When it comes to learning, we all know who should be in the driver’s seat: the learner. Ofcourse we need to build the capacity of our students to take the steering wheel and drive. Compared to learning to drive this metaphor is even more true.
We should create a learning environment for students where only the ‘fail-safe’ is in the hands of the educator. With fail-safe I mean prevent situation where people get hurt. This mean questioning rather than giving answers, stimulating interactions instead of listening and coach the follow up.
question rather than answer
In terms of putting learning in the hands of students, it is much more powerful to know the questions, than to have answers. The best educators are the sharers of questions. They are happy to know less about information and more about inquiry. It’s about the importance of building a conversation around a series of questions to showcase that learning is about a process. Yes, it is a process of seeking answers, but also one of uncovering new questions to ask. By its nature a question is not an endpoint, educating through questioning puts the power in the hands of students who will be learning the new questions to ask. And that often allows the power to be shared by all.
keep it interactive
A challenge built on questions creates a great foundation for empowered learning. But we need to make sure that if we want students to do the learning (driving), we keep the learning about ‘doing/making’. After all, we can’t do all our driving from the passenger seat. We all need to feel engaged. To realise this we need to feel as if we are a part of the learning experience. In other words, it is doing ‘with us’, rather than ‘to us’. When students drive the learning, they are fully engaged in the thinking, doing and reflecting that occurs.
Even after students are doing the actual driving, they can still run into trouble. Support can be a necessity. Learner-driven learning can’t be just about the learner doing the driving 24/7. As skills build and problems develop, we need to provide follow-up to keep the learning — and the learner — headed in the right direction. The right direction for the learner, not for us.
One of the best things we can do to keep learning in the hands of the learner is to make it clear that we’re invested in them charting their own course, and that we’re there to help them find their way.