Goal-Directed Learning

Life can be described as a process of setting goals. People attempt to acquire new abilities, attain certain positions, acquire various objects, establish various relationships, ensure certain feelings, and acquire specific types of knowledge. They come to have these goals quite naturally; many of them are simply part of being alive. Others come from being part of a particular society. Still others are highly idiosyncratic and individualistic. Whatever their source, goals drive what we do. When we hear about something that reflects, complements, or could advance our goals, we are eager to learn more about it. All teaching should respect this simple point. When teaching relates to students' personal goals, rather than to those goals imposed upon them by school, students are eager to respond.

To leverage the power of natural learning using the teaching architectures, we need to provide goals that students will willingly adopt. We also need to provide a way for students to control the environment in which they learn, giving them the opportunity to adapt what is presented to them to their needs. They should be guided by their own interests and goals, taking actions when appropriate, receiving instruction on demand, and sitting back and reflecting on how the world is reacting to their attempts. Goal-directed learning shows how to tie together the teaching architectures by having them support students who are pursuing specific goals.

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