Archive for the ‘autodidact’ Category

learning something for nothing

in the classic star wars saga the way to teach another the religion, and practices of being a jedi was through apprenticeship. in most cases in history the apprenticeship is free. the learner typically lived under the patronage of the teacher, it was an all expenses paid education, well at least financially. it would be difficult to find a decent apprenticeship these days for pay. regardless one of the best benefits of learning is that it is so fundamental and inherent, that it’s free.

free education is mostly spoken of as some ideal, but the reality is that it is not an ideal but something real very real. being an autodidact means that you learn for free. learning is one of the few  abilities that we are actually born with. previously in the autodidact post i stressed that learning has happened far before formal school systems existed. the free price tag is one of the greatest benefits of being self-taught.

the cost benefit of the college student is insane. looking at the chart below (from a columbia university study) you see that the college graduate’s salary contributes more financially to the system. this is a cost benefit to society, having a productive member contribute ideas, new thinking, and consuming products.

well college students pay time and money into the system for that benefit, but it is possible to get the same benefits without paying the money. the autodidact knows this, but the cost is not what drives them, it is the learning itself.

this idea is becoming more and more prominent due to the web, the hope is that it becomes highly practiced. in my autodidact post i listed sites that led in open courseware. the new york times recently did something similar in it’s article learning something for nothing.

one gift from the autodidact

previously i posted about what an autodidact was; someone who is self-taught. one quality of this type of person that i mentioned was the disposition or the willingness to learn. speaking for myself, i have always had a disposition for learning. question is, if you don’t have a disposition, how do you get one?


developing a disposition is possible, but it depends on what you are trying to learn. based on what we know about motivation there has to be ownership involved. you must feel like you have the greatest benefit from what you are learning. starting in a place of interest would be a great idea.

finding interests could be a difficult task so prepare to try and fail. interest is only gaining access to what could potentially make you feel purpose while learning. purpose is the key.

this young man is the prime example of having a purpose. this is william kamkwamba the boy who harnessed the wind. william on his own learned different aspects of physics, and irrigation. going to a library he set out on a quest to make his village better, something he achieved. this is a picture of his windmill which brought power to a village that had little.

william is an autodidact that distributed his disposition into something that gave purpose. people in his village thought that he was insane, but soon realized that he was embarking on something that would change life for their village.

think of the gift that is in this story what does it mean to be self-taught, to direct your own learning? well, it means that what matters to you takes you to new heights of understanding.

devising a world take over could not happen without the disposition for learning.

Categories: autodidact Tags: ,

i don’t want it i need it

in a harvard study juliet schor found a potential gem, in the idea of american work progression; she suggested americans were now spending more hours working so that they could buy things. this is nothing new because people have had an obsession with things for centuries. think about the glitz and glam surrounding some of the earliest societies.

juliet also sights a shift in the way the people spend money. she argues that keeping up with the jonses has turned into keeping up with the gateses or the jobses. suggesting that comparisons to people in the same income bracket are not the common focal points anymore. according to her media drives spending and there is a new trend of upscaling; always having the latest and the newest.

the media has a very pronounced bias towards showing upscaled or affluent consumption. a sitcom family that’s supposed to

be “middle-American/ordinary American”almost always lives a $100,000 year plus lifestyle. that is they almost always have an

affluent lifestyle only achievable with an income in that top twenty percent. they live in great big houses,they have two late model

cars,they have lovely wardrobes—it’s a fiction that they’re average. the popular sitcom friends is a good example of this. here’s

a group of young kids in manhattan,who may or may not even have employment, you know sometimes they do and sometimes

they don’t,and it’s not lucrative employment and yet they live in the great big fabulous new york apartment.

whether the argument is valid or not i cannot say yet because i have not delved that far into the video done to support the research, but let’s assume that through logic that this is true; that the media does influence the need to “upscale.”  well how can you break that influence?

a change in perspective

the truth is that you have a choice, you choose what you would like to value. do you really need an iphone, well do you? i own an iphone, and the reason is that it’s a phone that was made with high quality materials, and the most durable phone in existence in att’s current line. however, although i enjoy the bells and whistles, i could get by just fine with a cheaper phone. my problem was that for me cheaper phones always broke and i would have to pay for replacement costs because usually it was my fault.

so, on with the argument, you can change your perspective because all media does is give you an offering. become informed and start thinking longterm, as if you were an investor. by taking on this perspective you can actually quantify what standing you will be in in 10 years or 20 years. the thought could make you feel really secure. if you think about your savings account as profiting; which it is in a sense, you will turn saving into a game. how much money can you retain this week, how about next? here is a simple analysis to get rid of what you may consider unnessecary reguar spending; subscription spending. first you should code the formula by creating a list of all of your subscriptions, and applying a number of value to them depending on how many subscriptions you have. give them a ranking of greatest value to least value. after that it is simple (value x time (hours per week) = value added). this will help you consider the lifestyle you don’t want to lead. think about the friends analogy, how often in the script do you just see them in front of a television?  if what the researcher suggests is true then television and media are a complete paradox. you are watching people do and experience something that you could on your own. think about those things when you are assigning value to your subscriptions. finally, you could even make a chart to see if there is something that just does not give enough value added. create another list next to your assigned values that ranks the value added for each subscription. then in the value added list next to value added right the cost in terms of months, weeks, years, and think about your spending.

here are some strategies for getting passed upscaling stuff

think of the storage of the consumption of those offerings as a swiss army knife.

  1. it would be easy to imagine that you would have a limited amount of space in your swiss army knife. the tools in the knife are only useful at specific times.
  2. what is the most useful and enjoying tool in your knife?
  3. i once had a graduate student intern that suggested that slaying dragons was how she referred to overcoming problems. so that begs the question, which tools do not help you slay your current dragons maybe you can equip that tool later, and make use of something more effective now.
  4. are you truly convinced that the things you buy are the best for the job you need it to do. please do some research on information literacy, you could start by checking this post out. information literacy will help you become an intelligent consumer and allow you to make informed decisions.
  5. apply the value added analysis to all things you want to buy this year that you don’t necessarily need which ones will make the cut, its a potential value added analysis.

a swiss army knife of information

here is a list of previous posts that can be of assistance on this topic:

autodidact (for info literacy information)

new vs. old vs. leased (informed decisions about your auto bills)

media solutions (alternatives to cable)

minimalist definitions (quality vs. quantitiy)


i have been waiting for some time to do this post. have you ever heard the word autodidact? this word is a big part of my life, and a major reason for my rise from nothing. if you want more on my background read the soul searching article.

what is an autodidact

“i felt so inspired by what my teacher said, said i’d either be dead or be a reefer head, that’s not how adults should speak to kids….” -jay z

an autodidact is a word for a person who engages in learning without the formal structure of school. an autodidact is self-taught, and or more clearly their method of learning is self-directed.

think about the idea of learning itself. we learn all the time, everyday, and have been doing so for a very long time. the term itself was derived in ancient times from the fact that people who lived in isolation for most of their lives could still discover simple truths without any formal education.  think good will hunting, and if you have never seen good will hunting there is a trailer below, highly recommended.

having the disposition

the important thing about learning is not the actual act of learning but having a disposition for learning. as i am currently conducting a formal literature review on critical thinking, the research shows that it is more effective to measure critical thinking skills after you have measured critical thinking dispositions. learning is no different, and a disposition simply means you must be willing to learn. to what degree are you willing to learn?

are you truly open minded, truly. well no one is truly open-minded, but to what degree do you have a disposition to learn new things. having a disposition for learning will only move you forward.

how do autodidacts learn?

if you are here that is a great example of self-directed learning. it is you experiencing minimalism through someone else’s experiences that may lead you to some form of enlightenment. your learning of being a minimalist is self-directed, and therefore you are practicing a quality of being an autodidact. however being an autodidact by definition is more than just subscribing to a couple of blogs, and reading a few books. by definition let’s not forget that you must have some type of structure that would allow for retention, of a topic. you must structure your own learning to accommodate any goals or objectives you have.

it is also common for an autodidact to gain knowledge of let’s say something like agriculture not through class, but possibly going to work a farm. in the movie batman begins we see bruce wayne go into the japanese underworld to understand those criminals he wishes to influence. it’s the age old tale of the apprentice and the master, old school education. bruce wayne gets a perspective that is un-tainted and as a result fully understands what drives poverty and crime, and can therefore combat those things where they need to be combated. it is a lesson in information literacy.

information literacy

have you ever heard of someone agreeing with someone else for no good factual reason. it is probably because that person does not have a high degree of literacy when it comes to deciphering information. part of being an autodidact is opening your mind to things that you have convictions not to accept, and by doing so gaining experiences that you would not have gotten otherwise.

information literacy is always asking why, and learning how to find answers on your own. not settling with a statistic that you hear through the media, but rather researching it on your own to see why. it is also knowing how to find information, like being aware of how google’s search engine works opposed to other search engines. for a more clear definition of info literacy watch this video.

open courseware and online tutorials

in the age of the web, it is easier to access information. many prominent universities are now publishing full courses, and majors on the web. google open courseware some time. there are also credible professionals who give youtube tutorials on a variety of topics. here are a couple of resources that you can use: