Updated: Nov 26, 2021
In other words, are you someone who prefers to learn on their own, is your learning self-directed, in your own time and at your own pace? The word comes from the Greek word ‘autodidaktikos’ which means self-taught.
The pandemic has certainly raised questions about our learning preferences –whether it is learning in a group environment such as school, online lecturing, online group collaboration and many other combinations in between!
And never has the opportunity to learn been greater – the government is offering many free courses, as well Google, Amazon Web Services and the MOOCS (massive open online courses) are great places to learn something different! And there are videos, books, libraries, podcasts and many more resources at our fingertips.
Do you recognise these famous autodidacts!
But how do you know if you are a natural self-learner? According to the Autodidact Society (yes – there is one!), autodidacts are those who are busy, goal orientated individuals who never run out of things to do. They have an effervescent curiosity and they can easily talk about a subject, they have taught themselves, for many hours! Autodidacts are good at building self-knowledge through different learning
opportunities and often use travel, people and world experience to do this. They also look for help when they need it.
Being an autodidact is more than being able to work alone, it is about having a plan to learn, to be self-sufficient – not necessarily relying on others for support. An autodidact may fly in the face of a standard education. They may not have any formal qualifications, yet this may be a bonus for employers who can see a passionate and inspiring human who is self-motivated and willing to take the time to lead themselves to mastery in a favourite subject!
In my own experience, it's not quite so clear-cut. I enjoyed a Level 3 Interior Design course online because I had always wanted to learn a bit more about the subject, although I did miss the interaction with tutors and other students. So, now I am more skilled now when decorating, thinking about colours, textures, lighting and so on! But when I took my GCSE Maths a few years ago, attending the course at college was essential as I had so many immediate questions and would not have been motivated enough to complete the course on my own. So perhaps it’s about a combination of confidence, motivation and interest that makes self-learning possible?
Is it a way of reducing tuition fees?
With more students becoming disgruntled about the lack of face-to-face lectures and tutorials, is this a way of reducing costs by opting for an online degree, for example?
I spoke to one client this week who said he could have learnt most of his degree online! However, he felt you would need a lot of self-discipline for total self-study and he suggested it might be better to fit this in with a part time job so that the schedule for study is fixed. He felt that university can allow students to drift and lose motivation particularly when there are no ‘in real life’ learning interactions. He felt that an apprenticeship would have been the best option for him which would have included many methods of learning. Another client has been taking a course in gaming and animation which really interests him and this will enhance his Media degree – all self-taught, whilst working part time in retail.
But of course, university is not just about the studying as we all know! And there are many more benefits of this opportunity if individuals make the most of it. But back to being an autodidact.
I have seen so many job specifications that ask for a ‘desire to learn’. I’ve seen jobs that require a knowledge or desire to learn particular coding applications, specific CAD software or project management that applicants may not have. I have seen employers who want to know about 'personal projects' outside of the workplace. They want to get to know the authentic you and how willing you are to stretch yourself in a self learning situation.
And we all know that career development entails lots of continued learning in a jobs market where new types of roles are appearing almost daily! So, why not find out whether you could use this approach to learn something new and potentially benefit your career planning too! You don't have to wait for an employer to offer you a course, you can do it for yourself!
Here are some links if you would like to know more: