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Critical Analysis Paper Essay Sample

Summary of Main Ideas

            The main idea in this article is that allowing the children to “play with knives” can be considered as the correct move because it would be inappropriate for the parents to impose what they want to happen to their children (Lancy, 2016). It will also not do anything good for the parents to prevent their children from doing what they want to do. This is because children learn most effectively if they can explore objects by themselves, even those objects that are as dangerous as knives. If the children get injured while exploring a knife, this should be considered as a lesson that they are going to learn because they know already that they are going to be careful the next time they handle a knife. If the children learn through their own experiences, the parents do not need to become teachers anymore to their children.

Critical Evaluation

            An important aspect of the article that will be critically evaluated is the main finding which is that allowing the children to become self-initiated learners is an excellent strategy because it will provide plenty of benefits to the children as they grow up. There are numerous studies that have been conducted already which support this main finding. For example, the study of Elkind (2008) mentioned that self-initiated learning enables the children to effectively interpret information and remember it in the long run. This is because when children truly like what they are playing and learning instead of being forced to play and learn something that they do not like, it becomes easier for them to respond to such information and easily recall it in the future when they need to. Elkind said that children will always find something enjoyable for them to play and learn because it is natural for them to be curious and explore. The parents just simply need to take a step back and allow their children to find what makes them excited to play and learn because this is one way to teach their children to become self-initiated learners in the long run.

The study of Dynan, Cate, and Rhee (2008) mentioned that self-initiated learning enables the children to become actively involved in their pursuit for knowledge as students. This means that they can concentrate their actions on searching for the information that they still do not have and they will not bother exerting effort on searching for information that they already have. Thus, the children become more aware of how learning is supposed to happen and that is through their own efforts once they become students. They will not be afraid anymore if a problem comes along because they know how to find the information that they need to solve this problem.

Klassen (2010) said that children with learning disabilities who got exposed to self-initiated learning tend to grow up being more confident because they know that they can learn anything they want to learn. They have confidence that they will get the information that they need to improve their knowledge because they will work hard and do their best to get it. Klassen believed that having confidence is very crucial especially among children with learning disabilities because when doubts enter the minds of these people, they are going to start hesitating in trying to learn something. They will not believe that they can truly learn something because their doubts have overwhelmed them already. However, Klassen was confident that this is very unlikely to happen among children with learning disabilities who were trained to be self-initiated learners because they already have the experience of getting the information that they need when they are trying to learn something new. These children already know that there is nobody else who will help them to find the information that they need except themselves. Thus, they are going to have the initiative to look for the information and focus on understanding this information because this is how they are going to learn. The confidence of children with learning disabilities who are self-initiated learners is unshakable already because they know how to get it done.

The study of Wang and Pape (2005) revealed that the curiosity of the children who are self-initiated learners will never wane because they have been trained already to never settle for what they already know. These children grow up knowing that there is always something new to learn every day. Thus, they will never settle for mediocrity because they know that they can be better than what they are today. The authors used children who are trying to learn English as their second language as their example of self-initiated learners whose pursuit for knowledge and desire for learning are unstoppable. There will be instances where the curiosity of the children might hurt them in many ways, just like when they realize that learning English is truly very hard. It is possible that the curiosity of the children might cause them frustrations. However, Wang and Pape said that the children understand that the frustrations they are experiencing now as they are trying to learn will be worth it eventually because their knowledge just keeps on getting deeper. Now that the children are aware that learning the English language can be very challenging, they will be more prepared and study harder. Nobody else made these children realize that learning the English language can be very difficult except themselves because they personally experienced the frustrations. The curiosity of these children may have gotten them frustrated and upset, but this will not stop them from continuing to pursue knowledge because this is the only way they know how to learn. In fact, the authors mentioned that these children will be more excited to try new things and be adventurous because they simply love the feeling of learning and experiencing something new. Sometimes it ends up positively for them, sometimes it ends up negatively. However, the most important thing for children who are self-initiated learners according to Wang and Pape is that their aggressiveness for learning never stops. Once their curiosity gets triggered, they will find a way to get the information they need and will not wait for others to get the information for them just to learn something new.

Hong, Haefner, and Slekar (2011) emphasized that self-initiated learning provides the best possible preparation for the children so that they will be completely ready to face the challenges that they are going to deal with in college and in the professional world. Going to school is good because this helps the children to improve their knowledge and skills. However, the authors said that the lessons being taught to the children here are already prepared ahead of time and are very conventional. The school eliminates any possible distractions that could prevent the children from learning effectively, and the children are also made aware of what their accomplishments must be for them to be considered excellent. Thus, the authors believed that the school also prevents the children from having a complete picture of what real life is about.

Hong, Haefner, and Slekar said that when the children finally go to college, this is where real life begins for them because they must be mature enough to make the best decisions to help themselves academically. Fortunately, learning has become more convenient today because of the emergence of modern technologies. Trying to learn something new has become easier because the students can just use the Internet and find whatever information that they need there to facilitate their learning process. The authors said that college students who are self-initiated learners will be very appreciative of these modern technologies because they will consider these as part of their tools to learn effectively. They are going to be very adept already when it comes to using computers and the Internet to search for the information that they need because doing these things was part of their training as self-initiated learners when they were still children. When the students graduate in college to become professionals, they have the confidence already to embrace the challenges of the real world because they have been trained as self-initiated learners who will always have the passion and eagerness to keep on learning new things that will improve their knowledge and skills and make them competent professionals.

Integrated Summary and Suggestion

All these studies mentioned here support the idea of Lancy that self-initiated learning is an excellent strategy because it provides plenty of benefits to the children as they grow up. They all emphasized the point that self-initiated learning recognizes the reality that children have various skill levels and that they also can learn something new at different paces. There are children who can learn quickly once something new is taught to them, while there are also children who are simply slow learners and take some time before they understand what has been taught to them. Children who are self-initiated learners learn at their own pace and they just continue to improve their skill levels as they learn. There is nobody who pressures these children to learn something that they do not want to understand. Instead, they are just allowed to follow their curiosity because what they are curious about is surely something that they want to learn.

The most reasonable suggestion moving forward is for the parents not to hesitate to follow the strategy of self-initiated learning as part of raising their children because the studies have already proven the tremendous benefits that self-initiated learning can provide to their children which will help them to become better people as they grow up. Self-initiated learning will make the children curious and determined to learn anything that they want because they have the confidence to do so. The parents must understand that it is very important that their children are very happy whenever they are trying to learn. If the parents are forcing their children to learn something, this will not be very enjoyable at all for their children. Thus, the parents must appreciate that self-initiated learning just gives the freedom to their children to follow what their curiosity tells them to do even if it means taking cuts and bruises every now and then because the learning process is not always easy and comfortable. Sometimes, learning something new requires taking risks which the children who are self-initiated learners will not hesitate to do.


Dynan, L., Cate, T., and Rhee, K. (2008). The Impact of Learning Structure on Students’ Readiness for Self-Directed Learning. Journal of Education for Business, Vol. 84, No. 2, pp. 96-100

Elkind, D. (2008). The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally. American Journal of Play, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 1-6

Hong, B., Haefner, L., and Slekar, T. (2011). Faculty Attitudes and Knowledge Toward Promoting Self-Determination and Self-Directed Learning for College Students with and without Disabilities. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 175-185

Klassen, R. (2010). Confidence to Manage Learning: The Self-Efficacy for Self-Regulated Learning of Early Adolescents with Learning Disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, Vol 33, No. 1, pp. 19-32

Lancy, D. (2016). Playing with Knives: The Socialization of Self-Initiated Learners. Child Development, Vol. 87, No. 3, pp. 654–665

Wang, C., and Pape, S. (2005). Self-Efficacy Beliefs and Self-Regulated Learning Strategies in Learning English as a Second Language: Four Case Studies. The CATESOL Journal, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 76-91

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Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.
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