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Self-learning vs Traditional Learning

There is an increasing debate among educators about the different teaching methods available and the evidence in support of self-directed learning leading to better long term outcomes. Before adding our voice to it, this is a summary of what The Smart Cookies believes are the fundamental differences between the two schools of thought. 

ThemeTraditional/ ClassroomSelf Learning
Role of the adultInstructor and Expert. The adult is a subject matter expert and will guide the student in the learning process. Facilitator and Co-Learner. The adult harnesses a child’s curiosity to discover and learn together.
MethodologyDefined syllabus, note taking, structured instructionEngagement, Discovery and Play
Scope of LearningAs defined by “the authorities”As defined by the learner’s curiosity and pace of learning
Success MetricComplete understanding of the course workConfidence and tools to explore deeper by themselves

Most of these debates try to take sides on which one is the better methodology. And as with any nuanced subject, the answer probably lies somewhere in-between. 

The main area in which the Traditional classroom teaching methods win is with scale. It can be regulated, delivered and refreshed across geographies and millions of learners. While it does not lead to optimized outcomes at an individual student level, it does the job of providing a base to build on! 

And that’s where self-directed learning programs outside of regular school can help supplement the child’s learning and development. Full-time self-directed learning is probably a couple of generations away from wide-spread availability and adoption. However, after school or camps are ideal settings for children to start exploring a new way of learning things. And then apply the same methods to their school work to make it more engaging, fun and practical! 

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