Becoming 'A Self-directed Learner'


Last night, I happened to meet an young American man at a cuisine in Shimotakaido, Tokyo. He has lived in Japan for nearly 5 years. While working as an actor, he is preparing for an IT exam in this month. He said he would like to become an IT professional.

As an educational consultant, I was interested in his educational background. So, I asked him about his school days in the US..

Amazingly, he replied to me that he did not like school at all. Because he was not active and showed his interest in studies, his teachers did not like him. As a result, he got just passing grades.

Since his childhood, he has been familiar with computers. However, he was not good at math. Then, he majored in communication. After finishing college, he had several jobs in the U.S. and came to Tokyo.

He mentioned that although he doesn't like school he really loves learning. Rather, he pointed out studying outside school is much more enjoyable. He decided to study computer science without taking any courses at school and pursue a certificate for his future job.

In the field of adult education, the person like him who can study on his own is often called, 'Self-directed learner'. The educational method to assist self-directed learners is also known as 'Andragogy'.

When educators adopt andragogy, they don't teach their adult learners everything. Rather, the educators supervise the process of their learning and share some instruction. The place to learn is not necessarily traditional classroom. In many cases, the learner studies at office or even at home.

The opposite method is 'Pedagogy'. Like elementary school education, a teacher virtually teach everything to the learners in the classroom. It is also called 'One-way teaching'.

What I learned from American guy's story was that educational method greatly affect how much the person loves learning. In other words, good educators should have various teaching and learning methods for the learner. Indeed, every person has different ability, personality, goal, and learning and life styles.

In the era of AI, andragogy will be much more crucial concept and method.

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