Being an Autodidact

When I was 16 years old I liked to play chess – still do. I got pretty good and could beat most kids and adults at my high school.

Eventually I ran out of challenging opponents so I started playing against chess computers.

Chess computers in the early 80s were expensive but I went through about five or six of them before I came up with a brilliant idea.

Buy one of the fancy new personal computers on the market and write my own chess computer. Several years later I was a professional programmer. No degree. Little to no formal training. I taught myself.

Since then I have taught myself a number of skills like photography, electronics and woodworking.

A person who is self taught is called an autodidact. I have never had the patience to sit through hours of boring lectures. Give me a book, video or tape and I will devour the information and come back for more. I can build a conversational competence in most things in one or two months. I can usually master or at least appear to have masters many subjects in as little as six months.

The trouble with teaching yourself is that you don’t have a defined finish line. When you are in college, you know you are done when you walk across the stage and collect your degree. Not that you should stop learning but you do have a piece of paper that says you have learned underwater basket weaving to the standards of Bubba’s Underwater Basket Building Academy  – BUBBA.

Autodidacts on the other hand are never done. Maybe because the thing they are learning is interesting to them. Maybe because true autodidacts are wired differently.

My wife is a trained chef. She always loved to cook and completed culinary school. She seems to enjoy having somebody present information to her in a classroom setting. I enjoyed the leftovers.

My sons and I on the other hand actively search out the information we want and don’t wait until a class starts.

Time is precious, learn it fast, learn it now. Next.

What kind of learning do you prefer? Formal classroom, self taught or some hybrid of the two? Would love to hear from you.

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