After many years of teaching university students, the most powerful and influential lessons the undergraduates and graduate students preferred were the assignments which encompassed personal reflection and experiential learning. These students described that studying the course’s learning objectives with personal exploration pedagogies, challenged their original worldviews, felt liberated from previous subconscious mental programs, and more confident to apply their new knowledge in everyday life decisions. Many students reported that the self-awareness contributed to a clearer understanding of how they would move forward after the course to intentionally advance their professional and academic careers.
One student’s evaluation submission summarized the consensus nicely,
“For the four years of college courses I have experienced, this was by far, the most rewarding on every level and one of my favorites. I have never experienced such valuable information in a class that comes up in everyday life. The extremely eye-opening experiences and class material helped me stretch myself as an individual during the papers and class activities. I came out of this class with observations and feelings that I never knew I had. I not only gained knowledge to apply to my future career, but I gained more self-confidence and really pushed myself to grow as a person.”
As an educator, there is no greater joy than witnessing my students demonstrate new skills, knowledge, and self-awareness. Although my courses focused primarily on law, educational leadership, multiculturalism, and societal studies, many of the students reported that their experience was the closest thing they had ever had to a formal Self-Study course.
Instead of waiting until adulthood to formally study the Self , what if actual “Self-Studies” courses were incorporated into elementary, middle and high school educational programs alongside required subjects like reading, writing, and math? Would it make a difference on the student’s development, their worldview, ethics, community engagement, health, grades, career choice, interpersonal relationships, financial stability, emotional intelligence, and long-term achievements? How would studying the Self influence the educational system, the city, state, nation, and planet?
Before we go any further, let’s understand the term “Self-Studies” to represent a formal course, grounded on legitimate peer-reviewed, tested, published research, and facilitated by well trained and highly qualified instructors whose aim is to foster individualized identity development and personal growth through self-reflection and experiential learning to encourage emotional intelligence, purposeful living, goal achievement, healthy lifestyles and interpersonal relationships, environmental awareness, and community contribution.
Based on that definition, that not one of my own alma maters had offered a Self-Studies course in my programs of study. That’s a big deal considering that I have earned a high school diploma, college degree, and multiple graduate degrees (M.A.; Ph.D.). How much more powerful would my academic, personal, and professional contributions be if my primary and secondary schools had offered courses like Mindfulness; Personal Habits and Behaviors; Core Principles and Values; Family and Cultural Influences; Healthy Relationships; Emotional Intelligence; Identity Exploration; My impact on Modern Society and the Environment; My Culture and how it Compares to others; and Financial Goal Planning? If I, as a young person, had studied where I came from, what I stood for, who I believe I am, how I would contribute my value to society, and who I wanted to share my life with, how would things be different today?
Only now, after 31 years, I’ve finally completed my first formal Self-Study program and recognize the tremendous power it provides. The self-discoveries are tremendously helpful to grasp why I live the way I do and how I want to live from this point forward to achieve a clear, laser-focused goal. We are seeing a movement across the United States of personal success courses emphasizing self-study, goal planning, networking, communication, and professional skills development to generate healthy, happy, skilled members of our society and workforce. PSI Seminars, is one personal success educational organization that provides Self-Study courses that teach personal exploration to enable students to live with a better understanding of who they are, what they want, and how they can apply their unique abilities in daily life and achieve long-term goals. Another organization, called One Life Fully Lived, is an example of personal development through self-study aiming to develop identify, core values, and personal life goals.
Because I’m an academic junky and educational advocate, I recommend Self-Studies as an early means to generate self-awareness that supports a lifetime of academic, professional, spiritual, social, emotional, physical, and financial successes.