Self-directed learning can never be content, or curriculum driven. Self-directed learning is brain or thinking driven.
When a student says: “I am going to study biology – specifically the circularly system.”, it spells out motivation, not self-directed learning. When the student decides to study the heart first and then the arteries and then veins, it is still not self-directed learning, it demonstrates motivation and is curriculum driven – addressing the WHAT and not the HOW.
Self-directed learning needs Thinking Tools which are driven by the critical thinking toolkit which I call the mothership of all thinking which could guide the student to enter into a surface thinking mode to determine the exact point of departure, namely, to analyse the parts of the heart using the white thinking hat and record it on a tree map.
The self-directed learning learner would then know that each part of the heart must have a specific function which is determined by the student deciding to engage into deeper thinking to further analyse the parts of the heart with the white hat, whist evaluating the correctness thereof as it is being record on a bridge map.
The student may then decide to verify the correctness of the later research by evaluating the correctness before embarking on the arteries.
Or using a double bubble map to compare and contrast the left side of the heart with the right side OR the upper part with the lower part before embarking on the arteries.
Without Thinking Tools, it is like traveling with a compass.
With Thinking Tools, it is like traveling in a self-directed way, using a GPS.