Self-Directed Learner - the Three Pillar Model of Self-Directedness

Self-Directed Learner - the Three Pillar Model of Self-Directedness: The Three Pillar Model for Developing Self-Directedness by Jennifer Gavriel

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The development of self-directedness is an educational conundrum that transcends medical education. My time in education with children and adults in schools and in medical education has revealed a common complaint: educators at every stage want their learners to take more responsibility and more initiative in their learning. It is a common frustration that many learners are passive in their educational role and although self-directedness is often seen as a purely adult learning concept, similar concerns are expressed in school staff rooms across the country. This book is based on the reality that we cannot assume learners will become self-directed as they mature. I have seen teenagers whose ability and motivation in directing their own learning far outstrips that of some adult learners, both in teaching and in medical education. We need to build a learning and working environment that supports and nurtures self-directedness.

As I broadened my educational experience and extended my reading in educational literature and research I began to realise that there were strategies out there to help develop self-directedness. It became apparent that this was not something that could be achieved through just one area of research. Writing this book has been a tremendous learning opportunity for me, and I hope you will find it as useful as I have. You should find a combination of new ideas and new perspectives to old ideas, as well as new knowledge; this is the opportunity to revisit prior knowledge with a different hat on. There is a lot of information within these pages: the Three Pillar Model provides an overarching structure for the book, but each subsequent chapter has been researched from specific areas. Throughout each chapter I have tried to tread the line between theory and practical, to find the balance between evidence-based education and usefulness at the front line.

I have attempted to write this book in such a way that recognises and respects the skills that you bring to your educational practice. Much of education is context specific and individualistically driven so the techniques described here are intended to become useful additions to your toolkit. Your skills and experience are needed to know when and how to deploy them. This is not an easy task, but your current expertise combined with this book will provide you with the skills and support to meet this challenge.

Though I hope you will find the style of writing accessible and the structure clear, this is not a book that you will pick up and read cover to cover in a few days. Take your time over it and give yourself the opportunity to reflect on your strengths and areas for development. I am probably biased, but I do think everything in this book is useful; the educators’ toolkit needs to be as large and diverse as possible. This is especially the case when looking to develop a complex skill like self-directedness. Of course you cannot be expected to do everything. Education is a hard task master: there is always more that can be done; a better or different way to do things; new ideas to be trialled. There are so many ideas in this book that it can at first glance seem daunting. You have to accept from the start that you cannot attempt all of these ideas at once. Instead you should read through and prioritise according to your own needs, your learner and your context. Try out a few ideas and let them bed in, then return to look through the model again and see if there is something else to try. Take a step-wise approach to constructing an environment and improving your skills to develop self-directed learners.

Having said all of this, the content of this book doesn’t represent everything. Not even close. There is so much more out there and I hope that if you find something of particular interest you will also find the references you need to follow up in greater depth. I repeatedly had to restrain myself and cease typing mid-flow to prevent myself going too far with each specific point. I am (obviously) passionate about education and the writing of this book has been an edifying experience for me. Pulling together the various and diverse ideas from different areas of research has been both useful and satisfying. I hope you gain as much as I have and that you find enough breadth and depth to meet your specific needs.

And one last thing: I have mistyped self-directed as elfs-directed so many times in writing this book that I am beginning to suspect the elves may actually be up to something.



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