When learning is an individual effort

AUTODIDACTISM

When learning is an individual effort

Trisha Bhattacharya gives tips on how students can learn on their own.

University degrees and diplomas might facilitate the basic aim of formal education. However, not everyone has the means to access this framework of erudition.

Those held back by financial uncertainties, or those, who, out of preference, still, choose to learn on their own, without the aid of university or institutional resources, find an opportunity in autodidactism, which is self-directed learning. 

Some autodidacts (self-teachers), still do earn their basic degrees through formal routes, before taking the route of learning-by-themselves.

They prefer to learn on their own, after a point, or they cannot afford the expenses of higher education. Also, someone who already has formal education in one subject might choose to learn another, on their own. Preferences, circumstances, and limitations, thus, determine who might choose this path and who may not.

Many students, professionals and homemakers follow this route of learning. 
Some of the principles of autodidactism are given below:

Decisions and Foundations - Consideration of expenses, functions as a crucial foundation for self-directed learning, because this will decide the resources one can have access to. The costs of learning on one’s own, compared to a formal programme, will be miniscule though. At the outset, attain clarity on the subjects to be pursued, as well.

One-at-a-time - Scattering energies by attempting to study too many subjects at the same time, can lead to exhaustion accompanied by aimlessness. Stick to either one or two fields of study at a time, or follow strict time tables, for an assortment of subjects. The more narrowed, the choices, the better it is.

Fabric of Knowledge- Literature, any learning material, or texture of activity, one derives knowledge from, must be of a certain quality and standard. Therefore, choose cautiously.

Compass Driven - Autodidacts, fuel themselves with motivation from within, and their actions too, are guided by an inner compass, because there is no external teacher to monitor their progress or to guide them.

Goals and Tracks - Milestones, in autodidactism, are the off springs of the achievement of goals; goals (like chapters to finish, and assignments to complete), are, flashlights, in the dark. The absence of set goals, for students, shall definitely lead to distractions, derailment and backtracking.

Frames of Time - Adherence to strict time frames, coincide with the regular emergence of motivation, leading to eventual completion of studies. Learning not set in boundaries, may enable a student to reach the finish line, but, this delayed knowledge acquisition may not be as effectual, in the long haul.

Corresponding Interactions - Interacting intermittently, with acquaintances, friends, colleagues, and experts from one’s chosen field of study, to gauge the extent of one’s own performance, enhances overall balance. 

Application and Fruits - Autodidacts, however, in some fields, like those of architecture and medicine, might still need a formal degree, if entrepreneurship or practice is on their mind.

These rules are governed by four characteristics: Optimism, leading to intellectual and eventual monetary enrichment; discipline, in the pursuance of quality, aimed behavior, timely action, supported by a driven personality; maintaining one’s sense of worth without comparing oneself to a person pursuing a similar program, from an established university; and, respect, for the path chosen.

Books - Books and varied reading material are an outstanding resource for autodidactism. For example, if one cannot join a foreign language school, purchasing an associated book, companioned by a CD, helps.

Online Research -- Internet offers a lot of solutions for autodidacts and a wealth of online information, as search engines gladly cough up list of websites with requisite archives and collections of enormous value.  Then, then are open universities online, which offer formal courses, free of cost.

Volunteering - On field activities related to one’s choice-of-study, for example, like volunteering and participation, brings about practical empowerment to one’s theoretical knowledge.

Observation and Contemplation -- Observing and contemplating upon what other autodidacts have done previously, or are still doing, enables better application, during study-in-progress, and further on.

Short Courses Attending one or two day reputed certificate programs, which are cost-effective, are suitable additional pillars for students. Autodidactism should definitely also be complemented with formal education, if one has the means.

Thus, recollecting the legend of Eklavya (who had once learnt the skills of archery, from the great master Drona, simply by observation, respect for his master, and the practical application of skills), learn, and embark upon self-steered-discoveries, through this journey of life.

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