(Initial) Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali's blog has now moved to http://blog.mahabali.me

Independence as Essential for Lifelong Learning


So this is my first go at the #rhizo14 Week 2 Challenge, but it also has elements of sustainable learning (useful for #flsustain as well, i hope)

The challenge from #rhuzo14 is:
Explore a model of enforced independence. How do we create a learning environment where people must be responsible? How do we assure ourselves that learners will self-assess and self-remediate?

And i think a key thing here is for learners to recognize the need, or at least the preference, for independence. It is not enough that the teacher recognizes if. This might be the “role” of the teacher here – to make learners realize they are better off becoming more independent.

But the notion of community is also very important here, as it helps learners feel supported in this process of becoming self-sufficient (another term for independent? A different one?). After that, you would hope learners would become self-motivated as well, and that is the biggest key. I think once someone is self-motivated, anything is possible because it is difficult to hold them down. I don’t know how to foster this, or if it is possible.

But back to the challenge.

I teach edu tech to school teachers. Lifelong learning is an essential goal, hopefully for them as well, though sometimes I assume it for them… Sometimes my attempts to let them be independent are resisted and i tell them “there will always be new technologies and new classroom pedagogies, but there won’t always be Maha” and the key is for them to build a pool of resources and processes (with my help at first, using other colleagues later) to help them stay abreast of new things and to keep learning about them. I want their learning to be sustainable and the products of their learning to be useful to their daily context and synergistic for them, so that what they learn, they use in their work. Whatever projects we do, they use at school.

Now this is a pretty simple situation. They are already adults, teachers, and taking a postcompulsory education course. This is v different from school, or college students.

But the last part of Dave’s question: how do we ensure students self-assess, etc. it is not a big deal with adult education because nothing essentially assessable or measurable needs to result from their learning (important that they learn, but no external body will do much about it)

But with school and college, your course may be a pre-requisite to another that builds upon yours and it is not enough to let each learner set their own goals and meet them at their own pace. You could argue he system is flawed, its structures non-conducive to learning, that it needs more openness and flexibility, etc. But you usually can only control or influence your own classroom, department, or institution (if you are lucky). And also, you maybe want to promote independence in students that they can benefit from even when they are in a more traditional learning situation. (You might argue that independence breeds rebellion against tradition and that may be true, too, but sometimes wisdom can help tamper these tendencies and allow ppl to pick their battles)

Back again to issues of self-assessment. A Foucauldian view of this (if i may roughly interpret it) would be to suggest that this is a new way of exerting power, instead of letting the state or authority assess, but building self-monitoring mechanisms in the individual… Even worse control because it becomes internalized,

But i keep jumping from the concrete to the abstract and back again. If this were a graded post, i would give myself an “F” for “focus” (or lack thereof) but as it stands, i will give myself a”B”for brainstorming, and give anyone who responds to these questions an “A” for “answering” 🙂

Looking fwd to hearing/reading your thoughts!


Author: Maha Bali

Associate professor of practice, American University in Cairo

5 thoughts on “Independence as Essential for Lifelong Learning

  1. Why do we need to ascribe “grades” to learning and how does this contribute to enforced independence of learning?

  2. I get an “A”! OK, I’m over it. Here is an annotated link using Diigo: https://diigo.com/01ijdw

  3. Pingback: Independence as Essential for Lifelong Learning...

  4. Pingback: Community as Curriculum: where i come from, where i am going | Reflecting Allowed

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