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Ever heard of “SDL”. No! I’m not talking about a daytime version of Saturday night live, I’m talking about a style of teaching. It’s called Self-directed learning. It came on the scene when Maurice Gibbons published a book titled, “Walk-about: Searching for the Right Passage from Childhood to School.” The year? 1974, which just happened to be the same year that I entered the ninth grade at Jacksonville Junior High School.

Now in “SDL” the individual takes the initiative and the responsibility for what occurs. Individuals select, manage, and assess their own learning activities, which can be pursued at any time, in any place, through any means, at any age. Teaching emphasizes SDL skills, processes, and systems rather than content coverage and tests. For the individual, SDL involves initiating personal challenge activities and developing the personal qualities to pursue them successfully.

And you are looking at someone has experienced SDL. Let me rephrase that: You’re looking at some one who was victimized by SDL. O yes, I walked into my Algrebra class and became part of an SDL experiment. We were told that we were going to be “self-directed.” We would move at our own pace, manage our own learning and assess our own learning activities. If we wanted to do 10 problems that day we could. If we wanted to do one problem that day we could. If we’d rather sit there and play paper football that day, we could.

So here I am a ninth grade boy with friends to talk to and girls to impress. (OK, I wasn’t too impressive, but its my story!) So here’s my dilemma: algebra problems or paper football. Hmm, wonder which I should choose? Well, I’ll give you one guess! That’s right, I became a super, paper bowl champ, and algebra waited until the 10th grade!

Now, I’m sure Maurice might say that I wasn’t handled correctly and maybe he’d be right. My purpose is not to prove to you how bad SDL is, it is simply to illustrate this one principle: Every person you know needs limits; a lack of accountability sabotages excellence.

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