Self Education Skills

by Race Bannon on June 12, 2009

To pursue a life of self education requires the fostering of certain skills? What are those skills? I’m sure everyone will have a different opinion, but here are what I consider the essential skills for self educators. Why identify these skills? Because they are the foundation to any learning, self directed or not.

  • Needs Analysis. If someone has a background in instructional design (the formal process for creating learning materials and curriculum), the term “needs analysis” is familiar. That’s basically what I’m referring to here – the ability to determine exactly what it is you need to learn. In other words, put some thought into exactly what you need (or want) to learn so you don’t undertake unnecessary learning.
  • Focus. Some would refer to this as the ability to concentrate. Vital to self education.
  • Motivation. I was going to refer to this as self discipline, but that evokes images of needing to force oneself to do something and I don’t consider that a healthy way to approach learning. True motivation is organic and comes from a passion about something.
  • Computer Savvy. In this age of digital information and communication, at least basic computer skills are vital. This includes how to optimally use search engines and other online knowledge repositories.
  • Information Mining. Also known as research. The ability to locate and identify needed information from a variety of sources. Online research is part of this, but you should use interviewing, libraries and any other method you can think of to find the information you need.
  • Communication. Why is the ability to communicate well both in written/visual form and through speech important? Because knowledge isn’t of much use unless it’s used in the real world and this often requires the ability to communicate effectively using the newly acquired knowledge.
  • Distilling Big Ideas. Many who study brain science and learning believe one of the keys to learning is to hang the more granular ideas on the overarching big ideas. In traditional curriculum terminology this is the “overview” concept. So as you learn something, try to determine what the big concepts and ideas are and it will make the details related to them stick and prove more useful.
  • Identifying Connections. The ability to find connections between all of the learning we do is important. Knowledge is inherently holistic, interrelated. If we can find those connections, the knowledge is more useful and understandable because it’s placed within a useful context.
  • Developing a Library. I don’t mean this literally in just the paper book sense, but rather developing a personal repository of information. Most of my “library” consists of three primary resources: (1) a digital library of ebooks and other electronic documents categorized by subject area; (2) links to useful sites; and (3) learning documents in which I take notes about what I learn.

If anyone can think of other necessary self education skills that I’ve missed, send me a message and I’ll consider adding them to this post.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Munene David Mugo December 5, 2011 at 6:26 am

Thanks for this encouraging article. I have been learning Accountacy on my own. I hhave found this kind of learning very rewarding. I would like to get some assistance on how to study Business Mathematica on my because I find it quite challenging.

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