Autonomy and Responsibility: Same or Different?

A major principle of autonomous learning is that students should take responsibility for their own learning; and a common complaint is that students from Confucian-heritage cultures are particularly resistant to this idea, and overly dependent on their teachers. My experience of teaching such students has led me to question this identification of responsibility with autonomy. They take responsibility for persevering with their studies under very difficult conditions; and what looks, to western eyes, like avoiding responsibility for designing their own program of learning is, from another perspective, accepting responsibility for learning from people with more knowledge and experience. If they wish us to correct all their errors, this may be seen as over-dependent; but, from another perspective, it is taking responsibility for seeking help when they need it and for learning from their mistakes. We may prefer that they learn according to our values and our budgets; but, by uncoupling the idea of responsibility from the idea of autonomy, we can better appreciate the responsibilities our students take on, at the same time as we introduce them to the strategies of autonomous learning.

Publication Source Information
Kate Chanock
Year of publication: 
Place of publication; Publisher: 
Auckland; Independent Learning Association.
Title of Journal, Edited book or Conference and Page numbers: 
Supporting independent learning in the 21st century. Proceedings of the inaugural conference of the Independent Learning Association, University of Melbourne September 13-14, 2003
H. Reinders
J. Jones-Parry
H. Anderson
M. Hobbs
ISSN: 1176-7480
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