Independent Learners are excited about learning
Every man who rises above the common level has received two educations: the first from his teachers; the second, more personal and important, from himself.
— Edward Gibbon
Many people misunderstand the meaning of Independent learning. Some authors believe that when you move from high school to college you become an independent learner – because you spend less time with your professor and more time studying on your own. The problem with this is that you are still letting the professor tell you what to learn, when to learn in and how to prove that you learned it by writing a paper and taking tests that will all be evaluated by the professor. There is nothing independent about this.
Seth was homeschooled and his parents encouraged him to become an independent learner. They encouraged him to study subjects he was most interested in and to move at his own pace. When he was younger, he was interested in dinosaurs. This led him to learning about fossils and his parents took him to places where he could find his own fossils. In high school, these interests led him to study Evolution and how DNA studies are now changing the way we understand the relationships between living things.
He is taking a Freshman class in psychology but it does not cover psychological testing. This is a topic Seth has been interested in for some time.Seth is planning to study this topic independently. He will talk to his professor about what books would be helpful. He hopes the professor will actually loan him some books on the subject.
There is another professor who sometimes teaches a graduate class on Psychological Testing. Seth will also talk to him. He hopes that when the professor teaches that class again he will allow Seth to be in the class. Seth doesn’t care about the credit. He just wants to learn more about the subject.
You learn best when you are most actively mentally (and sometimes physically), making your own decisions about what, how, where, and when to learn and using strategies that activate your mind.
— Ronald Gross in Peak Learning, 1999, p.11
The Difference between
Dependent and Independent Learners
Category: Dependent Learners Independent Learners
What to Learn Teachers and curriculum define You choose your topic and how
. subject and topics to learn much to learn
When to Learn Teachers decides when to learn You decide when to learn and
. and time spent on topic how long to spend on each topic
How to Learn Textbooks, assignments, lectures Develop your strategies and . choose resources and activities
Final product Assigned papesr, Tests, Grades Design your final product and . and participation lead to grades evaluate your own progress
Results Students are bored and learn little Students are more highly . motivated and learn much more
Many students, of course, fall somewhere in between the two extremes. They may be dependent learners in some classes, or in all their classes at least part of the time, but occasionally act as Independent Learners.
Those who know how to think need no teachers.
You can be an Independent Learner for the rest of your life: Lifelong Learning