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Independent Dependent Learner

What Kind of Learner Am I?

Through this blog, Gary shares his moments of wonder, reflection, and learning as an early-career professional at HFLI.

As I am reading the book “Culturally Responsive Teaching & the Brain” by Zaretta L. Hammond, I have learned that there are different types of learners. I always assumed there were different types of learners, but I was not aware of the idea that there are dependent and independent learners. As I read the chapter that highlighted these two types of learners, I quickly realized that I fell into each category throughout the years.

During my time in my hometown and going to school there, I can see how I would be categorized as a dependent learner. As the book mentioned, how we learn can be affected by those we are taught by, and I would say that most of my childhood teachers set me up to be a dependent learner. Not to say that this is a bad thing, but it is something that I noticed when reading the book and not at all am I bashing the teachers who provided me with a great education. Looking back, I do not believe that they were purposely trying to teach us to become dependent learners, they just did not have the resources or knowledge about how to effectively teach their students how to be independent through effective culturally responsive teaching. I mention that they may not have known how to teach students to become independent learners because, as mentioned in the book, we were not given the right access to the content, methods, workshops, etc. that may have helped the teachers with their learning and teaching style.

Being a dependent student growing up, it was very difficult for me in college. I was used to the teacher carrying a majority of the load, but college professors give you more of the load to learn and understand on your own. This forced me to become an independent learner, after a few years in college, of course. The transition from dependent learner to independent was very difficult as I had trouble understanding the material I was learning or needed to work on, not without guidance though, but with me actually having to take the initiative and seeking the information or answers out myself. As the book points out the many different advantages that come with being an independent learner, I started to point out some of the advantages that I came across, becoming an independent learner. As I became more independent, I started to ask more questions about the material that I was given. I was the one to ask questions when I needed the answer. This gave my grades a significant boost. 

Overall, I am very grateful to have experienced and be able to call out times that I was a dependent learner and how I grew to become an independent learner. The experience was necessary to get where I am today, and very much appreciate every teacher I have met along the way.

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