Why it’s important for students to develop independent learning skills

Lydia Atieno

The desire for every teacher is to see their learners excel, not only in academic work but also outside school environment. However, education experts believe that among many factors that lead to achieving this, is helping and working with students on how to develop independent leaning skills.

According to Moses Kalisa, an English teacher at Saint Patrick School in Kicukiro, making students independent, especially when it comes to academic work, does not only save the teacher from being overworked but also makes students become independent even outside school environment.

“When a student is taught how to learn and do things on their own, it helps them develop essential social skills and development in general,” he says.

How to achieve this

Jackyline Irabagiza, a matron and counselor at Martyrs school in Remera, says, as an instructor, it’s better to shift from teaching directly to more of coaching your students on how to handle or tackle some lessons, especially in your absence.

This, she believes, can be achieved through encouraging learners to form groups that will see them participate in throughout the entire lesson.

On the other hand, Irabagiza says that as a teacher, it’s ideal to pick certain topics depending on what you think your students have understood most, and then come up with questions so that learners can learn how to tackle for themselves.

“This helps learners to develop good attitude towards learning as they will want to explore things for themselves, which will boost their morale when it comes to handling specific things either academically or socially,” she adds.

Another important aspect when it comes to training students to be independent, Elias Ndayisaba, a teacher at Mother Mary Complex School in Kibagabaga notes that such students are in better position to take responsibility for their own learning as well as at home, when left with their younger siblings or in the absence of their parents.

He however adds that teachers should also encourage them on how to set goals and what they want to achieve as far as education is concerned.

Ndayisaba explains that this can start by learners coming up with schedule which allows them to be involved in almost all activities related to school work.

“It’s through this that they will learn how to do their own things without being followed or pushed to do. And this should be encouraged right from the beginning so that the learner grow up knowing what they are supposed to do when and how,” he says.

Why it’s important

According to Kalisa, when teachers help students to become independent, it help them to develop their own ideas, rather than always looking to teachers on everything; which at the end will see such learners as problems solvers even in future.

Alternatively, he says that it’s through this kind of learning that will help students learn on how to work together.

“Through collaboration, students get an opportunity to learn from their peers the case which can’t happen when such students are only taught by their teachers. Also, letting them be part of lesson planning is ideal as it will make them feel they have responsibility for their own learning,” he says.

On the other hand, Ndayisaba feels that instilling learners with independent learning skills help them to be great thinkers and leaders as well.

“It’s through this that students can come up with different ideas based on personal experience and observation thus coming up with solutions to the problems being solved,” he says.

Jean Marie Habimana,a Kigali based mentor believes that when a learner is in an environment where they are spoon-fed in almost everything, they will become a burden not only to teachers but to the society when they come outside school environment.

“This limits them in many ways including the way they think, reason or even making decision of their own. This will always make them seek support and assistance from those whom they think could be in a position to help them,” he says.



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