The third one both authors add is one who is also quite popular lately, well, for the past decades actually. Recently it popped up in the new book by Peter Gray. The thinking is that we should use self-directed and self-determined learning in education. Kirschner & van Merriënboer link this need to the move we made away from a society in which authority is accepted and even appreciated into one where it is questioned and where we feel that we are best at determining what we do and how we should do it. I myself would place it much earlier, as it is already present in the romantic reaction to modernity, but I do think it is a valid argument.
The arguments that would support the idea of self-directed learning are sadly absent as Kirschner & van Merriënboer describe:
- Learners are not always successful controlling their own learning,
- The second problem is that learners often choose what they prefer,
- People appreciate having the opportunity to make some choices, but the more options that they have to choose from, the more frustrating it is to make the choice (aka the paradox of choice).
This article takes a critical look at three pervasive urban legends in education about the nature of learners, learning, and teaching and looks at what educational and psychological research has to say about them. The three legends can be seen as variations on one central theme, namely, that it is the learner who knows best and that she or he should be the controlling force in her or his learning. The first legend is one of learners as digital natives who form a generation of students knowing by nature how to learn from new media, and for whom “old” media and methods used in teaching/learning no longer work. The second legend is the widespread belief that learners have specific learning styles and that education should be individualized to the extent that the pedagogy of teaching/learning is matched to the preferred style of the learner. The final legend is that learners ought to be seen as self-educators who should be given maximum control over what they are learning and their learning trajectory. It concludes with a possible reason why these legends have taken hold, are so pervasive, and are so difficult to eradicate.