Many successful men and women have been self taught. Some didn’t even start college. Examples of three modern autodidacts (self-educated) are Michael Dell (Dell Computers), Bill Gates (Microsoft), and Steve Jobs (Apple). Lest you think autodidacts are only in the computer industry, consider also Nikola Tesla, Jane Goodall, and George Washington. All of these men and women have proven that a formal education is not a prerequisite for success. This article will explain four fundamental principles of self education.
Principle 1: Have a Goal
The first principle of self education is having a goal. How are you going to use what you learn? Are you going to get a job with your new found knowledge? Are you going to create something, or make a new discovery? Maybe you want to solve a problem. Whatever it is you want to do, make sure to have a clear vision of it.
Principle 2: Make a Road Map
Once you know where you’re going, you need to understand how to get there. This will take considerable research in your subject of choice. Write down foundational and advanced concepts of the subject. See how the concepts relate to one another and how each concept will build upon previous ones. Along with this, you must know the skills that you will need to put certain concepts to work. Put those skills in your concept hierarchy so you understand the order of learning.
Principle 3: Follow Your Map and Don’t Take Shortcuts
Once you have your road map, you can begin to follow it. Start your study of foundational concepts and practice them as you go. Don’t take shortcuts, because any future knowledge will build upon what you’ve already learned. As your knowledge and skills increase, begin to study advanced concepts and skills. Put your newfound knowledge to work as a way to test yourself.
Principle 4: Strive for Excellence
Your educational journey has begun, and as you continue to travel, you will need to maintain your motivation and desire for excellence. It may be that your goal requires that you prove your competence to others. Striving for excellence means you put your knowledge into a form that you can show to others. Without a formal educational degree, you will have to work hard to prove that you are just as capable as anyone else.
The process of self learning is not easy. Truth be told, it may be the hardest thing you do. Without hands on tutors and teachers, you are flying solo and are in complete control of your educational destiny. On top of that, you may have to deal with doubt and criticism from others. Know this though: Self education is one the most valuable educations you can obtain. Once you’ve reached your goal, you will have surmounted an incredible obstacle and joined the ranks of the great self educated.