RECENTLY I was thinking about this when I was trying to polish up my skills in another area.
Often we go through the year and ask ourselves if we have learnt anything important and useful (apart from those things taught in the classroom)?
For those who hold down a job, there is no excuse that we should not learn skills and knowledge – things that we set our minds to master.
I was reminding myself also that in most tertiary institutions, these are the kinds of qualifications you get from studying there:
Certificate – 1 semester (14 weeks) study
Diploma – 2 semester (28 weeks) study
Degree – 6 semester (84 weeks) study
I was thinking, take someone who can read and write, and wants to learn a subject that s/he did not learn in school – economics, biology, electronics, music theory, cooking cakes, writing computer programmes, etc.
If s/he can find a good book (or a good web or blog site that is updated regularly), and spend time consistently and is committed, s/he can learn about the same as those who sit in the classroom all day.
Yes, the challenge would be when s/he comes across difficult concepts – concepts that s/he has never learned and may not be able to understand without help from others.
At such times, s/he should seek help from those who are trained in those subjects.
And yes, for some subjects, it is nice to have a private tutor to coach one a bit – it helps.
When the basics are grasped, then the “learner” can go on learning.
These I think are applicable in fields of language learning, playing a musical instrument, building a box, cooking a cake, and a lot of others.
As I was writing the previous line, I was also reminded that sometimes people sit for semesters in the classroom without really grasping concepts, while those who study on their own “can cover a lot of ground” without help from others.
The latter group only need a guide from time to time. They are the “self learners” – those who can learn a lot themselves. And they are an admirable lot too. They are the mature learners and if we can adopt some of their qualities, we can learn a lot each day, each week, each month, each year and as long as we live.