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Have you ever wanted to do something but wondered if you could do it? Or worse, have you ever wanted to do something but didn’t think you had the aptitude for it? Do you have the confidence to enable you to learn—and to do—what you need to be able to fulfill your dreams?

This website is about learning new things. It’s about learning to be good at the things you’ve always wanted to do and the things you’ve wanted to do but never known you’ve wanted to do them. As you learn, you will grow in confidence. Your new skills will enrich your life. They will increase your ability to make positive contributions in your family, in the communities in which you live, and in the world.

The resources on this site will help you learn how to become a confident self-directed learner, someone who is able to discover or develop new interests, find resources for learning, and grow in interests and ability. They will help you become someone who isn’t limited or boxed in by your circumstances.

Confidence to Learn is an invitation for you to join with us in lifelong learning. It gives a pattern to help you design your life according to your desires and your beliefs. It helps you build a confident life that fits your interests, resources, and needs. Whatever your situation, this site has the resources to help you learn throughout your life.

The site is always being developed. We add material nearly every day. Please check back frequently to see what's new.

Self-directed learning comes naturally. An infant is a self-directed learner, choosing the timing and the direction of his or her learning. Institutional learning—initiated and governed by a teacher or some other governing board—is more unnatural. Instead of recognizing that each learner is an individual, with varying interests, backgrounds, and skills, institutions prepackage instruction by any number of categories: by subject, by the age or the gender of the learner, by disciplinary boundaries, and so on. The result of teacher-directed learning is often students that are dependent on outside factors to initiate or motivate learning.

Here's an example:

In our experience, few things make college students more nervous than when a teacher gives them broad freedom to choose their own projects or to govern the scope and depth of their learning. "What is the assignment?" They ask. "What do I have to do to get an A?"

Students who have been trained to respond primarily to teacher direction do only what is required to get the grade they want. If the teacher doesn't assign enough to challenge them, they complain that the class isn't challenging enough. Unmotivated students, on the other hand, advertise to their friends that this class is an easy A.

Both of these responses are unthinkable to the self-directed learner. Self-directed learners think for themselves. They choose the subject matter and the intensity of the learning experience. They act for themselves rather than waiting to be acted upon by outside forces. Teachers in self-directed learning are mentors or coaches. They advise students. They may even encourage them to try harder. They point out options and resources and possibilities that the student may not have considered. But the student remains responsible for the learning experience.

So in self-directed learning, the students are not just learning the subject matter they have chosen to study. They are also strengthening character and developing their ability to learn. They are becoming people who are able to make choices and direct their lives according to their own needs and interests. They engage actively in learning throughout their lives, not just when they are seeking a degree in an institutional setting.

Your beliefs and values affect your ability to act, learn, and accomplish what you desire.

These beliefs include your beliefs about your capabilities, about God and His plan for your life, about personal agency or the ability to act, about genetics, about available resources, about the importance of the activity, and so on.

For example, you might say, "I want to learn math, but I’ve never been good at math," or you might say, "I hate math, but I have to learn it." In this case, your belief about your capabilities ("I've never been good at math"), your likes and dislikes ("I hate math"), or your needs ("I have to learn math") will determine how well and how quickly you can learn math.

Similarly, if you believe you are capable of changing your behavior ("I have a short attention span, and I can't learn to pay attention"), you will be limited in achieving your desires.

How can you change beliefs that limit your growth?

First, you need to identify them.

Then, you need to challenge them.

You can challenge your beliefs in many ways. You can test your beliefs against other beliefs and rely on those beliefs to help you act. Or, if your beliefs contradict your desires, you might find at least one desire, even if it is a small one, that you believe you can accomplish. Work on that one. Your confidence will grow as you begin to succeed in that area. The apparent contradictions might just work themselves out over time as your confidence grows.

Is it true that you hate math or that you aren't good at it?

Work on a little bit of math each day. Make it a priority. Get positive feedback from people you trust. Make it fun. You may find that you like it.

When I was teaching in college, I found that many students believed that they weren't good at writing or that they didn't like it. Their beliefs were based on negative experiences they had in the past.

They believed, however, that they needed my class to graduate and that they wanted (or needed) to graduate. They used this belief to motivate them to take the class or to stay with it when they found it was hard. As they began having more positive experiences in writing (and in writing a lot), their beliefs in their capabilities and interests changed. Many of them found that they liked writing and that they could become good at it.

If you really want to learn something and if you believe you can learn that thing, you will find the time and resources to enable you to learn it. If you are willing to make the attempt, you will find a way to accomplish your goals, regardless of the challenges or difficulties you encounter.