Self-paced. Interactive. Collaborative. These are words we hear a lot in the online learning system community. All well and good, depending on the context–whether it be online courseware, LMS-hosted courses, or traditional learning systems. But then there’s “self-guided,” a reference to a learning style with more dubious implications for young people. Self-discipline and self-guidance are traits we tend to glorify in education, but maybe it’s time we rethink their appeal.
According to Alfie Kohn’s article, “Why Self-Discipline is Overrated: The (Troubling) Theory and Practice of Control from Within,” our idea of self-discipline in learning systems is based on unrealistic conceptions of personality and motivation, as well as controversial assumptions about human nature. He writes that while self-discipline and self-control may have an important place among other desirable traits in young people, their status is inappropriately high compared to the rest. In looking at a whole person, strong self-discipline may even have negative ramifications.
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