Schools are under serious re-evaluation and now is the perfect time to revamp an outdated system. Smart people are recreating our institutions from the inside and alternatives are evolving outside of the system. More people are rethinking all of their personal learning choices.
And therein lies the opportunity and the challenge! Being your own boss and your own guide comes with a lot of responsibility and it’s very likely that no one has taught you the skills you need to guide yourself through the fairy land of opportunity and personal freedom.
But being independent and self-directed, whether as a student, an entrepreneur, and artist or a parent requires new skills. The great thing is the same skills needed for being an autodidact and self-directed learner are the same skills which will help young people succeed in college should they chose to go that route.
The reality is most of us will change jobs by choice or necessity more than any other generation. It’s hard to even imagine how quickly new skills will be needed for our kids, kids. The bottom line is everyone will need to be a life-long learner. And content is simply no longer king.
As a consultant for families, change-agent and speaker on the future of education, and the mother of two independently educated kids, what I care most about is the kids loves of learning and their ability to learn whatever they want or need. Learning is the essence and center of my focus because I believe it will be important in every circumstance in future years and for future generations.
MetaLearning is a collection of skills, self-awareness, self-empowerment, knowledge and tools needed to be a fully engaged and activated learner.
MetaLearning is the foundation for self-direction in learning and in life. Some of the specific skills needed are: goal-setting, time-management, self-efficacy, the ability to develop support systems, create relationships with mentors, self-advocacy skills, communication skills and other interpersonal skills, intra-personal skills, writing ability, self-evaluation and tracking abilities, data analysis awareness, skills of iterating so you can go back and revisit your meta-learning action plan.
I’ve had a few aha moments over the years in my role as parent, edu-disruptor and advocate of personal freedom. Once a young woman, who was independently educated, told me that the most important thing she got from her education was the confidence that, no matter what she wish to learn she had the ability and skills to learn it. Profound! What a shift and reminder of what I want for my kids. It hit me that, this was in fact the very reason I’d taken them out of school.
More recently I had a conversation with the fellow of a prestigious grant program who told me that it’s great to have such programs but the problem is they assume that everyone is self-directed but (he looked me straight in the eye) and said “but we’re not”. I was stopped in my tracks.
All of us need a new set of skills that’s are mostly neglected. I’m calling those skills metalearning and meta-life skills.
What an irony. So many of us, especially the Millenial Generation, want freedom to become a self directed person but with it comes the awareness that we don’t always have the skills we need to utilize it; Being self-directed is actually the most important and foundational skill.
The beauty is that it if you have these skills they will support your success in any circumstance whether in an institution or outside of one.
Why is it important
Up until recently, and perhaps even now in schools, a focus on higher-order thinking skills has been reserved for higher-ed aged learners. For the most part many don’t seem to believe that children are able to learn about their own learning until they’re older and I believe that is a waste and a missed opportunity. Kids should learn how to be aware of their own learning process, and empowered by it, as early as possible.
It’s increasingly important for people who have the opportunity to learn outside of institutions to be able to take advantage of it. On the other side of the coin if you have those same skills you have more opportunity to be successful in an institution. You need it whether you’re going to be an independent learner or whether you’re going to navigate the school system after investing many thousands of dollars in an institution. Why even spend that money and that time if you do not have the ability to be self-directed.
Our institutions limit us so we tear them down, create alternatives and then we flounder until we realize that we are missing big pieces. If we can find ways to address those skills and develop self-direction we can be successful anywhere. It’s kind of like it journey and I’m sure there’s a metaphor for it. Something like if you break out of the institutions that limits you too create your own empowerment and freedom and you’re free anyway regardless of what might have previously limited you. Is it the hero’s journey?