Are you the “owner” of your own learning?

This is a fascinating post by Kirsten Olson:

“If you were a learning entrepreneur, you would consider school part of your “balanced portfolio” of learning experiences, but one and only one venue for learning some kinds of things.  If you were a learning entrepreneur, you would craft a lifelong learning plan that helped you chart your cognitive, social and practical learning goals over your lifespan.  (These goals would change a lot, but you’d still have a view of them year to year.)  If you were a learning entrepreneur, you would see yourself as the manager of your own learning, authorized to use hundreds of different tools to get the information and skills you need, and you’d have a sense of how and when to ask for help.  If you were a learning entrepreneur, you would understand the importance of finding mentors and key supporters to challenge you to get good at what you are doing, and you would encourage others to step up into their own learning.  If you were a learning entrepreneur, you would think of every day as an exciting opportunity to learn something.”

Olson points out that, “Back in the 1970s, before the Internet, social media and social entrepreneurship, one of most profound critics of education ever, Ivan Illich, described something he called learning webs.  In a deschooled life, Illich proposed, individual learners would educate themselves through apprenticeships and communities of practice, in “webs of learning,” created by the learner and his or her larger community. We are fooled, Illich felt, by the perceived need to be educated in school–education as an institution serves its own purposes and is intent on insuring its own survival, whatever the costs to the learner.”

It might be unimaginable for Illich, who died in 2002, to fathom just how much learning is available on the web today (I say “might” instead of “would” because after all Illich was a visionary and by the end of his life he may have surmised the implications of the web). In any case the question that would need to be answered in order for educational institutions to embrace the concept of the learning entrepreneur is what mechanisms would need to be put in place so that the guidance of a teacher can be most effective while at the same time allowing the student to feel ownership in regards to what’s being learned?

Photo: Ivan Illich

Read the entire post here.

Your thoughts?

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