master-self-learning-autodidactism

How To Start and Master Self Learning (Autodidacticism)

Each and every one of us has our innate curiosities. Curiosity is often what leads us to self-study.  Self-study leads to the self-learning bug of autodidacticism.

If you are unfamiliar with autodidacticism, here’s a quick description by Wikipedia:

Autodidacticism (also autodidactism) or self-education (also self-learning and self-teaching) is education without the guidance of masters (such as teachers and professors) or institutions (such as schools). Generally, an autodidact is an individual who chooses the subject they will study, their studying material, and the studying rhythm and time. An autodidact may or may not have formal education, and their study may be either a compliment or an alternative to it. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autodidacticism 

In other words, when the education system can’t be trusted, and we want to figure something out ourselves, we become a form of an autodidact.

Self-learning is where almost all fields have started, sometimes sparked by educational curiosity, while other times from an internal drive that paves a future path (think: Elon Musk and getting to Mars).

Think about it — before school or formal education, people tried to figure things out…

Problem-solving became the means of which people obtained information (instead of a few thumbs and a smartphone). It’s here that people began to develop the knack for knowledge.

As most people end up figuring out, knowledge is addicting. It breeds something called curiosity. The exact mindset which started the journey of figuring out the first bit of information.

Self Learning Starts With Curiosity

Curiosity is an interesting idea. We become curious about something, and therefore explore it more in-depth.

Modern schooling tries to force curiosity in a time-constrained manner. Although, curiosity is something that can lead to amazing discoveries if genuine and normally not under the guise of a time-sensitive consequence (an A or an F in School).

That’s a big problem. The mindset of constrained and forced curiosity leads to the misunderstanding of our potential. We stop trying to figure things out and instead rely on the hierarchy.

To start self learning, we need to abandon those beliefs.

Completely.

We have to restructure the system and realize that curiosity is a call to learn more about something unique and amazing.

That’s where you begin.

What are you currently curious about?

On my podcast you’ve often heard me ask the question, “what are you questioning?”

Here are some examples:

  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Life
  • How doorknobs work (queue slight chuckle)
  • Why we play sports
  • The reason that humans are attracted to each other
  • How copywriting works

The list is infinitely long.

To start self-learning, you need to find a few different questions you’ve been curious about.

Research Comes Next

In school, we aren’t taught to research.

We’re told that researchers conduct X experiments, or researchers figured out Y, but not what or whom researchers are.

You are a researcher, and just about every other human on planet Earth.

To start self-learning, you need to put on your research hat and get ready to comb through information.

Self-learning doesn’t mean you find people who’ve already figured out the answers but instead utilize that information to create a holistic picture.

Remember, you are a researcher.

All you have to do is start finding information that fits the model that you are trying to build, and if you don’t know what that model is, start with a thought…

Silence is true wisdom’s best friend.

Euripides

Where Do You Find Information?

While human beings have an innate curiousity, they also have something called a bias.

A bias is:

A preference or an inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment.

https://www.wordnik.com/words/bias

While we need first to figure out where to find information, this is something that needs to stay top of mind.

People (including myself within this article) write with a bias of what they know, and not with the absence of judgment.

On the other hand, information is just about everywhere.

Google becomes the first start for almost anyone looking to start learning about something. “I’ll just google it.”

It makes sense as it contains the least amount of friction, although the search results typically are optimized solely for search and monetization by the Google algorithm.

I’m going to dive into this problem of the availability of information in a moment, but at this point, we need to start somewhere.

Which means google is fine, at the beginning.

After you’ve done preliminary research, or begin to piece together the model of what you are trying to learn, that’s where we leave google and most blog posts/article altogether.

Why aren’t articles productive when it comes to self learning?

This leads to a longer conversation, but one that we can sum up in the difference between short and long thoughts.

Short and Long Thought

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and often Youtube utilize short thoughts as their main means of communication and response provocation.

Limiting characters, designing the platform for short thoughts, and teaching us to believe surface level thoughts happen when we use social media as a means of knowledge acquistion.

These are considered short thoughts.

Small snippets of information, often not entirely thought out, that provoke some sort of response, and don’t require much in depth thought.

Self-learning requires much in-depth thought.

I mean that is the whole point.

Building a model off of choppy one-liners will lead to something mirroring that of the game telephone.

Long thoughts are often a lot more thought out.

A book, documentary, or movie contains an amazing amount of time and deliberate thought. Thought that contributes to the entirety of the piece and the message that it conveys.

When we autodidacts start to explore something, short thoughts are important, but when we build a model, finding in-depth well-researched thoughts always lead to a more complete better-functioning model.

Where Can You Find Long Thoughts?

One of the media giants is home to the largest selection of books known to man, Amazon.

Other resources include:

  • Pubmed (perfect for scientific literature and studies)
  • Wikipedia (look for their sources)
  • Your local library
  • Documentaries
  • Books, books, and more books
  • Self Research
  • Silence

A few of these may surprise you. 

Depending on the focal point of your learning, you may want to conduct self research and start to formulate your own longer thoughts upon the model that you are constructing.

Silence also comes into play as a means of combining and allowing the information to collaborate in one’s mind. 

Although, as you create your model you’ll start to encounter counter information counter to the theory you are constructing.

Which is important in either the solidification of your working theory or the degradation of it.

Leading to a concept that any one with autodidactism should study well.

Triangulation of Information

Information can support all theories. It’s bits of data spread throughout the universe.

From the movement of an atom to the “proof” a study reveals about weight loss, the entirety of humanity is created via information in the form of energy (light).

Upon creating a model of anything, we often encounter a lot of counter-information.

Anything that runs completely against your working theory, somehow creating self-doubt in what you are becoming self-taught in.

Contrary to popular belief this is important. Anyone who’s ever been in a debate knows what it is like when you lack a crucial piece of information that your opponent knows. Leading to either embarrassment or a loss in whatever is being debated.

Learning the information that breaks down your theory often has the biggest benefit in solidifying the model being formulated. Which is the basis of triangulating information.

Turn on FOX, CNN, NBC, CNBC, and Alex Jones, and you’ll see a single news story told in many different ways.

While this comes back to the bias that we were talking about earlier, it also is an unmasking of different models created by information counter to one another.

Models are constructive and intricate networks of information, meaning that one piece of information can’t create nor destroy a model. Our models will always be most significant to the knowledge that has built it up (and often the ego; more on ego in a moment).

By actively seeking out information that challenges your theory, you create a complete picture of the theory, create a more durable model, or become able to reconstruct it entirely.

Vegans often change and become meatarians (only eating meat) because of the slight change in the understanding of nutrition in anatomy.

Republicans become Democrats because they learn one thing that challenges their current way of living (and vice versa).

Maybe this sounds like something crazy, but it highlights a bigger issue in self-learning, one that often plagues those that embark on it.

Intellectual Honesty and The Pitfalls of Self Learning

Whether you are an academic or fast food worker, you are smart in many subjects others aren’t.

Of course, this also means that others are smart in many subjects that you are not. Although, ego often becomes the deciding factor in whether someone can become a truly successful self-learner.

Do you cringe when someone challenges what you know? Do you hate the introduction of new information to your being?

These are massive problems.

What’s the number one way to create an environment conducive to autodidactism while shutting down the ego?

Intellectual Honesty

An applied method of problem solving, characterized by an unbiased, honest attitude, which can be demonstrated in a number of different ways.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_honesty

Practicing the self-less acquisition of knowledge building creates a more unbiased and solid model.

In an environment of information and ego based opinion pieces, how can one stay sane and intellectually honest?

The Chasm of The Internet and Self-Learning Yourself Into Delerium

The internet houses everything and anything that you’ve ever thought about. Google works by knowing and guessing those thoughts as you type them out.

The problem begins when we google our way into delirium hoping to “learn” everything, but finding out we know nothing.

Which is the state of knowledge: The more you learn the less you feel you know.

Interestingly, this is the hard part for self learners. We question most knowledge that seems completely 100% true. Everything fades in and out, and as we saw above, constructing a model means you’ll be faced with both sides of what seems 100% true.

Falling into the chasm of the internet can be a dangerous road.  Yes, you will learn a lot, but you won’t really know the information.

That’s where silence and thought come in, allowing for the digestion and internalization of the information that we have aimed to congregate into this model.

After the stage of all knowing fades off, and intellectual honesty comes back, back off from google and most sources of information for a bit as you construct your own unique knowledge model.

Your Checklist for Self-Learning (Feeding The Autodidact Inside of You)

  • Start by finding some curiosity that you’ve had for a while.
  • Conduct preliminary research and start to formulate a theory about what you’ve been curious about.
  • Seek out long form thoughts that can help aid you in building your knowledge.
  • Practice Intellectual Honesty when and if the time comes.
  • Relax and allow the information to digest.
  • Be happy in knowing that you have become a self learning autodidact.

While it might sound difficult to embark on the autodidact journey, it’s something we all can benefit from.

It makes us shed our cocoon and once again start to learn on our own. While that might seem something minor, the more we think, and we think critically, the better world can become.

Thanks for reading, 

Austin

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