The Essence of Open Learning

When people hear about open learning where there’s no set curriculum, they often ask, “What do you do all day at home?” and “How do you decide what to do?” Even after explaining that these learners choose their daily activities based on their interests or needs, many find it hard to understand because they’re used to the structured education system based on age, grade, and curriculum.

Let me explain what is meant by interest-based or need-based learning. Humans are naturally curious and want to learn more. For example, an 8-9 month-old baby learns to walk and talk based on their needs. If you have observed young children, they become curious about anything and everything around them. So why should that change for people beyond a certain age group? 

Here’s a story about Dhrupad, an open learner who loves football. Dreams of becoming a professional footballer. He practices for almost 3-4 hours a day. He observes himself, analyses what else is needed and tries to get deliberate practice in his daily workouts and is constantly working on his skills. With involved skill development there comes questions like “what about other basic skills?” and “ Shouldn’t he be doing something about improving other life skills too? “

Asawari, has many interests like making sustainable body care products, art, cooking, and gardening. She spends time improving her skills in each area. She is not looking to go deep in any particular interests.

Both of them follow their interests (or needs) at their own pace, in their own space and time.

Consequently people might ask, “What’s the end result?” or “What do you do with so many interests?”
Isn’t it interesting enough that each one is pursuing and putting their heart and soul into their interests? They will make a career out of it when they feel the need for it. Or they might choose something different or add a new interest to pursue as a career.