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Learning Styles

Classroom Study vs Self-Study: Which is better?

classroom study v self study

The age-old debate of classroom study versus self-study is hotly discussed even to this day. It is not just a few students battling out this topic in a debate competition, but often a topic of discussion on the internet and even among academics.

While most people tend to take a side when it comes to this debate, we decided to take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of each. Whether you are aspiring to top a competitive exam or a parent thinking of homeschooling your child, this blog will give you a comprehensive overview of both schools of thought.

Benefits of classroom study

  1. A teacher’s guidance

The expertise of a teacher backed by years of experience is an invaluable factor in imparting quality education. They also follow a highly structured lesson plan and can answer any queries you have. A teacher can provide you with much more than just knowledge — they are also a source of wisdom. The best teacher also acts as a guide and a mentor, whose teachings go beyond the classroom.

2. Access learning resources

You get access to exclusive course material that is based on carefully designed curricula, that places the right emphasis on important concepts and helps you gain an overall understanding of the subject.

3. Study plans that work

The course plan in a school is usually structured to fit in a stipulated amount of time, usually over the course of an academic year and this helps you develop your own study plan easily. This structure makes your learning efficient and effective.

4. Help from friends

When you are a part of a classroom, you become part of a social group that you can depend on if you miss classes. Your friends might even turn out to be teachers themselves and help you learn, practice and revise. They can even teach you shortcuts to remember dates and formulae easily.

Drawbacks of classroom study

  1. Susceptible to spoon-feeding

With any form of institutionalised learning, you become increasingly dependent on teachers and tend to confine yourself to their instructions. In this process, there is a possibility that you don’t try to explore a concept/subject beyond what is taught in class.

As a result, you end up learning only what the teacher/textbook offers when there is scope to learn a lot more. This type of group learning may suppress the individual personality of a student in an attempt to make them part of a larger group.

2. One-size-fits-all approach

The classroom education system doesn’t take into account the diverse learning styles and needs of children. While some children are visual and auditory learners, others may learn better through books or experimentation. While some people grasp concepts very quickly, others may have special needs to be met to learn. The factory-like routine enforced by this system makes education monotonous and attending classes may feel like going through the motions after a certain point in time.

3. Time and money

You need to invest a huge amount of your time in classroom study (for instance, tuition or coaching classes) which may sometimes give you diminishing returns. Apart from exorbitant fees, commuting also costs you dearly (unless you are taking online classes).

4. Limited learning resources

Despite having access to exclusive learning resources, these resources are limited by the course they are related to. There is also the limitation of time — the course needs to be completed in a predefined amount of time. This severely limits the amount of knowledge you are allowed to gain from a course and the scope to learn more is greatly reduced.

Benefits of self-study

  1. Creates responsibility & caters to curiosity

When learning by yourself, you tend to be more responsible about what you are learning, how much you have learnt and in how much time, when you have no one but yourself to depend on. Self-study makes you independent and gives an outlet to your curiosity, in turn, leading to better learning.

2. More resources to choose from

Self-study compels you to look beyond the primary sources of knowledge — the books. While they are adequate by themselves, learning from different sources like the internet, media, new-age games, experimentation, etc, broadens your perspectives and allows you to understand a concept comprehensively.

3. Personalised study methods

When learning on your own, you have the freedom to choose the methods that suit you the best. You don’t have to try and fit in or go by what the majority of the class is doing. Self-learning helps you learn faster and better by catering to individual learning needs.

4. Customised learning goals

Self-study allows you to learn at your own pace and set your own learning targets. You can optimise the pace you set for yourself to allow you to grasp and remember concepts better. When you achieve the goals you set for yourself, you become interested in learning further. Self-learning is a great contributor to inculcating a learning interest.

5. Saves money and time

When you take up self-study, you save a lot of waiting time that is involved in commuting. It eliminates your dependence on others’ availability for your learning.  Besides this, you also save on the money that goes into institutionalised learning that includes transport overheads, tuition fees and food charges, if any.

Drawbacks of self-learning

  1. Requires a lot of self-motivation

Sitting with books for a long time all by yourself needs tremendous motivation to reach the goals you set for yourself. In a class, it is relatively easier because the learning is interactive. You must gather all your motivation or be highly disciplined and driven for a successful self-study session.

2. Lack of guidance

It is natural to get doubts while studying. The drawback of a self-study session is that you have no one to rely on. With no expert advice to turn to, you will have to spend more time in research or wait till you meet a teacher. This prevents you from studying further and may hamper your study goals.

3. Slow learning

Self-learning may allow you to learn at your pace, but a lack of proper targets or guidance could leave you behind in the learning process when compared with classroom learners.

4. Inauthentic learning sources

Self-learning may open up a lot of learning resources, but the authenticity of these resources cannot be guaranteed. Additionally, there is no way to verify either. With so many editable platforms online, you are more likely to come across people’s opinions instead of the facts.

The scales are pretty balanced when it comes to the pros and cons of classroom and self-study.

While classroom study offers a teacher’s guidance, gives you access to learning resources and makes you part of a learning group, but can get monotonous and be resource-intensive. On the other hand, self-learning allows you to be independent, responsible, save time and money and gives you the freedom to choose your own learning methods and set your own goals. However, self-study requires high intrinsic motivation and lacks a predefined structure.

Whether you like learning in a classroom or want to learn by yourself — you need a reliable companion for all your learning needs.

Kushal S

A writer who loves literature, cinema, martial arts and pineapple on pizza. His creativity knows no bounds, especially after four shots of coffee.


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