Passive learning is where students sit inertly while a teacher gallantly attempts to capture and direct their attention, somehow forcing knowledge into submissive and often distracted and uninterested minds. From kindergarten onward, the “do it to me” learning model is the norm in our society. Students’ brains are assumed to be empty vessels waiting to be filled and the teacher acts as a verbal textbook.
While passive learning works after a fashion, we do have a highly advanced technological society after all, which relies on outside forces. Learning usually grinds to an immediate halt the moment formal instruction stops. Most people cease learning the moment they get out of school.
It is easy to get so vested in the passive learning model that we forget that other, more effective models exist, BUT they require self activation, internal motivation.
Self-directed learners systemically increase their knowledge, skill, accomplishment, or personal development using their own efforts and any method in any circumstance at any time.
Effective self-directed learning is also both self-planned and self-managed. Learning is maximized when there is a clear and desired goal, a plan to achieve that outcome, and internal or external support systems. Self-directed learning works best when the learner is emotionally invested in either the process or the outcome.
It helps when “multiple valuable possible outcomes” exist i.e., there are numerous payoffs. The process of learning itself becomes enjoyable, the sense of accomplishment burnishes self-esteem, the learning itself provides discernable benefits, more and greater goals seem to become possible, one’s self-concept is enhanced, others’ views of the learner improve.
When I graduated with my bachelors in finance and my MBA, I quickly realized that I possessed tremendous knowledge about business but very few practical skills. After stumbling a few times, I embarked on a frenzied reading program to acquire the missing skills. I did not know it at the time, but I had embarked on a self-directed learning project.
Being a self-motivated, self-directed, systemic life-long learner is key to living an extra-ordinary life, to super-powered living. Many methods exist from CDs in the car to night classes. Books are my favorite, and 30 to 60 minutes a day will revolutionize your life. (Don’t have any time? Use CDs during your drive time. Still don’t have time? Stop watching TV. Still don’t have time? Spend less time eating. You’ll be thinner AND smarter!)
“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” — Chinese Proverb
“I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.” — Eartha Kitt (1927–2008), American singer and actress
“The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as long as we live.” Mortimer Adler (1902–2001)