The principles of student-directed learning go back at least as far as John Dewey. However, the U.S. did such as good job in the 1890’s of creating the mass production oriented system of education that it has been the widely accepted norm ever since. Nevertheless, a few pioneering educators have recognized the limitations of the old system in today’s innovation economy and experimented with school or network-wide student-directed models for over 10 years.
Select the various tabs to view videos on representative models. The most advanced implementations with the best results have been limited to new programs and pioneering schools started essentially from scratch. The examples here are good models to show what can be done, although even here the implementations vary widely between the different schools. A few school districts are beginning to experiment with elements of student-directed learning on a more limited scale. Here we present a wide variety of those to give an idea of progress.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of “improvements” being tried within education today, even those often called “project-based learning” or “personalized learning,” fall way short of the examples here. True student-directed learning, that helps students understand and develop their own strengths and become independent thinkers, requires a complete paradigm shift from the methods that are familiar to educators today.