Friday, 20 January, 2012 at 11:48 am
Henry Ford would be surprised to know that his technique for mass production has been silently adopted by universities around the world. These tend to graduate students which do not clearly differ with their fellow professional members. These scholars are unable to learn by themselves, and their knowledge becomes dependant on a limited number of lectures a week.
The reason is that independent learning is barely promoted. Teaching institutions can be seen as one tool inside your professional toolbox. They are valuable and reliable sources of knowledge as they have proved to be over centuries. But at the end of day that is all they are: one source. The world of a pupil does not end between these four walls. Students must be unsatisfied and look for new tools and fresh sources. These may be in libraries, around the city or hidden in the internet. Today more than ever there is an open access to incalculable knowledge and it would be a crime to ignore it.
So, what is independent learning? It is self-directed learning. This can be confusing though, as it should not end up in thinking and acting autonomously or in planning and organising one’s work. A successful independent learner should end up knowing how to think, play, experiment, ponder, tinker, foster, finalise, and communicate their product regardless his speciality.
Independent learning should be encouraged by all means. It is a vital skill for the lifelong process which is studying. You teach yourself how to judge, acquire and manage information. You teach yourself how to motivate yourself, how to stay on track and how to administer the limited resource we all consume: time. In our rapidly changing society becoming an independent learner is not any more a fashionable trend, but a necessity.
We humans learn through a limited number of ways and everything we learn today, although might seem irrelevant, can come back in years time as useful help. Despite the fact, knowledge is an infinite source and we don’t have infinite time to learn it all. We therefore have to choose what is relevant for us and what is not. We do this naturally though: through interests, curiosities and intuitions. But the only way to become better in something is practicing, and learning everyday makes us more efficient by even sometimes teaching us what is not worth learning.
If this seems complicated, it really isn’t. Just stay hungry and stay foolish. Be receptive and do not content yourself easily. Do not let your interests, curiosities, and intuitions be satiated.