When comparing schools to Independent Learning, it’s useful to contrast Behaviorial Models with Constructivist Learning Theory.
Behaviorist theory, which was made popular by B.F. Skinner influences the great majority of educational institutions. Many educators believe that the most effective path to learning is the mastery of small chunks of information which can then be applied to more major concepts. Testing measures knowledge and recollection of the small previously memorized chunks of information with precious little focus on comprehensive, application or critical thought.
However cognitive and developmental psychology developed an alternative, learner-centered called the "constructivist theory" which suggests that learning is most effective when the learner actively constructs and interfaces with his or her own understanding.
The constructivist learning environment provides an opportunity to build on prior knowledge and understanding to construct new knowledge and understanding from authentic experience. Students confront problems full of meaning because of their real-life context. In solving these problems, students are encouraged to explore possibilities, invent alternative solutions, collaborate with other students (or external experts), try out ideas and hypotheses, revise their thinking, and finally present the best solution they can derive.
Contrast this approach with the typical classroom, where students are the passive recipients of bits of information passed down from the teacher and assigned textbook readings. Students are encouraged to memorize the correct answer and there is no need to make any sense of the content or to think critically about the method or essence of the information.