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Learner autonomy and its implications to teacher autonomy Autonomy in second language learning and teaching contexts In the

last quarter of the twentieth century, there was an increasing emphasis on student autonomy in language learning (see Little, 1991). Learners were encouraged to pursue their own goals for language acquisition. Autonomous learners are self-directed. Autonomous learning can be coupled with formal instruction but in such a way that learners make important decisions and take steps to further their own progress: Learners who are autonomous take responsibility by setting their own goals, planning practice opportunities, or assessing their progress (ibid.). Autonomy can be related to teacher development as well. Recently this topic has gained some attention in our field. For example, Nunan and Lambs (1996) book is entitled The Self-Directed Teacher: Managing the Learning

Process. Gebhard and Oprandy (1999) begin their book with the idea that teachers should take responsibility for improving their own teaching. Likewise, Pursuing Professional Development: The Self as Source, by Bailey et al. (2001), is based on the idea that teachers can do a great deal to promote their own professional development. The idea of self-directed teachers stands in stark contrast to approaches to professional preparation and supervision that try to get teachers to follow a certain method (e.g., the historical case in U.S. government language schools). When we think of the traditional supervisorial role of inspector (Acheson and Gall, 1997) or Wallaces (1991) classic prescriptive approach to teacher

supervision, we can see that one

characteristic of those approaches is the

teachers lack of autonomy, contrasted with the supervisors extreme authority. (See also Goldsberry, 1988.) However, nowadays it is not uncommon for supervisors to work with teachers who wish to be quite autonomous. To students (1995:219), there are

paraphrase Cotteralls prior comment about

teachers who take responsibility by setting their own goals, planning practice (or improvement) opportunities, or assessing their own progress. Definitions of autonomy Autonomy lies at the heart of teacher-supervisor relationships. The concept of autonomy relates to the property of a state to be self-ruling or selfgoverning (Boud, 1981:18). In education, autonomy is the capacity of an

individual to be an independent agent, not governed by others (ibid.). For Benson and Lor (1998:3), autonomy is a process of individuals active involvement in the learning process, responsibility or its control over factors such as time,

frequency, pace, settings and methods of learning, and critical awareness of purposes and goals. Timing and pace are important in any discussion of teachersupervisor relationships. Even where teachers and supervisors share purposes and goals, their views of the time needed for learning a skill or acquiring knowledge may differ considerably. Breen and Mann (1997:134) explain autonomy as a position from which to engage with the world. . . . [It is] not an ability that has to be learnt . . . but a way of being that has to be discovered or rediscovered. What an autonomous person thinks and does is determined by the individual and planning and judging

involves choosing, deciding, deliberating, reflecting,

(Dearden, 1972:46). However, complete autonomy, in which the learner is totally responsible for all the decisions about his or her learning, is rare (Dickinson, 1987:11). The importance of individual autonomy may vary from one culture to another. According to Pennycook (1997:36), autonomy has been central to

European liberal-democratic and liberal-humanist thought, where it has been defined as both mastery over oneself (an internal, psychological mastery) and freedom from mastery exercised over oneself by others (an external, social and political freedom). Thus it is based on a belief in a developed self a selfconscious, rational being able to make independent decisions and an emphasis on freedom from external constraints a sense of liberty bestowed by social and political structures. (ibid.) Training and development Freeman (1989a) contrasts two important processes: training and development. He defines training as a strategy for direct intervention by the collaborator, to work on specific aspects of the teachers teaching (p. 39).

Development, on the other hand, is a strategy of influence and indirect intervention that works on complex, integrated aspects of teaching [that] are idiosyncratic and individual (ibid.:40). The collaborator, as Freeman uses the term, is someone who helps a teacher learn. That person might be a colleague, a supervisor, a mentor, a peer coach, or the like. Freeman suggests that some teacher learning, especially at the level of knowledge and skills, can be initiated and promoted by a collaborator and addressed through training activities.

However, although attitude and awareness issues may be raised by the collaborator, the teacher must do the actual developmental work in these areas. Therefore, it is important for supervisors to be clear about what constituent base of teaching may be involved in any given context. Training and development relate to time and teacher learning. Training and development are two complementary components of a fully rounded teacher education (Head and Taylor, 1997:9). Teacher training of the

essentially concerns knowledge of the topic to be taught, and

methodology for teaching it (ibid.). Teacher development, in contrast, involves the learning atmosphere which is created through the effect of the teacher on the learners, and their effect on the teacher (ibid.). Head and Taylor say

development is related to people skills and to teachers being aware of their attitudes and behaviors. So, although there will be instances in which supervisors should call on training strategies, at other times development strategies will be more appropriate. Freeman refers to training as a process of direct intervention (1989a:42) and to development as a process of influence (ibid.). These ideas are related to our discussion of autonomy, and particularly to the concept of time to learn. In areas where a teacher needs time to develop, the language teacher supervisor may be able to exert influence, but direct intervention may be

minimally effective or even counterproductive. As professional language teachers, we can practice autonomy in our actions, our decision making, or both. And, as teacher supervisors, we caninfluence both teachers decision making and their actions. For example, a

preservice teacher may conduct group work alone but at the direction of the cooperating teacher. Although the cooperating teacher makes the decision, the preservice teacher carries out the action independently. In other circumstances the preservice teacher might conduct group work with the cooperating teachers assistance, no matter whose choice it was to do group work. There are also situations in which the cooperating teacher would turn the class, including the lesson planning, over entirely to the trainee. In that context, both the trainees actions and decision making would be autonomous.

Learner autonomy and its implications to teacher autonomy

Mata Kuliah: Kurikulum dan Penelitian Pendidikan Dosen Pengampu: Prof. Suwarsih Madya, Ph.D

Oleh: Karladian Putri (no.reg. 10706259020)

Program Pasca Sarjana Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta 2011