Introduction to Self-Education

Written by on March 6, 2007 in Basics Of Self Education - 38 Comments

woman-learningWelcome to SelfMadeScholar.com. This blog is all about self-education – people learning what they want to know without formal schools or classrooms. Let’s start with the basics:

What is self-education?

Self-education is learning in its purest form. You decide what you want to learn, when you’re going to learn it, and how you’re going to master the subject. There are no formal teachers, no essays, no exams, no group projects, and no grades.

You can start at any age, whether you’re one or one-hundred. It’s one of the best ways to become an interesting person and sure beats spending your weekends in front of the TV.

Why self-education?

Take a look at almost any great historical figure and you’ll find that he is a product of self-education. Even if he was a college graduate, chances are that he spent years or even decades independently studying topics that were relevant to his life.

Consider these examples:

Abigail Adams received no formal education. Instead, she taught herself by reading works from her father’s large library. She went on to become the second First Lady of the United States, and an early champion for women’s rights.

Renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell decided not to follow his plans to earn a doctorate degree. Instead, after earning his Master’s, Campbell retreated into the woods of upstate New York. For five years he read for upwards of nine hours a day, and developed his unique perspective on the power of myth. He went on to teach what he learned and write books, such as The Power of Myth and The Hero With a Thousand Faces – works that are still studied on college campuses today.

Early American patriot Benjamin Franklin ended his formal education when he was just ten years old. He went on to become a printing press apprentice, working for his brother. Through the years he was an avid reader and writer. He published several books including The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, invented products such as the lighting rod and bifocal glasses, and assisted in the writing of the Declaration of Independence.

Too old-fashioned you say? How about these:

    • Science Fiction writer Ray Bradbury developed his writing skills by spending his time reading at a local library instead of attending college. He went on to pen sci-fi classics such as The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451.

    Richard Branson decided he wanted to get experience with business when he was 16. He didn’t finish high school, but he is the owner of both American Airways and Virgin Records.

    James Cameron didn’t need film school. He dropped out of college to get practical experience in the movies and later directed films such as Titanic.

    Michael Dell decided to sell computers instead of stay in college. Chances are high that you’ve purchased electronics from his company – Dell Computers.

To see an extended list of self-educators who have made a difference in the world, check out this site from Autodidactic Press.

Clearly, self-education is the key to personal development. Learning is what helps people understand their world, participate in that world, and make good judgments about what they see. While formal education and training can be helpful, most people can’t afford to spend their entire lives locked away in college classrooms. Nor would they want to.

Independent study gives people the chance to learn about the topics they choose – in depth and at their own pace.

What should I learn?

Learn anything you want.

Consider starting with the classics. Unless you graduated from an Ivy League school or attended a liberal arts college with a great books program, chances are that you missed out on a classical education. You didn’t get the chance to delve into the literature that defines Western civilization and reflects the “great conversation” – an ongoing discussion seeking answers to society’s timeless questions. Not only can studying the classics give you a greater understanding of history, it can give you a deeper understanding of what is going on in the world today.

Alternatively, you could choose to study an academic subject that interests you. Learn what makes a great writer, study historic architecture, become a religious scholar, or perform science experiments in your basement. You can start to become an expert at any age. If you’re in high school, there’s nothing stopping you from becoming the local expert on jazz music. If you already graduated college, chances are you still didn’t get the opportunity to study everything you wanted to know. This time, do it your way. No need to follow a syllabus or wait for the group – study exactly what you want to know.

Or, perhaps you would like to develop a skill or a trade. Learn to frame a house, grow herbs, or sew clothes. Practical, hands-on skills are no less valuable than academic knowledge. Of course, don’t be surprised if your new-found cooking skills make you the talk of the neighborhood. Bon Appétit.

How do I get started?

That’s what this website is all about. Browse through the archives and you’ll find hundreds of posts about creating a learning philosophy, developing effective learning skills, and finding the resources you need. The list of popular posts is a good place to start. Keep visiting this blog and don’t be afraid to join the conversation.

Additionally, this site’s Directory of Free Online Courses provides a searchable database of hundreds of no-cost classes available on the net. They can be taken at any time and can be used to study whatever subject you’re interested in.

Here are a few of my favorite online class categories:

Free Online Arts Classes

Free Online Religion Classes

Free Online Writing Classes

Free Online Investing Classes

Free Online Language Classes

Free Online Film Classes

Free Online Science Classes

Happy studying.

38 Comments on "Introduction to Self-Education"

  1. Eric Blue March 9, 2007 at 7:56 pm · Reply

    What a great resource! I consider myself an autodidactic and am passionate about learning. I’ve been collecting a list of links related to learning, research, and education. I originally posted here:

    Digital Enlightenment: Using the Internet for Research, Learning, and Education
    http://eric-blue.com/blog/2006/09/digital_enlightenment_using_th.html

    I’ll be sure to add your site to my next update.

  2. admin March 14, 2007 at 11:22 pm · Reply

    Wow – your site has a lot of helpful resources. I particularly like your link-rich maps and plan on using them again.

    Thanks for sharing your link.

  3. KingOmer March 22, 2007 at 9:19 am · Reply

    This is a great site!

    I’ll be back often.

  4. Mary March 29, 2007 at 12:19 pm · Reply

    Thank you so much for the wonderful site! I have already used the ASL link and reviewed etiquette in the social skills area. This will be a great learning tool for those of us who homeschool.

  5. absxv April 9, 2007 at 5:10 am · Reply

    Good site!!!

  6. absalom May 6, 2007 at 11:51 pm · Reply

    Absolutely fantastic website!!

  7. Emma May 8, 2007 at 10:25 pm · Reply

    Love the site. I find school disagrees with me for the most part because of the structure and having to learn someone else’s curriculum. However, there are parts that are helpful to learning, and I’m wondering how to replicate those on your own. For instance, group discussions and interactions with fellow classmates are fun and can provide new perspectives and energy on a topic. I find it hard to always sustain that kind of energy on my own. And while I have friends I can talk to about what I’m learning, they aren’t usually studying the same exact book or topic in-depth so it’s not the same as what I would get in a classroom. The second thing is the benefit of a teacher can be that, rather than just tell you what to learn, they can see gaps in your thinking that maybe you couldn’t see on your own–and suggest directions that you might not have thought of or come across as readily. Could you write about how to meet these needs while self-educating? Thanks!

  8. admin May 10, 2007 at 12:11 pm · Reply

    Emma – thanks for the compliment. You certainly have some valid concerns. I too have dealt with some of these issues while trying to learn on my own . I’ll be addressing these questions in future blog posts…so stay tuned. :o)

  9. Patti September 25, 2007 at 11:20 am · Reply

    I homeschool, and was at a loss as to how to teach some of the subjects my son has to learn. I think this is a great site, and will get him started immediately on a couple of courses he needs. Thanks for this awesome site!!

  10. Bob Rimkus October 9, 2007 at 10:51 pm · Reply

    Great site!

    As a retired educator, I really agree with what you have to say.

  11. Brian Moo April 13, 2008 at 5:21 pm · Reply

    This is an excellent website! I’m a highschool student bored out of his mind in school, and I really want to learn what I want to. Thanks for making this website.

  12. smita June 6, 2008 at 8:13 pm · Reply

    This is a wonderful webbsite. I am happy to discover this site from google search. Hopefully, to an extent, this site will fulfill my thirst for knowledge. Thanks for creating this site. Thanks a lot.

  13. Smi June 6, 2008 at 8:15 pm · Reply

    Cool website. Now I can learn a lot of things on my own, thats great. Thanks.

  14. smita July 11, 2008 at 2:47 am · Reply

    Great site, I benefited a lot from this and on my way towards grand success

  15. Ajay January 20, 2009 at 1:15 am · Reply

    I enjoyed reading your site. I am an autodidactist(self learner) myself and whatever knowledge I have gained, I’m self taught. My education really began only after my graduation. Classroom learning was never my cup of tea as sensitivity was lacking. For learning sensitivity is essential.

    A computer is of great aid for this kind of learning as there is no body language to distract you, no one to compete with but it has more to do with understanding yourself and your relationship with the universe.

  16. Nancy Sweeney February 17, 2009 at 6:49 am · Reply

    I found your article quite useful and interesting. I have bookmarked the site for later usage. Nancy

  17. Bullion Grey February 21, 2009 at 10:22 am · Reply

    thank you for your stunning achievement. I have been presenting self education as the front runner to all that is coming as the golden key.

  18. okhamza February 26, 2009 at 12:02 am · Reply

    Discoverd a new way of learning

    Kind regards

  19. Richard A Marti JR February 27, 2009 at 4:59 am · Reply

    Deeply thankful. What a great collection of resources for self learning. As an autodidactist myself, this site makes the searching much more productive.

  20. Storm March 7, 2009 at 5:06 pm · Reply

    I “stumbled” across this site today and I am so glad I did! I now feel inspired to teach myself and believe your site will help guide me in my quest for more knowledge. I’m encouraged by the fact that I am no alone in this.

    • Janis Lobza November 3, 2010 at 6:00 pm · Reply

      You certainly are not alone in this. Like you, I stumbled across this site and am ever so grateful I did. I consider myself a lifetime student and this will be an extremely useful tool in my endeavors. Keep on learning!

  21. Bree☮ March 12, 2009 at 7:10 pm · Reply

    I love this site! I can see myself coming back and using it to help me expand my education. Thanks!

  22. Alfredo March 15, 2009 at 2:35 pm · Reply

    Solamente se puede decir una sola cosa para los que somos amantes del: Conocimiento, Aprendizaje, Libros, de esos viejos y jovenes que nos han dejado un legado incalculabe y que por desgracia muchas veces no se le da el valor que realmente merece y que a criterio de su humilde servidor ha sido el gran cimiento de la humanidad que a permitido a través de la alquimia forjar la sociedad actual en la que vivimos.
    Alfredo

  23. rebecca March 15, 2009 at 8:10 pm · Reply

    hi im just wondering how all of this works?
    do i get a degree when studies are finished?

  24. Nick March 30, 2009 at 7:47 pm · Reply

    iLove
    this
    site

  25. DRK April 22, 2009 at 10:33 am · Reply

    LOVE this site! I will be visiting again soon!

    It is about time someone came up with something like this. I have been an independent learner for a long while now and I can tell you that I have learned more this way then I ever did in (indoctrination camp) school.

    I am glad that someone else out there has such a strong recognition of independent learning’s value, especially an ex-teacher (that says a lot!)

  26. Carolyn May 5, 2009 at 10:06 pm · Reply

    Hello and glad to see what you are doing here. I am currently studying nursing, but I am looking ahead to a BSN and was exploring prerequisites that are outdated that I might teach myself so that I can clep them. That is only one part of my interest though.

    Never having had the luxury of just going and choosing anything I would like to study, I am now of an age where that is exactly what motivates me. I intend to read the classics, learn wood-working, work on my sewing, and read history. I will be designing my own curriculum and will be documenting my journey in either a blog or a diary. It is an exciting way to approach 60 at the same time I am embarking on my third career. Thanks for what you are doing here. Carolyn

  27. Rose June 2, 2009 at 9:59 pm · Reply

    I am really liking this website. I’ve been looking for different things like this to learn as much as possible in my life time.

  28. Carnation August 3, 2009 at 5:05 pm · Reply

    WOW!, Unbelievable!. I love SELF MADE SCHOLAR!
    I finally found what I’ve been looking for all along, and It’s time for me to stop searching for something I wasn’t exactly sure what it was but it was definately something to do with Knowledge. I’m definately going to start trying to read those Great Western Classics, Thank You! A link to Self made scholar will stay put for good on/in my Blog! Thanks again, Keep it up!

  29. praveena yeleswarapu August 30, 2009 at 3:54 am · Reply

    It helped a lot for my reference of my teacher training programme thanx a lot.

  30. sandrar September 10, 2009 at 2:07 pm · Reply

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

  31. Satya October 1, 2009 at 2:58 pm · Reply

    Thank you for all of your effort here. I’m amazed at the knowledge you’ve amassed and are willing to share. I can’t wait to dig in more!

  32. avs December 7, 2009 at 8:08 pm · Reply

    Thanks so much! Im in eighth grade and move a lot faster than my peers and Im tired of wasting so much time on useless information and review. I already take several independent study-type courses and am looking into self educating for high school. The only hurdles are my parents and the fact that i still want to go to college….

  33. Teresa January 19, 2010 at 11:40 am · Reply

    I just came across your site. Thank you so much for the great resources.

  34. Iskandar Joned March 10, 2010 at 1:15 am · Reply

    Hi Self-Made-Scholar,

    This is unbelievably Greaaaat idea! Quality material with quality representation. I cannot imagine if my fellow learners at the University of the People upon realizing the S-M-S will start sneaking in to explore all the valuable knowledge on this site.

    Great effort and all the best.

  35. islem June 2, 2010 at 11:20 am · Reply

    I really want to be a member on this site and thanks

  36. Janis Lobza November 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm · Reply

    An absolute Godsend! I consider myself a lifelong student in need of some sort of home base. Well….this is it. I’m excited to utilize the information this site offers.
    God bless you folks for putting this thing together!!!

  37. Bullion Grey May 28, 2012 at 4:29 am · Reply

    If we start self learning for everyone, the financial crisis in education will evaporate!
    After all: you are your own best teacher, you can learn what you want to learn, and you can learn how to learn faster if you learn your own way that you learn! Why isn’t every school teaching before every semester how to learn?

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