“Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holy curiosity. Make your life worth living.”
This wisdom from arguably one of mankind’s sharpest minds can have more than one interpretation, and one that clearly stands out implicates the importance of self-exploration in one’s long and exciting journey on the path of knowledge acquisition.
Society’s increased focus on ‘value-oriented formal education’ has resulted in several constructive debates on teaching methodologies, relevance of course content, healthy ratio of theory and practical education, and especially an acknowledgement of influence of peer learning on the formative years of a child. These new expectations from academics have certainly boded well with the education sector in general, with many innovative solutions being developed to cater to these expectations. But, one concept that is conspicuously low-key in these discussions is the time tested ‘art’ of self-study.
Unlike the ‘tried and tested’ method of peer-learning, self-study is an inherently solitary activity. Perhaps this solitary (or non-social) virtue of self-learning has been one of the reasons why it has never been a forefront of new-age education solutions. But it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to understand the significance of self-learning. For either a curious child or a young student or for that matter, a life-long explorer, it is perhaps the most effective cure for curiosity. Educationalists and education providers who genuinely support student welfare, are adopting mature teaching methodologies, provisioning intuitive study-material and even leveraging teaching aids, but they are no substitute to the effort a learner puts in exploring things on one’s own. In fact, self-study is the essential glue to hold these teaching tools together, and to enable the student to get the desired benefit from these advancements.
Be it self-learning or being taught, most students have their unique ways of learning. Though some pedagogical methods like Montessori education aim to groom the children as self-sufficient learners, mainstream education doesn’t teach the art of self-study. Children often have to device their own innovative methods to master their subjects at a very young age. Since each student’s style (of self-learning) is an extension of their unique personality, devising one’s own method is often a smart of discovering things. But, a guided approach to expose children to self-study methodologies and related technology aids like – self-paced tutorial software, mini-labs, game-oriented learning products – will allow them to be aware of their appropriate learning styles at a very young age. A child, by nature, is a curious being, and a little guidance in the art of self-study can allow them to leverage this inherent curiosity for academic learning.
Rather than viewing self-study as a necessary, but non-social side of learning, it should be embraced as the foundation of life-long learning that defines our standards of a productive life.