I have been working for some time now to investigate the types of learning environments and activities that foster/support/promote the emergence of self-directed learning.
One experience that has been a touchstone for me is teaching Scratch and Arduino (in separate settings). We saw what I started calling a “ripple” effect. I would demonstrate some basic skill. Some kids would get it immediate and could not stop themselves from trying it out. The amazing part is that they then became compelled to share what they had done with other students. The kids literally started rippling through the classroom. And suddenly most, if not all, of the others were engaged.
Over time, the time I would spend on the introduction of the basic skills would get shorter and shorter to allow more time for the “ripple.” The only way to stop it was to literally stop the enthusiasm. You can imagine the downward spiral on enthusiasm.