Saturday, May 29, 2010

Week 8: Learner Autonomy

Dear all,

This week's topic made me reflect on my current teaching and my teaching experience in schools back in England before getting my Masters Degree. The educational system plays a big role in promoting teachers' autonomy, hence, learners' autonomy as the relationship between both is reciprocal. In England, teachers follow a curriculm with learning outcomes and the choice is left to them on the which and how to teach. This allows for creation and innovation on the part of the teacher, and a sense of responsibility to take charge of learning on the part of the student. When students start their learning journey in such a culture, they stand a better chance of becoming successful independent learners in the future.
My students in my current job come from public schools where they follow traditional methods in teaching. It's hard to try and change the trend at this stage, but we have to start somewhere and gradually despite the constraints imposed on us.

Another important issue is the learners' belifes about learning. Students learn to pass the exam, they don't learn for the sake of learning, it's a reality every teacher has to face. If we can change students' attitudes towards learnings, we have a better chance of developing autonomous learners.



  1. Dear Maha
    You are absolutely right to argue that whole education system plays a crucial role to determine the degree of learner autonomy. Your experience is similar to mine. I could see that children in UK schools work independently. I have seen them on library projects, collecting flowers, and different types of seed. Even a small child does not hesitate to put his/her idea in the classroom. But in Nepal, students are very passive in the classroom. They are given chance to interact in the classroom. Nor are they given chance to work on projects. This process has made learners very passive and they solely depend on what teachers' say. But this is true that we can change this tradition. It takes time though. We need to think about what techniques of teaching empower learners.


  2. Dear Maha,

    I agree with you that many students aim only at passing the exam with high marks. Some teachers also think in the same way and work just to enable students pass the exam. I think unless this culture is changed, the struggle to improve teaching will be vain.



  3. Dear Maha,

    all the time, the most difficult thing to do is to change something. And especially for teachers, as we work with human beings, who have feelings, conceptions, ideas... sometimes, they depend too much on the others (in this case on teachers) and it's hard to change this, as it involves mentality. However, every little step we take is a good one towards changing and progress.


  4. Dear Maha,

    What you mention in your last paragraph is what we call in my school meaningful learning. Consider reading “Meaningful Learning Theory" developed by David Ausubel”. “Attitude plays an important role in developing autonomous learners” as you said, so one of our duties as teachers is looking for strategies that promote a sense of responsibility in their own learning process. If students are able to face that point, many new outcomes will arrive as soon as possible.

    By the way, I love your picture. Their eyes are trying to share something maybe understanding. I can't decide who is the teacher. However, I can say that each one needs each other.

    Your partner,


  5. Hi Maha

    Sometimes I think we give up too easily thinking we had failed when students still continue in that old fashion. However victory comes to those who persevere. We fail to realize it takes longer to change an attitude. Thus we need more proactive teachers who would be willing to share some class control with their learners.


  6. Dear Maha,

    I agree with you in the issue that learners don't learn for the sake of learning. They learn only to pass especially school students who are not allowed to choose their subjects. They have to study all the subjects. Even if they don't like it.
    But I think that good teachers are those who can make students love the subject. When they like something, they will like to give more and therefore produce more in the subject. I think this is the most important way to increase their autonomy.


  7. Dear Maha,
    Teachers have to be the change agents, whether to change the students' learning attitude, or even to convince the educational system for a change of a curriculum which could be considered complete, relevant, varied and useful for the 21st century. But, unfortunately, the journey is a long way a head of us.
    all the best,