A Learner-Driven School

Why a Learner-Driven School is a Long Term Investment in Your Child…

If you haven’t read my first article titled ‘How Not Answering Questions Builds a Learner-Driven Environment’, you might want to do that first. In that piece, I established the characteristics of a learner-driven school and the results produced in this unique educational method. Learners gain the self confidence, initiative, and resourcefulness to resist a victim mindset and take charge not only of their own learning experience, but their whole life. If you pay attention for even a few minutes to our typical American culture, you can see that a victim mindset appears to have taken over large parts of society, not just among teen agers but politicians, celebrities, educators, and even parents. The Karpman Drama Triangle perfectly describes the anti-symbiotic connection between the three roles of victim, rescuer, and persecutor. The majority of our culture today has decided to camp out on the inside of this drama triangle and those suffering the most are the children, who watch and learn how to interact with the society around them.

A learner-driven school exists to combat this victim mindset by seeking to empower young people to take the lessons learned from taking charge of their own education and then transferring those lessons to every other pursuit in their life from friendships, to personal development goals, to self care. But these lessons are not learned over night. They are hard fought over weeks, months, and even years in the hearts and minds of both ourselves and our children.

There are countless opportunities for a student in a learner-driven school to react with defeatism and irritation towards an adult who won’t solve a problem for them. From mom not packing the right food for lunch, to the coach who makes the players stay in their circle of responsibility, to a guide who refuses to spoon feed answers to legitimate questions, it is all a part of a big picture plan to invest in the long term growth, development, and confidence of our learners. Obstacles and roadblocks are inevitable in every area of life and empowering our children to know how to overcome may be one of the greatest gifts we can offer as parents and guides. Knowing that we trust them to make good use of the countless resources and answers available to them grows a level of personal responsibility that will truly allow them to grow in emotional and intellectual intelligence. But it takes time, sometimes a lot of time. And sometimes, it gets worse before it gets better. A victim mindset can be akin to a fire breathing dragon in the heart and mind of a learner. And when the tail of the dragon is cut off, sometimes the dragon fights all the harder before it finally gives in. In a learner, this may look like a short-term academic backslide. It may manifest as an apathetic or even aggressive response to obstacles in math, language, or even friendship conflict. The learner who continually forgets what 8 times 7 is or how to spell ‘throughout’ and wants a parent or guide to give a quick answer may express great irritation when the adult requires them to find the answer themselves. But later, that same learner will develop strategies and methods to overcome any type of obstacle, without an adult stepping in to rescue.

Apathetic indifference, resistance, mediocre excuses, distractions, victimhood, and castigation of blame are some of the charisterics that will absolutely sabotage not only academic success, but any form of social, emotional, and practical success in the life of any learner. These weeds take time to root out and a learner-driven environment is perfectly designed to do that, as long as the adults involved are willing to stay the course and patiently let the process do its job. What may appear to be a loss of control over the learning process is actually a gain of control and personal responsibility in the life of the learner.

Simply telling the learners what they need to know and how to do it feels more comfortable because it is closer to our own learning experience, but is that what is truly best? There is a God-given, internal drive in every human to want to grow, develop, and thrive. But our systems can snuff that out so quickly that it appears to have never existed. A wise practicing of a learner-driven educational method may take time but it is the quickest way I have found to fostering the grit and resilience every learner needs to resist a victim mindset, embrace a creator mindset and find a calling that will change the world. Is it worth the struggle? Is it worth the wait?