We talk a lot about independence at The Village School. Every step in a learner’s journey in our community is meant to build independence and autonomy. By Middle School, our learners flex these muscles daily, exemplifying what it means to be a self-directed learner.
Interestingly, one of the most important things they discover, is that one of the most important parts of being a self-directed, independent learner is knowing when and how to ask for help.
“I’m not feeling confident in math right now and I’d like help.”
“I’m falling behind and feeling anxious about it. Can you help me set my goals?”
“I revised and edited my final book review. I’d like one more set of eyes on it. Can you review it with me?”
Our Quests are collaborative in nature and are designed to be completed in teams. Failing to ask for help will make it nearly impossible to complete the challenges. Everyone needs to contribute. Each person needs to be comfortable giving and receiving help.
During this session’s Rocket Quest, our Adventure learners have had to lean on each other to succeed in completing each week’s design challenge. While each week has presented a new challenge- from designing and launching a rocket to creating a battery and lighting system for a space station, the one constant component has been one simple but critical question: Can you help me?
The ability to identify and articulate a need and reach out is a critical part of being a self-directed learner. Asking for help is a strength and an important life skill. After some practice, we realize how much more we can accomplish when we work together.
As we select certain “heroes” and role models to discuss in the studios and in society at large, I’m increasingly suspicious of the stories that leave out or downplay the relationships in that person’s life. I wish more of these stories amplified those moments in which the person said, “I need help”, and showed us what happened next- that magical interplay of human relationships, of giving and receiving, of that person reaching their full potential and accomplishing their dreams because of, not in spite of, their ability to ask for help.