Self Managed Learning was developed in a number of educational and organisational contexts from 1978 but, up until 1999, the focus had been on work with adults. Over this first period of 20+ years, the approach was validated using the most rigorous research evidence on how adults can best learn and on extensive evaluations of academic and organisational programmes.
In 2001, Dr Ian Cunnigham established the SML Colelge in Sussex, UK. We have since been able to show that SML, by providing genuine personalised learning, is also superior to other approaches for children and young people. This fact has been validated by independent academic research.
A simple distinction between what we are doing and what schools do could be captured in the following two sentences:
In assisting students with their learning we have no classrooms, no imposed curriculum, no imposed lessons, no imposed teaching. Students are able to learn in ways which suit them and which fit with the kind of direction they want to take in their lives.
The world of employment has changed enormously. Surveys of employers always produce the same results – school leavers are not good enough at working in modern conditions that demand team work, self discipline, creativity and innovation. The individualistic orientation of schooling discourages these very qualities. In school, if you help others in exams or with projects, it’s called cheating and you get punished for it. Yet ‘cheating’ is essential in work – meaning, helping others with their tasks.
Education needs to assist young people to learn how to get on with each other as well as learning new skills and, most importantly, how to learn for the future. In an unpredictable world the ability to learn well is the cornerstone of a fulfilling and happy life. Not just at work but in our families and communities.
The work that has occurred since 1999 includes: