Strange semirandom question here that I'm hoping folks might be able to help me shape or track down an answer to. It's not formed very well yet; I'm still trying to mold it into something useful.

In your opinion/personal experience, how is culture a determining factor in the amount, type, extent, or depth of self-directed learning a student tends to do and his/her attitude towards it?

By self-directed learning I mean anything a student decides to teach themselves and does (as opposed to something someone else orders you to learn, or formally teaches you without you asking them to.) Independent studies, self-started side hobbies/projects, and other things that could be construed as "building an airplane while flying it"-ish count as self-directed learning. Classes you're only taking because you're "supposed" to don't.

Rationale behind the potential hypothesis that it does: one could, for example, imagine the (stereotypically) individualistic American culture making it more common to see self-directed learning in this country than in a culture where group identity and/or tradition is stressed. Or that, say, males are more encouraged to pursue self-directed learning than females, or that lower-income students are forced to pursue more self-directed learning than higher-income students to cover comparable material in their studies. Are there differences in who does or values self-directed learning? Why? What does this mean about how we design learning experiences to facilitate student-driven pursuits in various cultures?

Somewhat behind this is my unchallenged assumption (which I'm working to eliminate or at least understand the flip side of) that enabling self-directed life-long learning should be a primary objective of education. I want to thank Nikki especially at starting to chip away at this long-held bias of mine, and Kristen for reminding me that individual psychology matters as much as if not more than group membership in determining how students learn (in other words: stereotypes are generalizations, and can only go so far if they go anywhere at all).

Workin' on it.