Can we learn without learning?


Some learn without learning, some don't in spite of it...

A university degree or a post-title (or grades, for that matter) is not the ultimate proof of what one has learnt, or what one is capable of. At least, not for Autodidacts.

Autodidacts (meaning self -teaching in Greek) are people who learn by themselves or have self-educated themselves without the guidance of teachers, professors or mentors. A true autodidact will really have impressive knowledge in certain subject areas without acquiring it formally through traditional teacher-classroom learning.

University or college degrees, certificates, classroom learning and passing grades have become relevant only in modern times. Consider this:

  • The greatest philosophers of all times didn't have a degree in Philosophy. they didn't learn it anywhere in university or college.
  • The five major religions of the world were started by people having no degree or education at all. They observed the world through different eyes, downloaded the basics of life and transmitted it to other people much like a radio transmits music. Imagine asking Jesus, 'Hey, why the heck do you think you know so much about the world?' (Although I am not a religious person, I do believe there's a great deal of wisdom in what Buddha or Jesus said than what our modern-day university tripple grads may tell us.)
  • Some of the greatest kings and statesmen likewise didn't study political science as a university subject. They had hands-on-learning.
  • Most of world's oldest literature, poetry, prose and ancient epics in many languages and cultures (that still stand the test of time and still regarded as pure gems) were also written by people with no formal degrees. The same could be said about many music composers, artists, painters, sculptors, even scientists! Neither Da Vinci had received any formal training nor Mozart.

For Da Vinci it is said: 'Largely self-educated, he filled dozens of secret notebooks with inventions, observations and theories about pursuits from aeronautics to anatomy. But the rest of the world was just beginning to share knowledge in books made with moveable type, and the concepts expressed in his notebooks were often difficult to interpret.'

But those were old times. Do we have autodidacts in current times? Can we really trust their learning even if they don't have relevant reliable degrees?

Yes. Absolutely. In fact, we should be welcoming them because some of the most remarkable contributions in field of Literature, History, music, acting, art, science, invention, education and architecture have been made by autodidacts!

If that didn't reel you, how about this: James Cameron, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Paul Keating, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Johnny Depp are all modern day autodidacts.

Here is a link that tells us in detail about 100 impressive people in modern times who learnt way more than their school/ college or university could give them.

One might think that autodidacticism is rare and only happens to a lucky few. The answer is: no. Not at all. Autodidacticism is neither rare, nor impossible, nor genetic. It could be acquired by simply anyone who has the desire to learn and puts his desire into practice. Simple!

That said, make sure you aren't aiming for Law or medical science.

You know what? The greatest university in the world is life, and time is the teacher. And they both don't hand out degrees and certificates. At least not on paper. If we trust paper degrees to believe in a capable person's capability, we're going to be disappointed.

After all, some learn without learning, some don't in spite of it...

Thank you for reading.