Opportunity for Self-Direction

self direction

Rosie the Riveter “We Can Do It!” Cartoon

I am pretty stoked to take Russ and Ike’s advanced class. I learned more pragmatic and immediately useful information in their first class than just about any other class I’ve taken at WSU.  As I was attempting to understand how to properly write this, our first blog assignment, I read some of the previous blog posts from last semester. It was pretty shocking to see how quickly the train derailed as the class was allowed some self-direction. In other words the students blamed the structure for the chaos they themselves created. I find this interesting. Ike and Russ always have instruction for their expectations clearly articulated somewhere, although sometimes it requires a little investigation to get the information.

Self-Direction Inspires Autonomy

These guys offer a relaxed and informal setting to their class, allowing us to discover and engage with our studies in a self-directed manner. This is a rare quality at WSU, or at Sinclair (these being my only first hand experiences) although I suspect it is a rare quality at any college. It may require us to focus a little more to realize the full impact of the knowledge they are providing, but we are honing our skills in self-direction. I can tell you from life experience this is a highly valued skill in any workplace environment. The ability to be self-directed may arguably be the best character trait available in any attempt to justify your value to your employer.

Realizing Self-Direction as Communication Majors

The blog posts I read that reflected students frustrations are not the first time I’ve heard students complain about their perception of ambiguity with the expectations of their professors. I know I have complained more than once. One day in an interpersonal communication class I heard my professor say, “You guys are communication majors and you should be held to higher standard of communication”. The penny dropped, of course she’s right. If we were on the job and complained about having to research information to complete expectations, or give the excuse that we didn’t know because no-one told us even though it was clearly articulated in a memo, or syllabus, we probably wouldn’t be employed for long. In Russ and Ike’s class at the maximum it’s a little more work to realize what to do, and they are always willing to answer questions.  I just hope they aren’t too shell-shocked to give us the same shot at honing our self-direction skills.

1. Would you rather have the option of self-direction in our class?

2. Do you think self-direction is a valuable skill?


Image Credit: https://dinarobisoncoaching.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/the-catch-22-of-being-an-independent-woman/

5 thoughts on “Honing Our Self-Direction Skills

  • January 17, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    One think I have always enjoyed about taking classes with Ike is he allows us self-direction. He allows us to be creative and come up with ideas, as opposed to being stuck following an exact pre-planned method. The ability to think critically allows for us to come up with great ideas. Not to say sometimes it doesn’t help to have input from Ike or Russ, which they are more than willing to provide.

    I think self-direction is definitely a valuable skill it gives one the ability to be able to complete tasks without someone having to hold their hand and literally walk them through projects one step at a time. That is not the way life works and that is not the way the real world works. In order to be prepared for employment, post graduation self-direction is a must!

    • January 17, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      I couldn’t agree more Jesse. Developing this skill is a must to succeed in the real world. I always say that jobs are for suckers. I don’t mean that people who work are suckers, I mean if you can find something you love to do, then its hardly like work and it certainly doesn’t feel like a job. It is next to impossible to create a gig that you truly love without being self-directed. There are very few things, in my opinion, more desirable than loving the gig you have, even if you have to do something you hate to get there.

  • January 17, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    I believe that self-direction is becoming a lost art among millennials as well as the next generation of young adults. Self-direction could also be understood as independence, which is a quality lacking in many students in our society. I remember from my personal high school experience that teaching self-direction was not a popular message and was oftentimes lost in the maddening shuffle of meeting the academic requirements set by administration. Many hands were held in high school and the consequences are carried into universities by young college students. Dr. Ike and Russ conduct their classroom as if it is a professional workplace that effectively prepares students to enter a career.

    To be given the opportunity to individually seek out information by actively communicating with a team and professors to solve problems is infinitely beneficial. Employers are searching for candidates fully equipped to be bold and confident in their field. I believe Dr. Ike and Russ provide a healthy balance of specific instruction and allowing students to direct themselves. It is all about using your resources. This world changes so quickly now so that you must stay on your toes. See past the surface, dig deeper, and self-direct your way to the extra mile. I believe that is what is in store for this semester and I could not be more thrilled.

    • January 17, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      You make great points Eli, thanks for your response. I’m not sure it’s just millennials that suffer this challenge, although millennials certainly suffer a reality of high debt and modest success in finding a specialized job after college. One of the biggest benefits to being independent is the ability to use what you’ve got to get what you need. I think Ike and Russ have provided an opportunity for students to sharpen this skill.

  • January 18, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    Thinking about the first question proposed I definitely am leaning towards both ends of the spectrum. Yes, self-direction is an amazing quality to have and I have no problem having to utilize that in the classroom. But, I also do like to be able to have some direction from the teachers which I believe Ike and Russ do plenty of. As you were speaking on the last Advanced class and how they were very upset on the teaching I believe that it may had to of dealt with their own drive of self direction. Ike and Russ aren’t out to make this class impossible, if you get stuck ask a question. It’s really as simple as that.

    Self-direction is an extremely sought out skill in my opinion. It really grinds my gears when people constantly ask me questions about things when they’re just starting the assignment or it’s their first time using a program. The way that I succeed in getting to where I want to be is by trial and error. Especially when the professors and/or a boss in the future aren’t there to hold your hand you need to be able to fix problems on your own. Once we all graduate in some way or another we’re going to be able to need a little self-direction. We won’t always have a helping hand guiding us to the finish line.


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