3 Benefits of Letting Kids Learn On Their Own

“So what about this way?” A student had just figured out on their own how to calculate probability of rolling the sum of 7 with two die. This student had figured out through messy trial and error along with a long list of numbers how the probability should be done. It was a messy and inefficient process but the student was so proud they showed everyone in class.

“Non-directive teaching has profound implications which even those who accept this point of view cannot at present fully fathom. It’s importance goes beyond the classroom and extends to every area where human beings communicate and try to live with one another.”

-Carl R. Rodgers

Non-directive teaching can be loosely thought of as letting kids learn on their own while the instructor provides guidance from the sidelines. The teacher is thought of as a resource only.

Benefit 1: Students Become Powerful Learners

In a paper on non-directive learning in China the researcher found when teachers and learners have an equal role in lessons and learners have more control about how they learn they learn better. Not only are the lessons more enjoyable for the learner but the paper shows the learners became more fluent in the subject area.

Benefit 2: Students Feel Emotionally Safe

In an article by Molly Petersen she states “Non-directive teaching fosters an emotionally safe environment where students are free to express themselves in conversation with the teacher because their thoughts and feelings are validated and respected by the teacher.”

Students no longer feel like subservient passive learners but instead as contributors. Students feel safe to express their ideas because the teacher or “master” is sidelined. There is no longer a hierarchy of correctness. Students feel as though their ideas matter.

Benefit 3: Builds Self-Confidence

In a study by Joan Putz where she examined the effects of non-directive teaching on improving writing skills of college freshmen, she found not only did the final assessments yield desired results but the students liked it better. The students surveyed at the end of the course reported liking the non-directive approach better because it made them feel better.

So students can learn and feel good about it? Sounds like a win win.

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  1. I totally agree! It’s unfortunate that state-mandated tests dictate curriculum and lead to teaching for the test as opposed to the joy of learning. Thanks for sharing! 🙂


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