to learn on their own.

With so much information at our fingertips, developing new skills has never been easier. Young people must understand that learning never stops. Too many programs are being created and changed on a continual basis, making it impossible to exit college and never participate in another lecture, tutorial, how-to book, etc.

Learning is not always easy. Sometimes it’s very difficult, so the educational system must instill a willingness to keep learning so students will never cease their intellectual and skill set growth.

How can this be done?

That’s the trillion dollar question. The best place to start is to teach content the students find relevant and even enjoyable. Give them tools that foster creativity. Allow them to publish their work to a wider audience than just the teacher or classroom. Make learning 24/7. These are essentials for today’s young generation.

I’ve been a proponent of teaching students how to code. It will always be important to provide young people with the most recent technological skills so they can have a foundation to build upon as they progress through their education until the day they enter the workforce.

It’s also apparent, however, that computer programming is changing – perhaps to a large extent even disappearing. The tools that are being created now such as Adobe’s Muse, which allows designers to create websites without writing a line of code, can very well make website creation much more ubiquitous.

Here’s what’s happening: The tools for communication, creativity, and production are becoming more sophisticated and easier to use. Programming will be important for creating these tools, but more and more people will be given the power to create professional websites that they couldn’t have created years, or even months, ago.

It’s because of this that we need to teach students how to think, not necessarily how to do a particular skill. I repeat, I’ll always support teaching students how to code, but there are important goals educators must have, and they include:

•  Developing a love for learning
•  Being able to teach students how to learn, unlearn, and relearn as times change
•  Teaching students how to have the wherewithal to think critically and on their feet

These are the foundations we build skills such as coding upon, and it’s important to note that coding can help train someone how to think, so there’s definitely a dual purpose there.

The bottom line, however, is that students must know that learning never ceases.

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