Dr. Gutstein Explains the Key Elements of RDI®

The RDI® model is focused on several key concepts.

The following concepts are what we’ve built the RDI® program on and what you’ll use as parent guides to guide your child’s learning, growth and neural, social and intellectual development.

Learning as a life-long, holistic process

We view learning as a lifelong process involving our bodies, our brains and minds, the people who seek to guide us, and the potential opportunities we find or that are offered to us.

Learning requires opportunities to explore and experiment.

The RDI® program operates from the principle that effective learning cannot occur if students experience the threat of severe consequences, loss, or feel high levels of performance anxiety. Productive learning environments provide numerous opportunities to engage with mental challenges in a playful, curious, manner.

Programs are constructed to encourage learners to take maximum advantage of opportunities to explore and experiment with the novel, challenging & unfamiliar, without initially having to worry about meeting real-world performance demands, or suffer the consequences of ‘failed experiments’.

Learners must experience ownership.

By becoming self-auditors and self-advocates for their learning & performance needs, students become empowered owners of the learning process.

Learners must be actively engaged.

‘Engaged Learning’ is an educational principle emphasizing that learning must be an active process, where learners actively transform the information they are presented with to construct personally meaningful representations that are integrated with what they already know.

Authentic and anchored learning opportunities

Learning must be authentic & applicable to learners’ real-world experiences. Prior learning must serve as an experience anchor to make new learning a much more efficient and meaningful process.

In order to provide an experience of continuity, we anchor new learning by providing a temporally extended, perspective, viewing each new learned piece as an extension, or expansion of prior learning and as a foundation for future learning. This means that we guide our students to the next step in learning, when they are developmentally and emotionally ready. We do not rush students into taking full responsibility for autonomous ‘real-world’ functioning. Instead, we encourage gradually situated transfer.

Students are provided with opportunities to apply their new learning in a series of ‘simulated’ environments, where complexity is gradually increased, until it approximates the learner’s real-world ‘application environment’.

Opportunities for safe exploration & experimentation

Opportunities for learning are carefully balanced with transferring self-management in gradually more complex real-world settings, at a pace that is optimal for each student. Parent Guides increase elements of ‘application complexity’ one variable at a time while students work towards mastery.

Balanced Learning

RDI® Programs try to maintain a healthy balance between real-world application and ongoing development – Applying knowledge, skill, habits and mental states to attain important goals and learning to look for & take advantage of opportunities for further development

Developing personalized experience-based knowledge

Learning is re-defined, not as the accumulation of information, but as a lifelong process of developing personally meaningful knowledge. Personalized Knowledge Students learn that the product of their experience – Personalized Knowledge – has a unique potential to empower them because it reflects their own authentic experience and represents their unique needs.

RDI® teaches students to function beyond the capacity provided by our haphazard and intuitive memory processes. Students learn to intentionally and mindfully construct effective knowledge products that they externally store in personalized knowledge management system and retrieve to help them prepare for new goals and challenging situations.

Personalized knowledge is applicable, extendable, upgradable and can be efficiently retrieved when needed. We define learning, not as the mere accumulation of information, but as a lifelong process of actively constructing personally meaningful knowledge.

Knowledge, skill, habits and mindsets:

While personalized knowledge is considered central, it will have no value unless requisite skills, habits and mind-sets are in place. Skill proficiency represents our capacity to apply and implement knowledge often in an unconscious, automatic manner, by turning it into effective action, in real-world situations. While knowledge is not useful without requisite proficiency, students learn that the reverse is also true. In order to become proficient in the most effective and efficient manner they require knowledge to guide the process.

These key elements are the core of the RDI program.

These elements help us to help you to guide your child toward growth, development, and, ultimately, independence.


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