Independent Studies

Ron’s Independent Studies

For 25 years, Ron Partin, author of Classroom Teachers’ Survival Guide , has satisfied his thirst for learning by annually setting up his own independent study. He selects a topic that piques his curiosity and embarks upon a quest to learn all he can about it in roughly a year. His research involves reading all the books and articles he can find relevant to the selected topic, attending workshops and seminars, and interviewing any available experts.

He is accountable to no one but himself; no grades or reports are required. There is nothing magical about length of time he spends; some topics run their course in less than a year. Partin finds it is time to move on when what he is reading or hearing becomes redundant or when the topic becomes less interesting to him.

While he was teaching at Bowling Green State University, the content of his inquiries tended to be academic; for example, the use of time in schools, stress management, creative problem solving, perfectionism, and classroom management. More recent topics have included learning to design Web pages, growing dahlias, building stained glass windows, and the life and work of Carl Sandburg.

Developing Expertise

“You can learn a great deal about any topic if you focus on it for a year,” Partin suggests. He reports that the one year’s topic often emerges from the previous year’s study, appearing almost subconsciously as a gift that presents itself or “an itch that needs scratching.” Partin anticipates that his independent study practice will continue as a lifelong habit.

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