Today the dictionary app on my phone hit me with this word of the day, which got me thinking:
Autodidact (noun [aw-toh-dahy-dakt]): a person who has learned a subject without the benefit of a teacher or formal education
In schools and universities across the country, administrators work to indoctrinate parents and students with the idea that if one wants to become proficient, one must do so within a formal educational system. I’m not here to disparage that idea, but I have met many an accomplished individual that either dropped out of the system or never walked those hallowed halls in the first place – which, at least, raises questions about what the “right way” might be. I’ll never forget my first project manager in construction who proudly pointed out that he’d risen to his station without ever going to school (he also told me that my degree was a waste of time, which I don’t believe is true, either).
I see it both ways. Getting a degree and learning under formal teachers is a time-honored, well-worn path. But it’s certainly NOT the only path. If you want to learn a new subject or become more proficient in your current focus area, then you are in luck – today, more than ever before, education is accessible to you outside of the formal system.
Whether you want to become a guitar player, learn a language, or become a coder – you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on classes. Many of the resources you need to learn are available for free, including college-level courses – check out sites like Coursera, MIT’s OpenCourseWare, OpenCulture, and edX. Now, you can get an education from your couch without spending a dime.
So how about it? Why not become an “Autodidact” today and finally pursue that previously postponed passion?