Autodidact Vs. Higher Education

Posted May 5, 2011 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Education / 0 Comments

While I love considering myself as an autodidact, my thirst for knowledge is growing so strong, that now I am considering going to uni to study a Bachelor of Arts focusing in English Literature – there are probably heaps of subjects I would love to study, but I think this one will suit me best.

For those who are unsure autodidacticism is learning on your own and an autodidact is someone that teaches themselves. I have developed my own education philosophy, in which I try to learn or make sense of something every week and then write about it in a blog post. I have this fear that I might be wrong or missing interesting elements of a topic. The other draw card to studying this via a university is the degree; who knows, it might get me a job, working in a field I’m passionate about.

The drawback of going to study – for me – is the fear that the classroom may kill my passion for learning. Over the past few years, this passion has been growing and growing; what started with Culture, expanded into Art History, Literature, Philosophy and now Educational Theories. I know that all these topics go hand in hand, but if I lose my passion, what will I do then?

I’ve been left with a difficult decision and while I’m worried about it, I think my thirst for knowledge far outweighs my fears. Though I think I will start out small; I will start with something basic (as I will need to study part time) and just take the subject in Critical reading.

I would love to know others’ thoughts in Autodidact verses Higher Education and I would love to know how others journey into higher learning went.

0 responses to “Autodidact Vs. Higher Education

  1. I consider myself an autodidact as well. However, I think we need teachers. Of course, most will not disagree. Where would Phillip Glass be without Nadia Boulanger or Ravi Shankar? The trouble is finding good teachers.

    I’ve completed two graduate degrees as an adult and I can say most of my professors were un-curious ridiculous morons. But the few that weren’t have helped make the experience life changing.

    Take some writing courses while you’re there. It will help counteract the soul-sucking you’ll probably experience in an English Lit. Dept.

  2. I do plan on doing some writing subjects (and maybe a few other subjects that will go towards a Bachelor of Arts), I’m really excited in starting, but I have to wait till next year.

  3. I’m an autodidact. I have a great respect for teachers. I just prefer learning on my own.

    Have you thought about auditing classes? That way you could see if the classroom is for you now without committing. My great aunt started college when she was in her sixties. She got a degree in something (not sure what), but then she continued auditing classes well into her eighties.

  4. I think it’s great that you want to go back to school and get a degree. I wouldn’t worry about the classroom stifling that thirst for knowledge. I love taking classes, and even when the teacher isn’t the best I have enough internal motivation to make the most of it. You seem to be the same. No doubt if you do go the full four years for a Bachelors you’ll have a range of teachers, not all of whom will be great. Classroom discussions can be challenging and invigorating. I can imagine anything about it will dampen your passion for learning, that’s something that comes from inside you. Good luck!

  5. IMHO, a lot depends upon the quality of the university and its teaching faculty. I’ve taken courses where I’ve walked away wishing that I had just read the books and saved my money on tuition, and I’ve had others where the teachers truly inspired me, or led me down paths I would never have noticed before.

    Formal education also affords you 1.) time to focus on leaning and 2.) access to libraries, equipment, facilities and expertise.

    In general I’ve noticed that older students get the most out of their courses, do the best work, ask the best questions in class, etc, because they truly value education. My sense is that you’re probably just the sort of person who would get the most out of attending a university–as long as it’s a reasonably good one.

  6. Victoria

    I found my way here via GoodReads and Literary Explorations- thought I’d throw my two cents in on the university question.

    For me, university switched on my brain like nothing else had before. I had always done well in secondary school, but I was pretty much cruising on autopilot and really disliked the rigidity of the HSC syllabus. When I got to uni I luckily stumbled into a course that I was hugely passionate about, international relations & development economics (neither of which are really offered at the high school level). In my spare elective subjects I filled up my timetable with literature classes like ‘Literature of Revolution’ and ‘The Great American Dream’ which allowed incorporate my favourite pastime with my study as well.

    Absolutely try out uni and see how you like it! There will always be a couple of smartasses in every tutorial that will drive you nuts, and every now and then you might get a dud lecturer, but the vast majority of my uni experience has been brilliant.

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