Here is a quote from Tim Murphey on learner autonomy and self-instruction:
“I believe most young people are responsible only when they are given the freedom to develop responsibility” (Tim Murphey, 1990, Teaching One to One, Longman)
This quote immediately struck home as I read it. Haven’t we ever told our students or haven’t our parents and teachers ever told us at some point of educational or upbringing process that now it’s time to be responsible for your own studying, decisions and life while they have rarely or ever given us the chance of self-expression, independent work, decision-making and problem-solving or taught us how to do it? Sometimes it very easy to overlook the moment, when trying to do our best, we become too overbearing raising kids and teaching students. So there is no point in expecting your kinds or students to become independent learners and personalities if you haven’t taught them to be so. That’s why we need to incorporate self-instruction, self-study and creativity enhancing activities into our teaching and upbrining.
After stating his belief on students’ responsibility in learning, Tim Murphey goes on to expand his idea:
“Practice in making their own pedagogical decisions is necessary if we ultimately want them to become efficient learners, independent of merely required learning. When students realise that finally they are in control of what and how they learn, they become many times over more powerful in teaching themselves than the schools with which they begin. Then when they do choose to study in a school, with a 1/1 teacher, with a computer or library, or simply by themselves, it is because they have found it to be the best configuration for them to learn in at the time, not simply because there is only one choice available.” (Murphey, 1990)
Slowly but steadily we need to guide our children and learners towards becoming more indepentent in making their decisions concerning their study, work, friendships or life. However, we should always remember that there will always be learners who will readily embrace the opportunities we provide them with and there will always be those who would be reluctant to take responsibility. So, as Tim Murphey recommends, we “should be prepared to lead as much as necessary, but it is worth periodically seeing if they [learners] can take on more and more responsibility.” (Murpehy, 1990)