Fostering Learning Autonomy: Why Does It Matter?

Written by Chintya Arlita

Edited by Willy Prasetya

Photo by Onyengradar via Shutterstock


“This is what Indonesia needs in the future. I am sorry, but the world doesn’t need children who are good at memorizing.” ─ Nadiem Makarim.

With the new education policy introduced by Nadiem Makarim, Merdeka Belajar, Indonesian learners are given more freedom to take charge of their learning. They no longer learn by only remembering information; rather, they are taught how to critically select relevant information and understand it.

Why is autonomy in learning essential? learners are more engaged in the classroom when they have the control of their own learning. This is caused by at least two reasons: self-efficacy and intrinsic value.

When given learning autonomy, learners are empowered to learn according to their abilities and interests. Individual growth can be achieved when learners are autonomous because they make their own decisions based on their interests and take control of their own choices. As a result, they become more confident and responsible with themselves in achieving their goals.

In addition, by learning autonomously, learners can discover values from what they have studied, which may lead to a more meaningful learning experience. When they have reached this point, they will be able to feel more satisfied in whatever they do. Even if they make mistakes in learning, the satisfaction is certain because they have the freedom to become reflective and evaluate themselves for improving themselves.

One simple yet excellent idea of giving learners a chance to be autonomous is a special day in which teachers let their learners decide what they want to learn without grading their learning. With such opportunity, learners have the full authority to optimize their potentials without any fear of judgment. Another way of instilling autonomy in learners is conducting a project-based learning. With such an approach, learners have more time to plan, explore, and experiment with whatever they need to do to complete the project. Learners who have worked autonomously tend to enjoy their learning process. There are at least two reasons for this: alignment with their passions and a sense of achievement.

Education should guide all individuals in the journey of searching for meanings to understand what they need in life. Although there is no accurate definition of a meaningful life since everyone has different backgrounds, the journey of finding a meaning is certain. To make the process meaningful, everyone should be given the freedom to take control of their learning and along the way, it can lead them to find their life purpose, which is vital for their self-worth.

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