An Introduction to Self-Directed Learning

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Self-directed learning -- education driven by what the student wants to learn -- is a concept that has been gaining favor. It is being practiced, in different forms and to different degrees, in a wide range of settings, including: select classrooms in conventional schools; independent school-within-a-school programs; homes; community learning hubs; homeschool resource centers; and various types of ""alternative"" schools.

This session will address the following questions: How does self-directed learning differ from conventional education? Why do some parents and educators prefer this approach? Is self-directed learning for everyone? How have self-directed learners fared later in life (including in college and in the career arena)? How are the parents' and educators' roles different in a self-directed learning environment? How does this type of learning affect students' relationships with family members and people within the broader community? What are the range of ways that self-directed learning can be practiced in institutions, in informal groups, and/or in homes? What are the necessary ingredients to success?

Luba Vangelova is a writer and communications consultant based in Washington, DC. She has been writing about education for media outlets such as the KQED MindShift web site, TheAtlantic.com, Science Teacher magazine, and Salon. She has a bachelor's degree in systems engineering and a master's degree in journalism.

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