On January 27, 2016 I had the opportunity to present a keynote speech to the 150 staff at Ballarat Grammar School. The title (above) provided great scope to investigate the psychology and practicality of generating a rich self-directed learning environment.
Few understandings are more crucial for educators than motivation. Motivation drives our choices and actions. The ‘fuel’ of human behaviour, it creates in us a desire to persist beyond the boundaries of comfort, leading to achievement greater than previously thought possible. Intrinsic motivation is linked with higher quality learning. Students are less easily distracted, take more initiative, and persist for longer with their learning. To condition the learning environment for intrinsic motivation to flourish, observe this simple tripartite model: competence, autonomy and relationship. Competence involves a self-belief that one can make progress. When people think they are no good at something, and not getting any better, they often stop trying and give up. Relationship refers to the fact that students who perceive their teachers as being cold and uncaring experience lower levels of motivation. Students therefore need to know that we like them, respect and value them. Autonomy is about personal volition. It includes finding opportunities to provide students with choice when appropriate and empowering students to drive their own learning as much as possible. This is where mindset and metacognition comes in. In the long run, learners with a growth-mindset achieve more that those who believe their ability is more due to talent than work ethic (fixed-mindset). Metacognition includes higher order learning skills, learning driven by curiosity and Socratic questioning.
This is but a brief overview of the presentation, designed to have teachers thinking about their pedagogy in relationship to learning outcomes. I spoke for 75 minutes to the BGS R-12 staff, but I present whole day courses on this material (Australia all states – dates in March and May 2016, UK Sept/Oct 2016). Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Also, my book ‘Learning Strategies for Musical Success’ relates this general learning psychology to a more specific music education context. This is available through me, Amazon, and stores across the UK.