Dr. Maria Montessori was a pioneer in the realm of education. Her passion for inspiring a love for lifelong learning among children has resonated throughout Montessori classrooms for decades. She believed that a teacher’s job was to lead children to concentration and then help them further develop their skills only after the child determined that their time concentrating was completed. This concept of self-directed learning is still encouraged in Montessori classrooms and it has a significant impact on student outcomes when compared to teacher-led learning.
Self-Directed Learning Creates A Healthier Learning Environment
In classrooms where learning is designed to achieve specific outcomes and reach pre-determined benchmarks, students tend to have higher levels of stress and anxiety. Outcome-based learning is largely dependent upon memorization rather than understanding the full application of concepts. Children within outcome-based, teacher-led classrooms are typically given very little leeway and self-determination in regards to exploring topics that interest them. Rather, they’re given a one-size-fits-all education.
On the other hand, children in self-directed learning environments are given the freedom to explore their own natural curiosity. This allows them the freedom to pursue their own unique passions and truly develop a love for learning, rather than striving to pass a standardized test. Self-directed learning helps children develop a healthy and true, intrinsically motivated pursuit of knowledge.
Self-Directed Learning Encourages Lifelong Critical Thinking And Problem Solving
Dr. Montessori said, “The child who has never learned to work by himself, to set goals for his own acts, or to be the master of his own force of will is recognizable in the adult who lets others guide his will and feels a constant need for approval of others.”
When children are encouraged and inspired to embark on their own journey of self-directed learning, they move from being passive students to being active navigators in their pursuit of knowledge. By giving children the freedom to explore the world around them through hands-on experiences, it enables them to build new constructs and find their own strengths. It’s this self-led exploration that teaches them to think outside the box and ultimately become adults who are confident, capable, and passionate about making the world around them a better place.
Teachers Are The Listeners In Self-Directed Learning Environments
Teacher-led learning has become the norm for much of modern society. This style of learning requires the students to typically spend the majority of their school day listening to a teacher deliver information that the students are largely expected to memorize. In this kind of classroom, teachers deliver content and a student’s main role is to listen. The opposite is true when children are in self-directed learning environments.
Dr. Montessori once said, “The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, “The children are now working as if I did not exist.” This pedagogy remains the goal of teachers in self-directed learning environments. Their role is to create a well-prepared environment where children can flourish at their own pace and provide students with gentle guidance as necessary. Teachers in self-directed classrooms use their own observation and listening skills to identify each students’ unique needs and develop strategies to help each child reach their full potential.
The concept of self-directed learning empowers children to understand that they are beautifully unique. By allowing them to explore what interests them – and by helping them understand that intelligence is greater than reaching preset benchmarks – self-directed classrooms help children shape their own positive self-image, build confidence, and become resilient leaders in all aspects of life.