How I got rid of my authority?

The revolution of self-directed learning | Sean Bengry | TEDxFlourCity 

I belong to the old teaching school, I was sage of the stage for a decade of my teaching journey. Few years ago, as a result of the challenging speed of knowledge, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) highly demanded that programs in computing field that include objectives to prepare students to engage in life-long learning and thus there was a need for independent or self-directed learners. Self-Directed Learning (SDL) is defined as “a process in which individuals take initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies and evaluating those learning outcomes (Knowles, 1975, p.18)”(Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p.63)

I was suppose give up my authoritarian role and attain new skills to help my students become enthusiastic independent learners for life. The transformation wasn’t as easy as it might seem. The most difficult moment for me was when students that were unable to be independent learners started blaming it on me and accused me that I wasn’t teaching. For instance, I wanted to return to my comfort zone at the time and get back to the educator centered instruction. But fortunately, I didn’t. After some time, I understood that is a typical outcome due to the lack of students’ readiness to become SDL learners i.e. we can’t spoon feed students for years and then ask them to be independent in a short period. I set a plan to start developing SDL skills at earlier stages of any course, I explained to students their need to become more independent, gradually increased their responsibilities and I believe that I achieved as many of them successfully were able to attain personal and academic skills needed to learn again independently and adapt to the rapid change in the computing field.

The experience helped me as an educator to get back to the basic fundamentals of our profession which are to foster critical thinking not obedience, to inspire and create and not focus on compliance, and most important to teach with any eye on the future which implies educators to keep in mind that we are preparing students “for jobs do not yet exist to use technologies that have not yet invented to solve problem that we don’t even know they are problems yet (Darling-Hammond el al.,2008,p. 2)”(Merriam & Bierema, 2014,p.5)
Reference:

  • Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L.(2014). Adult Learning Linking Theory and Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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