Week One: Why #crit101? & in(ter)dependent learning.

Originally published here.

The reason I'm participating in critical skills 101 is because I want to develop my skills for becoming a self-critical, reflective and a more independent learner as a whole. I also found that the jump between GCSEs and A-levels was greater because my skill range wasn't as broad or as well developed and I don't want this to be a factor that holds me back at University. Therefore I want to achieve a strong foundation of skills that will support my learning at University both in terms of the compulsory reading and learning but also the self investigation and exploration into different topics to develop me as a learner. Also the skills that I will develop within this course are transferable across different area and therefore the skills that I will gain are not just for university but the later on, with a career in an industry.

I define independent learning as the process in which one explores, develops and becomes critical of a topic that they have researched and investigated to broaden their own knowledge and interests. Independent learning is not about completing tasks which are set for you but setting tasks to complete yourself. It's about discussing and collaborating on ideas as a group as much as is about developing your own thoughts and ideas. I believe that the main characteristic of an independent learner is to be someone that is interested and exploring new avenues, new areas of investigation outside of their own compulsory learning within an institution. Most of all it is about finding pleasure and enjoyment in learning and developing one's own self.

I don't believe people are born with the skills to become an in(ter)dependent learner, but I also don't believe that you can learn to become an in(ter)dependent learner either. It is not a process that can be broken down in stages, nor is it a process that can be taught. It is a process that one develops through trial and experimentation, not being afraid to get things wrong but learning from ones own mistakes. It's about finding what works best for yourself and then developing that to achieve independent learning. Individuals can be supported and guided to become an in(ter)dependent learner, but at the end of the day it is about what works best for one individual and developing those strengths to achieve a holistic learning approach.