Autodidact vs. College



1. Schooling

In the past, "oral teaching" was inevitable, before writing, printing and computers were invented. Technology made life, and learning easier, partly liberating man from dependence on other humans for getting information from. Traditional schooling is still needed, however, in some contexts for different reasons:

  • Not everyone can be a self-taught autodidact doing away with teachers, like famous autodidacts who had the means, motivation and gift to be self-sufficient autodidacts.
  • Not all ideas in books are lucid or organized enough to be understood without someone's guidance.
  • Not all of us have time to learn from scratch what others have spent their entire life learning.
  • Not all first-hand experiences are recorded in books, and, for this, one must go through them by themselves, or learn about them from another person, in person.
  • Above all, our present technology isn't helpful enough: computers and search-engines aren't qualified yet to give an immediate exact answer to one's questions.

Thus, one can learn alone and with others. The superiority of reading as the prime source of knowledge for the autodidact doesn't mean that mingling, moving and learning cannot go together. Conversations, workshops and classrooms are still great settings for learning, yet for a different motivation with different tools.

Unfortunately, such are mostly time-consuming tools and the motivation is an inferior short-lived one, derived from the social instinct that Pascal describes as "the warmth" we feel with other people motivating us to behave and learn in such a way.

Schooling is also challenging for both teachers and students because of students' individual differences. Knowledge is as personal as belief, taste or interest is, because everyone has their own memories, fantasies, ambitions, needs, urges, brain capacity and structure, and different motives to learn. No teacher has the time or ability to know all the above; he is not a mind-reader to see it in action, witnessing the activities taking place within the billion neural pathways in each student's head, and guessing which are blocked, congested or open to receive new thoughts.

A good teacher only guides his students to knowledge sources, but does not serve it to them on a silver platter. He only sows his seeds in a fathomless foreign land: the human brain.


2. Autodidactism

No one can deny the changes IT has made to our life so far, putting the whole world and entire human history at our hands, that the teacher's "teaching" role is diminishing, while the knowledge one can receive alone, compared to that received with others, is increasing—anyone with any intelligence, provided having the will and desire to learn. It only takes two to learn: man and book, brain and machine, intelligence and artificial intelligence. It's a special relationship, like the old teacher-student one, except the teacher is Knowledge itself and Everyman is the student.

Life is not long enough, for one to take courses or have a degree in every subject they love or need to learn about. Hence, books, reading, and self-teaching.

When selecting books for autodidacts, the selection should reflect and benefit from the advantages of autodidactism:

  • More freedom of choice, to suit one's own abilities, needs and tastes for what they learn.
  • More time and freer schedule, not affected by class time, school location, traffic, etc.
  • More money saved to spend on one's own books and experiments, rather than on fees given to college (and whoever makes a living there).
  • More focus on studying, rather than socializing (or whatever non-learning reasons people go to school for).

The book choice should also counteract the possible disadvantages of autodidactism, mostly caused by studying under no pressure, by time or people, where pressure/tension is useful sometimes. Possible harms can be:

  • Self-biased knowledge.
  • Irresponsibility toward studying.
  • Ignorance about other people's problems.
  • Missing the whole picture, if not including all the needed courses in one's curriculum.

To avoid such harms, a curriculum should include courses and techniques developing the opposite effects:

  • Commitment. Having a reminder, a schedule to follow, a checklist of goals to achieve ...
  • Motivation. Selecting books on everyday problems one could face, books about pleasure, and books to read for pleasure (a carrot is always better than a stick). For motivation also, there should be a well-deserved reward whenever a goal is achieved, as well as timely breaks.
  • Objectivity. Selecting books that improve logical thinking skills, to avoid bias, subjectivity, losing the general to the particular, or forgetting bad scenarios/possibilities.
  • Empathy. Sociology, psychology and social fiction generally help understanding other people's problems, needs and pleasures.
  • SPECIALTY. With abundant resources everywhere, anyone can kow anything, that one must "specialize" in certain things.


Autodidact Curriculum        |       Books for Autodidacts        |       Learning Motivation

Reading Techniques        |       Learning by Writing