Does Self-Education Really Exist?

by David · 9 comments

I received a few e-mails after I posting about the ‘The big self-education project’ from a few readers who said that successfully learning so much on my own is almost impossible and that I’m at a great disadvantage for not going to university. These readers had my best interest at heart and I appreciate their concern.

Learning everything on your own is difficult. Extremely difficult.

But I have to ask this question:

Does self-education really exist?

That might sound like a strange question, but honestly think about it.

What have you learned without assistance?

I know I haven’t learned much on my own, if anything.

When I go to the gym I learn from those with more experience.
When I search google I rely on information published by others.
When I read a book the author presents me with new facts and ideas.
When I study languages I have friends who correct my mistakes.
As I learn to draw I’ll be guided by other artists.
As I learn to program I’ll seek wisdom from other programmers.

I agree that learning on your own can be difficult, but I don’t agree that means you need university.

Why do we ‘need’ University when the world is a bigger classroom with teachers around every corner?  We don’t.

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  • Jack Shone

    Very true, I also chose not to go to university, As long as you know what you want to do and have the motivation, learning is not in the slightest bit hard it just takes time.

    Plus there’s no unwanted lectures, you can get up and stretch your legs etc. which makes it more enjoyable. In the same amount of time I’m sure out of a person in uni and a person learning on there own, the person learning on there own would learn more mainly because of the enjoyment they get out of it, as the resources are practically the same.

    The problem is that there isn’t a “degree” at the end, which puts a lot of people off, but I’m sure just showcasing your knowledge to a potential employer would get you that job quite often.

  • Hi David,
    As a 14 year veteran of homeschooling, I believe strongly in the advantages of self-education. (Homeschooling often leads to independent self-study as children become adults.) It’s a risky path to be sure, but it can be done. One of the perks of self-study is the insight into human nature. We’ve learned that people, in general, are uncomfortable with uncommon education choices. Some feel threatened by it, others bewildered. But, all responses have offered us the opportunity to hone our communication skills, clarify our reasoning, and strengthen our determination.
    Good luck with your journey!

    • Thank you so much!

      How has home schooling served those you’ve home shoaled in their professional lives?
      I’d be interested in finding out more!

  • Sara

    University gives you a degree that you will need to looking for a job. But obviously the knowledge that you acquires by yourself is very useful and more interesting!!

  • David D.

    Self-education exists. Tutors might really be important when a particular skill or subject of your interest is nearing its end of knowledge. This means that often people who are focused on one thing, reach the point where they consider “there is nothing else I can learn on this matter”

    That’s where tutors/mentors/assistants/professors… come to play by re-introducing an already known concept from a different angle. But you don’t need to follow this guideline in order to maximize efficiency and knowledge in subjects. You can simply RISK and PUSH the limits. That’s the true self-experience. And you gain that solely by yourself. When you stretch out and do something others don’t, you extended the subject and therefor the knowledge itself.

    I haven’t done ANYTHING right with mentors. I done everything right by myself. I support self-learning more than anything else 🙂

  • Gul Ozturk

    I always say that “Wikipedia and Youtube together is the best university”. And now we have specific Websites as online community colleges also. I really like to choose what I topic I will learn and when. When you attend the university, isn’t it waste of much time, money and maybe even motivation sometimes? -(when you have to struggle with cruel professors) Today we have a great open library on Web. We even have visual tutorial videos, giving us the opportunity to learn playing guitar even and this is just one example. I have been learning languages on my own since 3 years and learning was never such fun. On the other hand “degree” is not a nice fact for people who likes flexible self-learning unfortuately. But I am just hoping that the companies will adapt themselves to this new world and people will be able to get jobs without wasting their nicest years outside, running after a paper. Thank you so much for this article David Mansaray. It is really so nice to see more people think that self-learning is possible. I wish you success with your studies.

  • Andrew Moorehead

    When people attend a college, they become obligated to show up to class and have the teacher feed the subject to them. With “self-study”, one saves money, has to be self-motivated, and have to use their brains more in order to process the information so it can become knowledge, then become understood, and eventually applied in life.

    • No matter what we learn we will need assistance in some way. I don’t believe ‘self-education’ exists as much as people like to think, however I’m a big believer in ‘self-directed’ learning. When we take control of what we want to learn and how we want to do it.

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