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Autodidacticism: Is this the future?


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To quote Matt Damon from the movie Good Will Hunting "See, the sad thing about a guy like you is, in 50 years you're gonna start doin' some thinkin' on your own and you're going to come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life: one, don't do that, and two, you dropped 150 grand on a f----n' education you could have got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library!"

 

What do Abraham Lincoln, James Watt, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Oliver Heaviside, and Steve Irwin (yes the Crocodile guy) all have in common? They never attended college. They were all self educated. Another self educated man you may not have heard of is James Marcus Bach. He wrote the code for the Apple II OS and was one of the designers of the Commodore 64.

 

With the free proliferation of knowledge on the internet and the nearly unlimited access to books and libraries around the world, do we need a college or a University to provide us with an education anymore? Is the value of a college degree worth what it costs? Most of us on this board are college educated or are in the process of becoming so. Was the degree you obtained at great personal cost and sacrifice of time and money worth what you paid for it? I mentioned before I'm now in a career field that is very different from my education. Necessity has compelled me to "catch up" so to speak with the knowledge and skill needed to excel on my own time. I considered going back to school but in terms of time and money it's out of my reach for practical purposes. And I'm finding more and more I don't need to. Everything I wish to learn is available to me to learn with a minimal investment of time money and effort.

 

The big advantage of a formal higher education is that you will get a more rounded education. That is why technical schools like DeVry and CIT are not granted accreditation. But that also means spending thousands of dollars and man hours studying subjects that will not advance your understanding of your chosen field of study. And is that "well rounded" experience really an advantage? Does it have value commensurate with the cost and effort? I used to think yes but beyond the satisfaction of knowing the answers while watching Jeopardy... now I'm not so sure.

 

Self education is not for everyone I'll grant. It requires a real commitment and a disciplined mind. And employers may not be receptive to self educated job candidates. But perhaps that will and should change as the costs of a formal education climb higher out of reach.

 

What do you all think? Hurlshot I'd be especially interested in your opinion as a professional educator.

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In the US college degrees are HS diploma 2.0 and outside of STEM or Law do more to get you a job than represent any real knowledge. This isn't to say that you won't learn anything in those classes, but if we are being honest business degrees don't teach you **** and things like Liberal Arts degrees(rare as they are) or whatever aren't going to apply to any job you're likely to get.

 

So we move into the area of self-education. Personally I've leanred more reading on my own than I have in any classroom, the majority of which I've found lacking tbh. Perhaps that just comes with the territory of the degree I'm pursuing, but that is what my experience has been. But I'm willing to be most people don't try to self-educate, because taking care of a kid while working a 40 hour a week job sucks up most of their time.

 

I'm too hungover to put much more thiught into this, but higher education costs too much and teaches too little and you should be doing some reading if you have the time.

"I am the expert, asshat." - Hurlshot

"I'm fine with humanity being wiped out" - majestic

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What do Abraham Lincoln, James Watt, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Oliver Heaviside, and Steve Irwin (yes the Crocodile guy) all have in common? They never attended college. They were all self educated. Another self educated man you may not have heard of is James Marcus Bach. He wrote the code for the Apple II OS and was one of the designers of the Commodore 64.

I guess these people really lived for what they did. Teaching yourself some skills usually means you're serious about it or at least have a good amount of interest in it, which is always a good thing. I mean, how many people just sit through school, merely hoping for the best? These people still can be good at thing X, but they will probably never be as good as someone who literally lives for thing X.

Edited by Lexx

"only when you no-life you can exist forever, because what does not live cannot die."

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for many employers, a bs or ba not related to hard sciences or engineering is less 'bout what you learned and more 'bout simple fact you achieved a multi-year goal.  is why so many undergrad bs and ba degrees is fungible. employers know a university grad spent considerable hours during a 3-5 year period pursuing degree requirements.  in the past, schools typical graded on a curve, but in touchy-feely new century, am not certain if the norm has been altered.  regardless, am gonna assume a significant 'mount o' competition is inherent in achieving a degree.  if some kinda frat boy schmoozed and cheated his way through Princeton and managed a 3.0 inspite o' learning nothing  'bout anything, the achievements is still gonna represent useful skills and abilities-- social skills is often more useful in the real world than is any kind skill one will find available in a Uni catalog. furthermore, any number o' studies has shown how, regardless o' the profession, when asked 'bout stress, University/Grad School/Med School/Law finals tend to ranks as more stressful than job related stress. 

 

yeah, a +3.0 from a good school don't prove you learned anything. so what? employers is playing the odds.  a general University degree is a good (not infallible) indicator o' potential future success in any number o' fields.  is gonna continue to be a meaningful box need for checking on job applications for a long time to come.

 

HA! Good Fun!

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"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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Sorry but is very difficult to network on a self education, I'd rather they just fix major education cost since they are a sham.

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I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

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The internet's ready availability of just about everything acts as something of a double-edged sword: true, you can likely find most texts needed to learn about a certain subject or other, but it's also easy to drown oneself in the noise generated by all the **** that goes around and is linked every day as well, it is pretty much an open invitation to forever procrastinate on that "self-education". One of the things I find with regards to the arguments in favour of autodidacticism is that, on one hand, they put a lot of weight on the singular cases where self-taught individuals found success while ignoring the fact that these usually are exceptions and not the rule; and the arguments seem to frequently overly simplify education as reading stuff off of books and so on. This notion usually ignores that there is such a thing as a learning process and that programs and courses have been designed by people who have studied and researched education and determined which is the most effective way to go about this better than most individuals would be able to do so on their own. It also ignores that several careers have a practical element to them, which cannot truly be learned just by reading theory. I for one have studied film and nowadays work more as a cinematographer and camera operator; but as someone who started out with no access to a camera or lighting equipment nor connections in the medium I likely wouldn't have been able to learn how to light a set on my own, what lights to use, filters, how to properly fill a scene and so on. I could read plenty about it all but I would have never known how and when to use an HMI or when a CTB-filtered tungsten spot refracted onto a styrofoam panel would have been enough, how far I should place a certain spot in order to produce a more natural shadow and lighting, and so on. You gain all of this through practice, and schools often provide you with the right equipment and context in which to be able to try and learn, make mistakes, experiment and so on.

 

I feel that self-education is something that can work depending on the individual. Echoing what Lexx said, some people really live for what they do, and maybe have the drive to properly educate themselves on their profession of choice. But I think that most do need an order, discipline and guide that is provided through a more traditional means of education, and it also ensures that you've essentially covered the basic general grounds for your profession and haven't heavily ignored an important component of it. Yet again I think the cases that work usually make the exceptions and not the rule, and that the Matt Damon quote above is also akin to that of the idealistic cab-driver pretending he could run the country and fix it in a day.

Edited by algroth

My Twitch channel: https://www.twitch.tv/alephg

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I'm a big proponent of trade schools, and I want our public schools to get back to offering auto shop and other practical classes to the students. I do tend to agree with Gromnir though, College is less about what you are learning and more about showing the ability to commit and complete goals. But people need to be realistic about why they are going to school and what it will amount to. We don't all get to be CEO's. Spending $150k on a liberal arts degree is dumb unless you are already rich and just looking for something to do. There are so many different avenues for getting through college, and I think choosing the one that works for you is an important part of the process. 

 

Just my quick two cents, it's a pretty massive subject.  :p

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Higher education was always there to verify ones knowledge. Whether it was being a student of famous teacher or later a famous school.

And it's only a more convenient way of valuation the person. It's more convenient to check the degree one got instead of checking knowledge and skill of every potential employee.

So I don't think autodidacticism is future. It is the past and the present also. There always will be some form of structural evaluation system for knowledge and skills of people.

Yeah Gromnir brought that point up too. I suspect anyone sharp enough to educate themselves would probably show very well in an interview. The trick is getting over the first hurdle: getting your resume past the HR director that does not see what they are looking for under you education qualifications.

 

I still believe this idea has merit in the future because as Orogun pointed out the cost of a degree is only escalating. But that will not be fixed. Period. Like healthcare (as discussed in the politics thread) there is no interest in fixing the cost, only subsidizing the ability of students to pay. And that is a dead end street. Eventually you cannot keep up. In the parlance, eventually you run out of other people's money.

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Aha, found it. The New York Times ran a piece a few years ago on MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses). Basically free online higher education that you don't get credit (other than the knowledge gained). http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/education/edlife/massive-open-online-courses-are-multiplying-at-a-rapid-pace.html

 

Of course four years later this has not has the explosion in growth I thought i might.

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As far as the actual skills attained, it's largely symbolic, something that society has determined has value. Hopefully you learn good research skills along the way but the truth of the matter is that  probably only the person who is going to grade you  will ever read that paper you spend months agonising over. It's depends the field of course. Would you consult a 'self taught' medical doctor. I think not. 

Na na  na na  na na  ...

greg358 from Darksouls 3 PVP is a CHEATER.

That is all.

 

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as an aside, am gonna note how terrible is the writing and analytical skills o' many college freshman even at well-regarded Universities.  when we first went to Cal, we were shocked by how unprepared many o' our fellow freshmen were for University level work.  you got no idea how annoying it were for Gromnir once the folks in our dorm found out we had skillz.  so, help one and then what excuse you got for not helping other twelve or thirteen or twenty folks similarly terrified o' flunking out after first year?  freaking scholarship athlete with full course load at Cal, so we had zero free time to help others.  still, kinda a **** if you aren't willing to help, yes? teach self, w/o benefit o' useful criticism, how to improve writing and analysis is gonna be tough as is a good chance you are gonna be unaware o' how/why you suck at such. 

 

with m00t court and mock trial volunteerings, Gromnir has been able to see trends in university preparedness o' students at local high schools.  writing and analysis is getting worse.  were never great, but is trending bad. 

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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I'm a big proponent of trade schools, and I want our public schools to get back to offering auto shop and other practical classes to the students. I do tend to agree with Gromnir though, College is less about what you are learning and more about showing the ability to commit and complete goals. But people need to be realistic about why they are going to school and what it will amount to. We don't all get to be CEO's. Spending $150k on a liberal arts degree is dumb unless you are already rich and just looking for something to do. There are so many different avenues for getting through college, and I think choosing the one that works for you is an important part of the process. 

 

Just my quick two cents, it's a pretty massive subject.   :p

Some people have a vocation, I never understood why some choices have to be so heavily penalized by society. Also, it is not like all liberal arts degree are the same; plenty of industries rely on the exploitation of art degrees. Mostly entertainment and product development, yet the greater benefits are being reaped by the people selling and promoting the product rather than the ones making it.

 

It is one of those cases where company decides that the value of the people that can make a good quality product is less than the ones that can sell it. Plus it proves beneficial to them since they need more developers than salespeople and god forbid that they higher ups stop lining their pockets to ensure that the developers get their fair share.

I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

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It really depends what you want to get from your education.

 

In some fields you can do it on your own, a lot of IT related stuff is covered best by people who did it at very young age as a hobby and went from there. There are some fields of science, where I would not give a broken dime to someone who would be self made man. I mean, imagine people in things like bio-engineering, medical specializations, and other highly complex fields, which require access to specialized labs and environment. Heck, even a lawyer needs some time at building his cases and presenting during classes and case studies.

 

Sure, things like history, linguistics, etc can be done via self study, as long as you are sure of the sources.

 

Is my degree worth much, nah, not really, not the degree alone, however the university gave me a broader perspective and gave me some anchors on which i might start upon when investigating something new.

 

The more valuable things are professional certificates, in case of Finance, you get CFA, CISI, CIMA, ACCA, depending what you want to do there. I wish they were more accessible during the years of studies, because once you start working, it's really hard to get time to do them. I guess that's one of the gating elements for those though, otherwise every student could get them with enough time.

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I wish they were more accessible during the years of studies, because once you start working, it's really hard to get time to do them.

 

I was the opposite. I gained my knowledge and experience through working at companies first, working myself up, then did my higher education later on at night to gain my 'credentials'. When I had both the years of experience and certificate from the course, I obtained a license in my field.

 

I breezed through the course quite easily since I had the years of technical experience compared to others who had little to no experience at all. It also helps when companies pay your tuition fees which is standard in my industry. There are no strings attached. Once I finished the course and obtained my license, I left 6 months later to work for another company. I've also been able to do some management and computer courses at Uni fully paid for by my current employer.

 

The time I found to be easier to do courses when I've been working siince I never work overtime unless I get paid to do so. If my hours say 38 a week, that's all I work. You want me to work more, then show me the money. I don't accept there's an expectation to work back and it's included in your salary. Nope that's not what it says when I signed on and I make it clear from the start. It can also come down to how valuable you are to the company and negotiating to have your fees paid for.

Edited by Hiro Protagonist
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I have a BS in Electronics Engineering. My current job is  a cross between Civil Engineer, Environmentalist, and Biologist. Needless to say I had a lot of catching up to do to my peers. For close to two years now I've been diligently doing just that  without setting foot on a campus. That has me wondering if perhaps the most indispensable part of professional advancement isn't so indispensable. But I am doing it backwards. I got the job first (somehow) and pursued the knowledge after.

 

There are some fields of study you just can't learn on your own. Electronics Engineering is one of those I think. There are a lot of hands on labs that give students the opportunity to put theory into practice. I don't expect medical doctors, veterinarians, etc. to be "self educated" either. At least I wouldn't use their services. But in fields like this you can't just read a few books and open an office either. There are boards, license requirements, internships. However, I don't think a law degree is a requirement to be admitted to the state bar. Not sure about that.

 

The driving factor here that would make self education (in lieu of college) attractive is cost. I'm curious. Does anyone have any ideas how the costs of higher education can be reduced?

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When I need credits, I typically look at decent community college programs that meet my needs. I also keep my eye out for any professional growth programs offered by my employer, or grant programs offered in my field. There are a ton of them in education, I'm not sure how common they are in other fields. Sometimes I even get paid for these along with the credits.

 

Are you a part of any professional associations? Looks like IEEE has a bunch of options, not sure how legitimate they are: https://www.ieee.org/education_careers/index.html

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The only professional organization i've ever been active in is AT&T Labs. Which I'm still a member even though I'm no longer with the company. Of course I'm familiar with IEEE and they are a great source for continuing education. Nothing you cannot get by without but it's also a decent vehicle for networking with your peers.

 

Community Colleges are a tremendous resource. I attended Miami Dade Community College for four years (part time at night) and completed half of my undergrad work there. At a fraction of the cost and hassle. The availability of night classes are essential for working professionals. It was a much harder road when I started at FAU with no night classes. I remember commenting about that to one of the academic advisors and he replied with a wave of his hand "college isn't for everybody". Of all human frailties I believe I hate condescending arrogance the most.

 

It's sad to see but many community colleges are becoming real 4-year Universities. And losing the very things that made them so valuable. I suppose that was inevitable.

 

I'm curious Hurlshot. Do you think there is value in the notion of a "well rounded education" that Universities insist on? Of the 128 credit hours I earned about 40 or so were things like humanities, psychology (I picked this one), American Literature, and endless array of history classes to choose from, etc. All of these were three credit hour classes that I had to pay for, buy books for, and spend the time working through. And off of which are required to graduate but are a distraction from my chosen field of study. It would have saved thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of ultimately useless work if those forty or so credits could have been skipped. I think Universities should behave more like Trade Schools and focus the academic programs around particular fields of study and not require students to waste time and money on superfluous classes. That would be a step to reducing the costs of a degree. Learning about the Id, the Ego, and the Superego did not help me learn to design a wireless network.

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Ah, but that psychology class did make it easier to understand all us weirdos on this forum.  :p

 

I do support the more well rounded undergraduate education for a couple reasons. I think it creates a good balance and exposes a young student to different disciplines. The idea that you fully know what you want to spend the rest of your life doing at 18-20 is a bit strange to me, I think it is good to have some possible avenues out if one field doesn't work out. Also where do you draw the line when cutting off superfluous classes? Most degrees require some sort of constitutional history class or the like, that may not be much help in engineering but it is kind of nice for citizenship. I think the humanities would probably die out if they stopped making students take them as undergraduates as well. Just like I mourn the loss of shop classes in primary school, I would hate to see humanities disappear from universities.

 

Plus there is an out for students that don't want to waste the money on those classes. You can fulfill those requirements at community colleges. And I'm not sure about community colleges dying out, in my area we have a ton and they are all thriving, and offer a few outstanding programs that compete with traditional colleges at a fraction of the cost. 

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However, I don't think a law degree is a requirement to be admitted to the state bar. Not sure about that.

 

 

sadly, is only four states where you can gain admission to the bar w/o a degree, and even in those states you need have interned or "read" with a judge who then kinda vouches for you or somesuch. 

 

lousiana, if we recall, were the last state allow bar admission w/o a degree as long as the applicant passed the bar exam, and a rudimentary background check, but there were a few public embarrassing displays o' incompetence which resulted in a change.

 

each state has different requirements for professional responsibility and bar exam and whatnot.  is possible a few states even now only require the multi-state multiple choice portion for their bar exam, but we cannot say for certain. nevertheless, excepting having gone through some kinda special reading program with a judge in four states, you are gonna need a law degree to be admitted to the bar.

 

the multi-state and multiple choice portion o' the bar, which we believe is administered in every state, has always made us chuckle. see, for most o' the subjects covered by the multi-state, traditional common law is the appropriate rule of law choice, and the only thing common to all fifty states is none o' them actual rely on common law.  knowing the rule against perpetuities is swell and all, but chances are you are in a state where a statute has replaced.  nevertheless, kinda like the usefulness o' latin as a dead language as a basis for scientific jargon, the common law's usefulness is due to its inert nature.  

 

and 'cause nobody is actual interested, we will link anyway

 

http://abovethelaw.com/2013/04/which-state-has-the-most-difficult-bar-exam/

 

HA! Good Fun!

 

ps the ca bar is becoming easier this year.  were, for decades, a 3-day and 18 hour slog.  showed up on many world's toughest exam lists.   however, starting 2017, the ca bar will only be a two-day affair.

Edited by Gromnir
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"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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A recent study was released here recently, on this issue in fact, or rather tangent to it. It was a study on how people used the internet - and showed that self-acquired knowledge and 'autodidactism' was still very much a product of social class. Poor people would predominately use the internet for entertainment and to reaffirm pre-taught information/bias, whereas those of 'higher social standing' were much more likely to use the internet to seek new information.

But autodidactism, in some form, is already becoming the rule rather than the norm. To the point that many degrees these days, are more about learning how to aquire knowledge within a field, than actually imparting expert-knowledge onto students.

Fortune favors the bald.

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A recent study was released here recently, on this issue in fact, or rather tangent to it. It was a study on how people used the internet - and showed that self-acquired knowledge and 'autodidactism' was still very much a product of social class. Poor people would predominately use the internet for entertainment and to reaffirm pre-taught information/bias, whereas those of 'higher social standing' were much more likely to use the internet to seek new information.

 

But autodidactism, in some form, is already becoming the rule rather than the norm. To the point that many degrees these days, are more about learning how to aquire knowledge within a field, than actually imparting expert-knowledge onto students.

You know I really figured that the reverse would be true. The desire to better yourself is usually rooted in some dissatisfaction with where you are in life. The drive to increase your knowledge and skill levels (beyond doing that for it's own sake) usually leads to better jobs, higher pay and all that good stuff. You'd think someone of lower social class would be more motivated to make use of the educational opportunities the internet provides.

 

You know your second point is spot on though. In my undergrad work I took two classes called Strength of Materials I & II. We have a project at work we are trying to get funded this year that I'm helping with. The project involves a new concrete construction in the discharge flow for the power plant at Sequoyah. Water re-condensed from steam has a higher volume of dissolved solids and is much more alkaline. Hard water over time weakens the molecular bonds of Tricalcium Silicate, a component of concrete. To compensate the forms used will need to be more than 17% tetracalcium alumino ferrite means higher cost per kilogram, etc. None of this was covered in any class I've ever taken. I learned quite a bit about it reading from two sources. One was a study published for Our World in Concrete and Structures by a team of engineers from JNT University in India in 2004. The second was a book I found on http://www.academia.edu . But those two classes I mentioned did cover the chemical composition of concrete in some detail. So while it was by no means an expert on concrete I did know enough about it to be able to learn more.

Edited by Guard Dog

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A recent study was released here recently, on this issue in fact, or rather tangent to it. It was a study on how people used the internet - and showed that self-acquired knowledge and 'autodidactism' was still very much a product of social class. Poor people would predominately use the internet for entertainment and to reaffirm pre-taught information/bias, whereas those of 'higher social standing' were much more likely to use the internet to seek new information.

 

But autodidactism, in some form, is already becoming the rule rather than the norm. To the point that many degrees these days, are more about learning how to aquire knowledge within a field, than actually imparting expert-knowledge onto students.

You know I really figured that the reverse would be true. The desire to better yourself is usually rooted in some dissatisfaction with where you are in life. The drive to increase your knowledge and skill levels (beyond doing that for it's own sake) usually leads to better jobs, higher pay and all that good stuff. You'd think someone of lower social class would be more motivated to make use of the educational opportunities the internet provides.

 

The problem is that scraping together enough money to handle the necessities of basic survival is generally a full-time occupation for those of lower social class, leaving little time and energy for self-education.

"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

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A recent study was released here recently, on this issue in fact, or rather tangent to it. It was a study on how people used the internet - and showed that self-acquired knowledge and 'autodidactism' was still very much a product of social class. Poor people would predominately use the internet for entertainment and to reaffirm pre-taught information/bias, whereas those of 'higher social standing' were much more likely to use the internet to seek new information.

 

But autodidactism, in some form, is already becoming the rule rather than the norm. To the point that many degrees these days, are more about learning how to aquire knowledge within a field, than actually imparting expert-knowledge onto students.

You know I really figured that the reverse would be true. The desire to better yourself is usually rooted in some dissatisfaction with where you are in life. The drive to increase your knowledge and skill levels (beyond doing that for it's own sake) usually leads to better jobs, higher pay and all that good stuff. You'd think someone of lower social class would be more motivated to make use of the educational opportunities the internet provides.

 

The problem is that scraping together enough money to handle the necessities of basic survival is generally a full-time occupation for those of lower social class, leaving little time and energy for self-education.

 

But that is the beauty of the internet. It's all right there at your fingertips and mostly free. It does not demand hours of time. It rewards any time spent. Even 20-30 minutes a day over months adds up. In the US 99% of the population has easy access to public libraries and high speed internet. Absolutely everything you need to learn nearly anything you want to learn is right there and asks for nothing but the desire to do it.

Get off my lawn!

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The obstacle is not accessibility. Ironically it actually requires pretty extensive information gathering skills to acquire new skills on your own. How do you qualify information? Time investments in 'internet knowledge' may well be useless, if you cannot critically asses what you learn.

 

And found the study, was OECD not DK,

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/07/rich-and-poor-teenagers-spend-a-similar-amount-of-time-online-so-why-aren-t-we-closing-the-digital-divide?utm_content=buffer45b99&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

As the article says

“They may not have the knowledge or skills required to turn online opportunities into real opportunities,”

Fortune favors the bald.

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