learning2learn – study skills – independence? 

So …  you have left the classroom and are at home? There is work to be finished for school? Nobody around at home to distract you or probably several people or other things that take your attention? “Homework” time? Choices to be made? No teacher there to help you … thank goodness! Left to your own devices you plan out how to complete what you have to do within a given time frame.

Choices to be made? When do I start? How long should I spend on which subject? Where will I work? Where is the best place for me to do my homework? Which piece of work is the most important? Which the least important? What do I need to help me complete the work? Who can I get some help from? Do I need Internet access? Can I contact my teacher via email, out of school hours? Is there an online forum that might help me with what do have to do? What information can I find in the textbook, library, online or elsewhere? Am I organised to learn? What do I need to do to achieve my goals effectively and efficiently while I am not at school? Do I have everything that I need to get started? Do I have everything that I need to finish well? How can I best use my time to achieve what it’s required?

Procrastinating already? Or are you planning? Are you actually following through on your plan?

If we are moving towards an educated generation that seeks less dependence on the formal acquisition of skills, knowledge and experience and more independence in the ways in which we choose when, where and how to acquire even prescribed base-level competencies, then meta-skills such as “learning to learn” (or even traditional “study skills”) become explicitly more important and less subliminal than than learning systems that view the teacher as the single source of knowledge, skills and experiences.

In short, if life-long learning has some pedagogical currency and with it the transferability of knowledge, skills and experiences between subject knowledge, career development and workplace practicalities, then being able to learn quickly and adapt to novel situations will require a re-emphasis on flexibility and the efficiency with which we can learn.

Becoming an independent learner (studying alone) and being an inter-dependent learner (studying with, for and through others) all involve attitudes of mind … your mind. While “one size does not fit all” there are some common habits that may assist your confidence in your own capacity to learn on your own and with others:

  1. Committing to a learning process that fits your life goals – your priorities, your available time and your access to supporting resources
  2. If it’s to be … it’s up to me – make a decision and accept personal accountability for what you do or don’t do
  3. Prioritising your values and your beliefs – turn intentions into self-belief and actions … Be the you, you want to be
  4. Identifying where, when and how you learn best – when challenged by a task, create an environment which allows you the best chance of success
  5. Participating first and then competing – errors are an  opportunity to learn, but if you choose not to contribute through fear (be it of failure or possible social embarrassment) you are choosing not to learn
  6. Travelling in another person’s shoes – be prepared to see alternative ways of understanding information and seeing things as being as legitimate and as authentic as your perspective; challenge your own weaknesses first before you challenge others
  7. By all means use and acknowledge other people’s ideas but take a good idea and make it even better – we all stand on the shoulders of giants!
  8. Always stretching the limits of your thinking – if you go too far you can still come back, but do not miss an opportunity to adopt a new perspective; test it and learn!

Why not take on a short refresher course for “learning2learn”?