Self-Directed Learning:
What It Is and 11 Reasons Your Child Will Love It

We’ve all been there. Imprisoned in your chair, sitting in a room listening to a speaker drone on for what seems like days. All you can think is, “WHEN WILL THIS END.”

Maybe it was at your last staff meeting. 

Or maybe your staff meetings are pretty great, but it’s the rest of the week that seems to drag on and on as you slog through meaningless tasks after meaningless tasks.

The reality is that the overwhelming majority of students feel like this every single day at school.

Self-directed learning can help. 

Will it change a miserable job into the highlight of your career? 

Probably not, but it will help you to become better at your job every day and have more fun while doing it.

Will it make your child love school so much that you literally have to drag them out of the classroom at the end of the day? 

Actually, yes, it might. We’ve seen it before. It will certainly help your child learn faster and with more enjoyment. 

Want proof? Read the story of this boy, who says, 


“I have never been this excited to learn English before.”

Sounds pretty good, eh? And the kicker is that we’re all already self-directed learners on some level.

Think of the last time you learned something because you wanted to. Because you enjoyed it. It could be tennis, piano, creative writing, singing, fixing a car, programming, woodworking…anything.

You probably devoted hours of practice, planning, and research to this project and yet it never really felt like work.

That’s the potential of self-directed learning. And in a moment when we take a peek at some of the other benefits of being a self-directed learner, you’ll wonder why you ever did it any other way.

But before we go any further, maybe we should get a definition so that we’re all on the same page here:

“In its broadest meaning, ’self-directed learning’ describes a process by which individuals take the initiative, with or without the assistance of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identify human and material resources for learning, choosing and implement appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.” (M. Knowles, Principles of Androgogy, 1972)

Self-directed learning…according to some smart person somewhere. (Just kidding–Malcolm Knowles was an educational pioneer of the 20th century. This guy knew his stuff.)

Self-directed learning is effective because it guarantees that students interact with the material (unlike traditional classrooms and lectures).

It taps into the innate human desire to explore the unknown, learn the foreign, and test the unfamiliar.

And a funny thing tends to happen when you design and engage in your own learning process… Before you know it, you’re learning because it’s fun. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that you never seem to get while listening to others speak.

When this shift clicks into place–when students pursue learning because it is fun–everything changes. 

  • School is no longer something to endure, but a precious opportunity to improve yourself each day.


  • Homework is no longer a chore, but a chance to cement in your mind the interesting nuggets of knowledge you’ve recently picked up.


  • And exams are no longer stress-magnets, but a chance to show off your new skills and receive recognition for them.

Pretty different from the way most of us grew up thinking about school…


And now for the fun part. Let’s have a look at some of the many advantages of being a self-directed learner:


  1. Determining your strengths and weaknesses and how to magnify or reduce them.
  2. Developing your ability to set goals for yourself and achieve them.
  3. Confidently facing obstacles to success and solving problems.
  4. Optimizing your specific learning style, using what works for YOU.
  5. Genuinely enjoying your work.
  6. Feeling a deep sense of accomplishment when you reach a milestone or master a new skill.
  7. Managing your projects and your time efficiently.
  8. Adopting the mindset that you can achieve just about anything you set your mind to do.
  9. Increasing your capacity to think creatively and generate new ideas.
  10. Learning to evaluate yourself and learn from your mistakes.
  11. Taking charge of your future.

And the icing on the cake is that these are all skills that will help you throughout your entire life!

Students Happy Learning

Self-directed learning is at the core of Eye Level’s enrichment classes because we want to prepare students for success in school and in life. 

And after 41 years of teaching, we know that the best way to do that is to make the entire experience of learning as personal and individualized as possible.

Would you like to see a classroom of self-directed learners in action? 


Stop by any of our centers and see what it’s all about! 


We’ll be happy to show you around, and we’ll even give your child a free diagnostic test and address any questions or concerns you have during our free consultation.

We look forward to meeting you!


What is Self-Directed Learning and 11 Reasons Your Child Will Love It