The Wellness of Being Self-Directed

As a community, we frequently discuss our self-directed learning model. The learners have a strong understanding of what it means to be self-directed. They demonstrate this through goal setting, establishing a process for success, evaluating their plan, and then reflecting on their results. These steps are an important foundation for what it means to be a Village School learner. 

Independence is another character trait that we instill in our learners. We trust them to make decisions and execute their ideas. We trust them to solve problems they encounter along the way. We trust them to have freedom of choice and take ownership over the responsibility that comes with that freedom. This session, we reflected on self-directed learning, the independence our environment values, and we asked ourselves, does our self-directed learning model also depend on how self-directed we are in our relationships?

Our discussions began with the analysis of the following quote:

“Relationships are critical to becoming self-directed as no one achieves self-direction in isolation. Others contribute to our understanding of and ability to self-direct our lives. Self-direction is enhanced in social contexts and we need social skills to be able to interact with those who can help us achieve self-direction through supportive relationships. Self-direction must also be seen in the context of group direction where it is important for students to be self-directed while working in harmony with group-directed activities.” – Karl L. Squier 

At first, the learners discussed how at The Village School, we are asked to be completely independent, we are required to learn on our own. As our discussion went on, the learners all shared how certain goals would not be obtained without the guidance or support of their fellow peers. We also related this to our families and how our growth happens with the encouragement of our parents, siblings, and grandparents. The learners all began to agree that no one person can operate alone in the world, we all need each other to achieve our hopes and dreams. There is no “self” without our community. Furthermore, being completely independent and alone leaves life without meaning. 

According to C. Robert Cloninger in his book, Feeling Good: The Science of Well-being, being a self-directed person requires a person to take responsibility for their actions, their behaviors, and choices, and to accept the responsibility that in our relationships, this means that we must be seen are reliable and trustworthy. Our studios have been building trust with each other by engaging in trust building activities, like airport and high risk, low risk. We have engaged in role play scenarios about other people and how they can rebuild trust once it is broken. We have also reflected on the relationships that we have and how they bring meaning to our lives. 

As our session begins to come to a close, we will reflect on the skills that make us self-directed and how we can be more self-directed in our relationships with each other. 

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