Self-Reliant Learning

A friend was recently sharing her woes with a group she volunteers with.  This group likes to hang out and talk about anything, and sometimes somebody won’t understand something that’s been said.  This has led to some drama more than once as the person will badger the others in the group until someone answers their question.  Now, the amusing part is that the person who finally answers will often admit that they turned to Google to find the answer because they also didn’t know.

I find this so fascinating because the phrase I heard more than any other during my childhood was “Look it up!”  I hated that phrase with a passion, but by the time I was twelve, I had above-average research skills, which made high school, college, and graduate school something of a breeze for me.  I cannot imagine not being able to go look something up for myself.

This bothers me because it says to me that these people were never taught to accept responsibility for their own learning. While I can’t imagine not running off to research anything that catches my interest, these people can’t fathom doing the actual research themselves.

I suppose it’s not terribly surprising that I subscribe to the belief that learning can only take place when one interacts with the material they are trying to learn.  The responsibility for learning in this belief is on the learner himself or herself. That level of self-reliance is something that must be taught, and it saddens me to think that there is a generation of people out there who aren’t being given that self-reliance.

As the old saying goes, “I see, hear, and do, and I learn.” The emphasis in that should appropriately be on the I. If the student doesn’t make himself or herself an active participant in the learning process, then no learning will ever take place.

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