Can be autonomous learning effective? Do successful autonomous learners exist? Such questions have been raised by numerous scholars trying to solve the case whether autonomous education should be developed.
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However, all questions cease to exist if to take into account the statement that people “are born, self-directed learners” (qtd. in Mishan 36). It is important to recall that children are autonomous learners before they are introduced to the formal education. Therefore, there can be no doubts that autonomous learning is not only effective, but it is natural.
Children do not rack their brains trying to learn something new. As the famous advertisement put it, they JUST DO IT. Admittedly, there is no need to re-invent the wheel, it will be enough if scholars pay attention to what already exist. What makes children motivated? What learning techniques they use to know more? Moreover, having these questions in mind it is possible to become a really good autonomous learner.
Basically, one only needs to self-reflect a bit to find the appropriate solution. In fact, the most important for the autonomous learner is to know his/her strengths and weaknesses. This is often the most difficult since it requires thorough analysis of self. Of course, there is nothing impossible. After the first step have been done, it will be easy to draw goals and work out a plan for achieving them.
Of course, the autonomous learner can or even should use all possible resources to enhance his/her learning skills. Thus, motivation will not be the problem for learners who understand the aims and are eager to know more. Such learners behave in a specific way and they can be characterized by the word responsibility. Basically, I already know what it means to be a successful autonomous learner since I have in mind the basic principles of autonomous learning.
Thus, I can draw a portrait of a perfect autonomous learner. This is the learner who understands his/her strengths and weaknesses and knows what to do to improve oneself. The autonomous learner can easily define short-term and long-term goals and sees the way to achieve them.
Such kind of learner understands that autonomy does not mean loneliness or ejection and therefore uses all possible sources to gain the necessary knowledge. More so, the autonomous learner is sure that responsibility is not some divine virtue, but a definite way of life. Of course, such learners are responsible. It goes without saying that motivation is the autonomous learner’s middle name.
This kind of learner is aware of the fact that it is possible to get tired of cognition, but he/she also knows how to restore his/her learning power. It may seem that this portrait is as incomprehensible and unreachable as Mona Lisa’s depiction. However, it is possible to become a successful autonomous learner. In fact, it is normal to be an autonomous learner. Therefore, devoted learners should only make the first step.
Each student should try and eventually all of us will succeed. The autonomous learning is not something the White Rabbit’s whole, i.e. obscure and frightening. It is rather the Land of Oz which does have some obstacles, but is characterized by definite goals and available tools to achieve ones aim, i.e. to know more. Thus, the autonomous learning is not a topic for discussion, but rather a perfect solution.
Mishan, Freda. Designing Authenticity into Language Learning Materials. Portland: Intellect Books, 2005.