What does it mean to be self reliant? As per the Oxford English Dictionary, self reliance is the condition of being reliant on one's own resources and abilities rather than those of others. This may be in terms of money, resources, mental health, etc. So what does being self reliant mean for a student? Well, self reliance when it comes to students does not necessarily mean that they are financially independent - there is no way that young students can work and earn money without getting in trouble with the law or with it interfering with their studies. What self reliance in terms of students means is that the student is able to take care of their own education with only guidance from their teachers and parents. However, a student requires guidance to become academically independent, and the role of the teacher is quintessential to this - so much so that it can make or break the student’s intentions to do so. However, to understand what self reliance truly means, we need to understand what dependence is.
What is Dependence
Simply put, dependence is the opposite of self-reliance. Again, as mentioned above, a student cannot be independent in every sense of the term. It depends on how old they are, how qualified they are, and how much time they might have on their hands. Here, dependence does not mean dependence on parents for money or dependence on teachers for knowledge. It also does not mean the use of class notes to study. Dependence here means relying exclusively on the instruction of the teacher to study. This may also not seem like much on the surface, but this form of dependence can be detrimental to a student’s long-term academic success. The goal of education is to mould an individual into a free-thinking, progressive, intellectual, and responsible citizen of the world, and all of this starts from their immediate environment. If students don’t start to learn self reliance at the school level, they will find it extremely difficult to cope with the increasing responsibilities of adulthood. So, removing dependence on teachers for instructions needs to be slowly removed from a student’s life for them to progress in their future endeavors.
Symptoms of a Dependent Mindset
There are certain things that can raise a red flag when it comes to identifying whether a student is independent or not. These may be different in different students, but there are a few fundamental similarities between such students. These are discussed below:
Low Self Esteem and Immediate Complacency
This is the biggest sign of dependence perceivable. Low self esteem is a direct result of being too dependent on someone else for something as important as academics.
Lack of Direction
When a student does not know what to do when faced with making choices, especially when it comes to making important life decisions such as what electives or courses to opt for, it shows that the student is uncertain about their own decisions and signifies dependence.
A Sense of Perceived Obligation
If a student feels like they have an obligation to obey or listen to each and every person they come across, it can be because they perceive that they need to because they do not value their own time and considers the other person to be more important, as a result of which they think they are obligated to listen to them.
Blind Belief in Others
This is also a pretty common theme that runs in such students. Dependent students tend to blindly believe something simply because it comes from someone or a source that they trust.
How to Help Students Become Self Reliant
Now that we know what the red flags of dependence are, let us look at how teachers can help students become independent in their own right.
Bridging the Technology Gap
Digital literacy can help students with self reliance a lot. As classes become online, the importance of taking one’s education into their own hands is becoming greater by the day. Such autonomy can be achieved only if the teacher is willing to levy the responsibility of education onto the student slowly while at the same time, offering them all the required information on how to go about doing so.
The main barrier towards a student becoming academically independent is a ceiling to their self-esteem. While narcissism is not considered productive in any field, one can never have enough self-esteem. It is the biggest driving factor behind students taking their own decisions. Teachers need to give them the confidence to make their own decisions, especially when it comes to making academic decisions. They should know that whatever decision they make is what matters and that if they need any help regarding that choice, they can contact their teacher.
Encouraging Active Learning
This is the most effective way of making students self reliant. Make them the center of the lesson, thereby making sure that they learn from one another through collaboration. Active learning is a great way for students to feel what it is like to take their education into their own hands and promote that culture until they are truly academically self reliant.
Being self reliant is a very important part of growing as an individual, and it needs to be practiced from the time they are students. Teachers need to take an active role in improving this quality in their students until they can confidently make decisions about their own academic life and it is paramount that they completely abstain from any quizzacious or demotivating remarks at any time of their training.