Our family has had a wonderful weekend with family and friends back in Lubbock, Texas. Of the four or five times we’ve visited since moving to Oklahoma almost three years ago, this is the first time my wife has said “it doesn’t feel like home anymore.” It doesn’t feel like home to me either, although it is wonderful to be back in familiar places and among old friends. We’re Okies, and we’re proud of it. We’ve found Oklahoma to be our own “promised land,” and we’re still “staking our claim” there. It’s interesting how long it takes to process change and come to terms with a geographic move. The seasons of life change, but often our minds are slow to adapt.
Today at lunch, I had a wonderful conversation with one of my good friends now in his first year of law school at Texas Tech, and another friend who is a family practice doctor here in Lubbock. We were discussing the differences in the teaching approaches of medical school versus law school. Both of them agreed that a main focus of “professional schools” like law and medical schools is getting students to be able to teach themselves and become almost entirely self-directed in their learning. Professors are there to assess learning and enhance it with supplements, but the VAST majority of learning takes place independently, “in the textbook.” Amidst his four classes, my friend in law school reads about 100 pages per night, every night. Expectations are high, and NOTHING is “spoon fed.”
This conversation got me thinking about K-12 education, of course, and how many students in many classrooms today have been conditioned to expect “spoon feeding” when it comes to formal learning contexts. It made me wonder the degree to which the goal of creating self-directed learners should NOT be limited only to professional, graduate school contexts, but included in ALL learning situations.
Dependent learners remain limited learners. Unbounded possibilities beckon to those who learn to fish for themselves in the ocean of ideas which is our world.
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