Self Managed Learning

Summary

This is an amazing area that we have been exploring for a decade now. We are part of a wider community of 'democratic learning' and constantly attending online seminars to do with this vital subject. What we have come to realize is that ALL true learning is personal and that there are millions of ways of doing it. Sitting in front of someone talking is just one way . . .  but as many children discover not necessarily the right way for them or at the time. 

We start by respecting that we each learn differently and that learning is what we 'do' very naturally. The question is "how?"

Read on . .

We imagine learning as getting the shopping and putting it into kitchen cupboards. First you make your cupboards and then you go shopping. When you go shopping you have thought about what you need, when you return there is somewhere to put it all!! When you eat you will know where to find that tin of beans. If you build cupboards with food all over the floor much of it gets wasted and the process takes longer. (explanation coming . . .!!)

So the mind is like this - create open cupboards for information by experience and the information can be stored and allocated efficiently. In practice we learn best by doing things iteratively (trial and error) after which we read the instructions (!). Life has to be lived experientially not theoretically and once we have struggled with a problem we are ready to receive the information that helps us. If not we don't know where to store that information and we forget it.

State education is hugely inefficient at making educational 'personal and appropriate'. How can 25 children all have the same learning needs on a particular day and time? Yet providing this for each child is the law!! It is known that we remember less than 1% of all we get taught. The law requires education to be 'efficient'. That is with little waste. So learning by Self Managed Learning is highly efficient - and ultimately much more rewarding.

Self Managed Learning is the ability to identify what we need to know and having the strategies to find that information or experience. It's how we will live beyond childhood and it is arguably the most important strategy to teach anyone.

Interestingly we find that those who have spent time learning in schools tend to come to us expecting direction - a typical question they ask when they show you what they have done is "is this alright?". Time & Space began in Suffolk where we provided for school chilkdren on exclusion or for additional support. We would tell them we have two rules "respect yourself and respect others". We had no prior agenda for them, they were allowed to sit and do nothing or explore - all day or week if necessary.

And they always got busy - playing music or making things. This alone was refreshing to them - as we respected their learning needs they respected us and one another. We have never had theft or violence or even bad language from some children that schools sent to us. In fact, when they met Home Educated kids and their love of learning and a laid back approach they loved it. Their biggest problem was returning to school and though parents typically reported such a difference in home life and behaviour elsewhere they found it very difficult to persuade schools to make T&S a permanent learning solution.

 

For this reason we are focusing T&S on Home Education - ie those that have already made the leap away from state education which can be traumatic in itself. Bev is currently doing a degree in Law and Education and we are exploring transition packages to help children when they decide to Home Educate - because believe it or not the state currently does nothing to facilitate this process despite the option in law for parents to home educate and the local authority's often aggressive monitoring policy when that happens.

We provide a range of learning contexts for learning from 'sit down and listen' concerts(?) to totally free range exploratory open agenda (craft clubs). In between we have specialist staff to inspire and lead sessions as well as students themselves and we operate cooperatively and collaboratively - ie we respect one another's needs and celebrate one another through success and failure.

 

No learning method is 'best' - they just need to be right for the occasion and the learner. Kids should experience a diet of methods not just one that suits an assessment system. We can help those who need more 'hands on' experiential learning with fewer time constraints or other educational 'hoops' that stifle creativity.

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