self directed learning

What is Self Directed Learning

Have you ever engaged in a learning process entirely for the sake of learning? Perhaps when you tried mastering any musical instrument or learning a new language. The memories might take you back to your childhood or summer vacations. Unfortunately, because we do not experience a lot of genuine learning in schools.

Self-directed learning as the name suggests is a learning process entirely tailored by the individual as a student. In its true essence, it is about a person taking all the necessary steps needed for learning just out of curiosity.

We are all born curious. But soon the exposure to the materialist education system kills the inborn instinct of curiosity-driven learning. Yes, the education system is great for producing students with a restricted set of skills and no critical thinking. But students lose most of their learning capacity under the rigid and restricted school systems. Where schools and colleges have a confined learning program for all students. To state the fact every student is a unique individual and simply doesn’t deserve to be subjected to the same learning process.

On the contrary, this approach to learning is all about the students who seek to learn. Instead in SDL, there is no curriculum or program, but the student makes one for himself. The efficiency of self directed education programs over others is huge. The learner is always more aware of his end goals and the time he can commit to learning. The education system usually doesn’t take that into account.

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Self directed learning benefits

The benefits of it are countless. From the personal development of the student to the overall prosperity in the society, self directed learning can do a lot.

  • For anyone pursuing self directed learning, it is a totally new approach to life more than just an education method. It is wrong to assume that SDL requires the student to leave school or college. Allotting as little as one hour every day to this method can do wonders for anyone.
  • This type of education enables children and students to truly discover their potential. And allows them to discover the secret to learning any skill or discipline in life. School systems are based upon teaching the ‘what’ of knowledge. Whereas SDL does not limit the creativity and interest of students they get a deeper understanding of the ‘WHY’ and “HOW’ of knowledge.
  • Once engaged in self directed learning students embark on a journey of learning a host of skills. Not just the skills related to a certain discipline but social skills too. The independent pursuit of knowledge instils a sense of critical thinking. Moreover, the students on a self directed program learn a great deal about time management and research skills.
  • SDL creates room for breakthroughs and inventions. This is far from a reality for the old education systems. Schools and colleges encourage uniformity. The emphasis of these institutions is to make everyone follow the same confined line. This stops the students from thinking unconventionally. Where in SDL programs it is quite the opposite. Firstly, the learner only pursues what he is passionate about when it comes to self directed programs. Secondly, an SDL program never puts a cap on the limits of the learner. This encourages the students to follow their interest to the farthest reaches of reality as we know it.
  • Under self directed programs students have no limit to the resources for learning. With the power of the internet self directed learners have access to millions of books and resources. School systems restrict students to a specific set of course material. On the contrary, a self-directed learning system opens up all doors for knowledge to flow in. Students are more likely to appreciate and acquire more unbiased knowledge when under a self directed program.

Also Read:How to Speak English Fluently? And learn it FAST!

Self directed learning in the classroom

  • SDL doesn’t mean isolating oneself from the rest of the world. The idea that to pursue self-directed learning one would need to stay away from classrooms and lecture halls. This method is more like a philosophy than a mere learning program or schedule. It is an approach to learning. Classrooms and lecture halls can provide a very fruitful medium for encouraging and praising self directed learning.
  • Classrooms should bring together diverse minds to provide an efficient and friendly learning environment. Learning is all about practically solving problems and using intelligence to gain and absorb insights. Unfortunately, the reality is quite the opposite of that. Classrooms today are more like a prison cafeteria. the students sit with no intent to learn but only to get the attendance. This needs changing.
  • Instructors or professors taking the class should promote critical thinking by introducing useful class activities. Promoting design thinking among the students allows every student to creatively grasp bits of knowledge with greater understanding.
  • Teachers should make sure to develop a mutual learning environment in the class. Where every student gets the chance to participate and share his views without any judgements. Involving students in the classroom discussions and activities will ensure that the learning process remains balanced. And this will also guarantee every student benefits the same much in the class.
  • Providing a detailed understanding of the course’s practical applications can have a profound impact on the students. Often it so happens that a much interesting topic divides into multiple abstract concepts. This limits the student’s ability to look at the grander perspective of the ‘WHY’ of a topic. If the instructors can point towards the practical applications of the course contents, students will find their interest leading the way.

Self directed learning strategy

This four-step process is all you need to devise your very own SDL strategy:

  • Self-evaluation: to its core learning is about knowing and accepting your weaknesses. Only then you pave the way for betterment. The first step is about analysing where one stands. What circumstances he/she finds themselves in. Also, it is important to realize what resources one has access to. 
  • Goal setting: once you’re done with the first step, then comes the real part. Before going on a voyage you must know where you’re going. Setting realistic goals for your learning program will help you stay motivated. It is a futile exercise to spend time at something without an end goal in mind. In this case, when studying you must precisely specify your end goal. This allows one to achieve much more in less time. 
  • Immerse in the learning process: the thing with SDL is that the learner will have to genuinely love the learning process. Nothing else matters in a self-directed learning program but the learner and his/her determination for learning. Without this spirit, it is no better than the faulty education system.
  • Evaluate learning: lastly, the learner should actively question his beliefs and analyse learning outcomes. Humility is the major driving factor for greater enlightenment. Once a student makes the ignorant assumption that he knows enough, his/her learning stops the very day.


To cope up with the progress of the time we need to radically improve our education system. A system that strengthens and encourages a student’s natural skills. Self directed learning is the answer to that. Adapting to this learning method we can produce more able and competent citizens.

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