Autodidacticism

Autodidacticism

Overview
Autodidacticism is self-education or self-directed learning. In a sense, autodidacticism is "learning on your own" or "by yourself", and an autodidact is a person who teaches him or herself something. The term has its roots in the Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 words αὐτός (autós, or "self") and διδακτικός (didaktikos, meaning "education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

/teaching"). The related term Didacticism
Didacticism
Didacticism is an artistic philosophy that emphasizes instructional and informative qualities in literature and other types of art. The term has its origin in the Ancient Greek word διδακτικός , "related to education/teaching." Originally, signifying learning in a fascinating and intriguing...

defines an artistic philosophy of education
Philosophy of education
Philosophy of education can refer to either the academic field of applied philosophy or to one of any educational philosophies that promote a specific type or vision of education, and/or which examine the definition, goals and meaning of education....

. Self-teaching and self-directed learning are contemplative, absorptive processes.
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Quotations

Institutions are not pretty. Show me a pretty government. Healing is wonderful, but the American Medical Association? Learning is wonderful, but universities? The same is true for religion... religion is institutionalized spirituality.

Huston Smith|Huston Smith; quoted in

Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts. Some of you like Pep rallies and plastic robots who tell you what to read. Forget I mentioned it. This song has no message. Rise for the flag salute.

Frank Zappa, liner notes for song "Hungry Freaks Daddy" on the album Freak Out!|Freak Out!

When it came to formal classes, I was a slacker. But I’ve always been a diligent autodidact and can teach myself virtually any subject — if I have a serious interest in it.

Dean Koontz,

"Self-taught, are you?" Julian Castle asked Newt."Isn't everybody?" Newt inquired."Very good answer." Castle was respectful.

Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle (1963)
Encyclopedia
Autodidacticism is self-education or self-directed learning. In a sense, autodidacticism is "learning on your own" or "by yourself", and an autodidact is a person who teaches him or herself something. The term has its roots in the Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 words αὐτός (autós, or "self") and διδακτικός (didaktikos, meaning "education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

/teaching"). The related term Didacticism
Didacticism
Didacticism is an artistic philosophy that emphasizes instructional and informative qualities in literature and other types of art. The term has its origin in the Ancient Greek word διδακτικός , "related to education/teaching." Originally, signifying learning in a fascinating and intriguing...

defines an artistic philosophy of education
Philosophy of education
Philosophy of education can refer to either the academic field of applied philosophy or to one of any educational philosophies that promote a specific type or vision of education, and/or which examine the definition, goals and meaning of education....

. Self-teaching and self-directed learning are contemplative, absorptive processes. Some autodidacts spend a great deal of time reviewing the resources of libraries
Library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

 and educational website
Website
A website, also written as Web site, web site, or simply site, is a collection of related web pages containing images, videos or other digital assets. A website is hosted on at least one web server, accessible via a network such as the Internet or a private local area network through an Internet...

s. A person may become an autodidact at nearly any point in his or her life. While some may have been educated in a conventional manner in a particular field, they may choose to educate themselves in other, often unrelated areas.

Autodidactism is only one facet of learning, and is usually complemented by learning in formal and informal spaces: from classrooms to other social settings. Many autodidacts seek instruction and guidance from experts, friends, teachers, parents, siblings, and community. Inquiry into autodidacticism has implications for learning theory
Learning theory (education)
In psychology and education, learning is commonly defined as a process that brings together cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences and experiences for acquiring, enhancing, or making changes in one's knowledge, skills, values, and world views . Learning as a process focuses on what...

, educational research
Educational research
Educational research refers to a variety of methods, in which individuals evaluate different aspects of education including but not limited to: “student learning, teaching methods, teacher training, and classroom dynamics”....

, educational philosophy, and educational psychology
Educational psychology
Educational psychology is the study of how humans learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, the psychology of teaching, and the social psychology of schools as organizations. Educational psychology is concerned with how students learn and develop, often focusing...

.

Autodidactism in literature and fiction


The earliest novels to deal with the concept of autodidacticism were the Arabic novels
Arabic literature
Arabic literature is the writing produced, both prose and poetry, by writers in the Arabic language. The Arabic word used for literature is adab which is derived from a meaning of etiquette, and implies politeness, culture and enrichment....

, Philosophus Autodidactus
Hayy ibn Yaqdhan
Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān is an Arabic philosophical novel and allegorical tale written by Ibn Tufail in the early 12th century.- Translations :* from Wikisource* English translations of Hayy bin Yaqzan...

, written by Ibn Tufail
Ibn Tufail
Ibn Tufail was an Andalusian Muslim polymath: an Arabic writer, novelist, Islamic philosopher, Islamic theologian, physician, vizier,...

 in 12th-century Islamic Spain
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

, and Theologus Autodidactus, written by Ibn al-Nafis in 13th-century Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. Both deal with autodidactic feral child
Feral child
A feral child is a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has no experience of human care, loving or social behavior, and, crucially, of human language...

ren living in isolation from society on a desert island
Desert island
A desert island or uninhabited island is an island that has yet to be populated by humans. Uninhabited islands are often used in movies or stories about shipwrecked people, and are also used as stereotypes for the idea of "paradise". Some uninhabited islands are protected as nature reserves and...

 and discovering the truth as they grow up without having been in contact with other human beings.

The working-class protagonist of Jack London's Martin Eden
Martin Eden
Martin Eden is a novel by American author Jack London, about a proletarian young autodidact struggling to become a writer. It was first serialized in the Pacific Monthly magazine from September 1908 to September 1909, and subsequently published in book form by Macmillan in September 1909.This book...

(1909) embarks on a path of self-learning in order to gain the affections of Ruth, a member of cultured society. By the end of the novel, Eden has surpassed the intellect of the bourgeois class, leading him to a state of indifference and, ultimately, suicide.

Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre was a French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the leading figures in 20th century French philosophy, particularly Marxism, and was one of the key figures in literary...

's Nausea
Nausea (book)
Nausea is an epistolary novel by the existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, which was published in 1938 and written while he was teaching at the lycée of Le Havre...

(1938) depicts an autodidact who is a self-deluding dilettante.

In The Ignorant Schoolmaster (1987), Jacques Rancière
Jacques Rancière
Jacques Rancière is a French philosopher, Professor of Philosophy at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris Jacques Rancière (born Algiers, 1940) is a French philosopher, Professor of Philosophy at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee...

 describes the emancipatory education of Joseph Jacotot
Joseph Jacotot
Joseph Jacotot was a French teacher and educational philosopher, creator of the method of "intellectual emancipation." He was born at Dijon on the 4th of March 1770...

, a post-Revolutionary philosopher of education who discovered that he could teach things he did not know. The book is both a history and a contemporary intervention in the philosophy and politics of education, through the concept of autodidacticism; Rancière chronicles Jacotot's "adventures", but he articulates Jacotot's theory of "emancipation" and "stultification" in the present tense.

The 1997 drama film Good Will Hunting
Good Will Hunting
Good Will Hunting is a 1997 drama film directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver, and Stellan Skarsgård...

follows the story of autodidact Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon
Matt Damon
Matthew Paige "Matt" Damon is an American actor, screenwriter, and philanthropist whose career was launched following the success of the film Good Will Hunting , from a screenplay he co-wrote with friend Ben Affleck...

. Hunting demonstrates his breadth and depth of knowledge throughout the film, but especially to his therapist and in a heated discussion in a Harvard bar.

On the television show Criminal Minds
Criminal Minds
Criminal Minds is an American police procedural drama that premiered September 22, 2005, on CBS. The series follows a team of profilers from the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit based in Quantico, Virginia. The BAU is part of the FBI National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime...

(2005–present), Supervisory Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid
Spencer Reid
Dr. Spencer Reid is a fictional character from the CBS crime drama Criminal Minds, portrayed by Matthew Gray Gubler.He is a genius and autodidact who graduated from a Las Vegas public high school at age 12. His fellow team members almost always introduce him as Dr. Reid. Hotch revealed in the first...

 is an autodidact with an eidetic memory
Eidetic memory
Eidetic , commonly referred to as photographic memory, is a medical term, popularly defined as the ability to recall images, sounds, or objects in memory with extreme precision and in abundant volume. The word eidetic, referring to extraordinarily detailed and vivid recall not limited to, but...

, meaning that he can remember and easily recall almost everything he sees (this, however, only applies to visual information). He holds doctoral degrees in mathematics, chemistry, and engineering. He also holds bachelor degrees in sociology and psychology, and is working on completing another in philosophy. He is known on the show for being a genius; he has an IQ of 187 and is certainly the smartest member of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit stationed at Quantico, Virginia. Most of his autodidacticism comes from reading books, which he prefers over traditional forms of education, including schooling. He reads at a rate of 20,000 words per minute.

One of the main characters in The Elegance of the Hedgehog
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a novel by the French novelist and professor of philosophy Muriel Barbery. The book follows events in the life of a concierge, Renée Michel, whose deliberately concealed intelligence is uncovered by an unstable but intellectually precocious girl named Paloma Josse...

(2006), by Muriel Barbery
Muriel Barbery
Muriel Barbery is a French novelist and professor of philosophy.-Biography:Barbery studied at the Lycée Lakanal, entered the École Normale Supérieure de Fontenay-Saint-Cloud in 1990 and obtained her agrégation in philosophy in 1993...

, is an autodidact. The story is told from the view point of Renee, a middle-aged autodidact concierge in a Paris upscale apartment house and Paloma, a 12-year-old daughter of one of the tenants who is unhappy with her life. These two people find they have much in common when they both befriend a new tenant, Mr. Ozu, and their lives change forever.

In the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

, Ekalavya is depicted as a tribal boy who was denied education in the science of arms from royal teachers from the house of Kuru. Ekalavya went to the forest, where he taught himself archery in front of an image of the Kuru teacher, Drona, that he had built for himself. Later, when the royal family found that Ekalavya had practiced with the image of Drona as his teacher, Drona asked for Ekalavya's thumb as part of his tuition. Ekalavya complied with Drona's request, thus ending his martial career.

Autodidactism in architecture


Many successful and influential architect
Architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

s such as Mies Van Der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect, interior designer, writer and educator, who designed more than 1,000 structures and completed 500 works. Wright believed in designing structures which were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture...

, Violet-Le-Duc and Tadao Ando
Tadao Ando
is a Japanese architect whose approach to architecture was once categorized by Francesco Dal Co as critical regionalism. Ando has led a storied life, working as a truck driver and boxer prior to settling on the profession of architecture, despite never having taken formal training in the field...

 were self-taught.

There are very few countries allowing autodidactism in architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 today. The practice of architecture, or the use of the title: "architect", are now protected in most countries.

Self-taught architects have generally studied and qualified in other fields such as engineering
Engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

 or Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts comprise a whole host of activities and hobbies that are related to making things with one's hands and skill. These can be sub-divided into handicrafts or "traditional crafts" and "the rest"...

. Jean Prouvé
Jean Prouvé
-Images:**- External links :***...

 was first a structural engineer. Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier
Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier , was a Swiss-born French architect, designer, urbanist, writer and painter, famous for being one of the pioneers of what now is called modern architecture. He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930...

 had an academic qualification in decorative Arts. Tadao Ando
Tadao Ando
is a Japanese architect whose approach to architecture was once categorized by Francesco Dal Co as critical regionalism. Ando has led a storied life, working as a truck driver and boxer prior to settling on the profession of architecture, despite never having taken formal training in the field...

 started his career as a draftsman and Eileen Gray
Eileen Gray
Kathleen Eileen Moray Gray was an Irish furniture designer and architect and a pioneer of the Modern Movement in architecture.- Biography :...

 studied Fine Arts.

When a state starts to implement restrictions on the profession, there are issues related to the rights of established self-taught architects. In most countries the legislations include a grandfather clause
Grandfather clause
Grandfather clause is a legal term used to describe a situation in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations, while a new rule will apply to all future situations. It is often used as a verb: to grandfather means to grant such an exemption...

, authorising established self-taught architects to continue practicing. In the UK, the "Architects (Registration) Act 1931", allowed self-trained architects with 2 years of experience to register. In France, the "Loi n° 77-2 du 3 janvier 1977 sur l'architecture" allowed self-trained architects with 5 years of experience to register. In Belgium, the "Loi du 20 fevrier 1939" allowed experienced self-trained architects in practice to register. In Italy, the "legge 24 june 1923 No. 1395" allowed self-trained architects with 10 years of experience to register.

However, other states made the choice to omit such clause and many established and competent practitioners were stripped from their professional rights. In the Republic of Ireland, a group named "Architects' Alliance of Ireland
Architects' Alliance of Ireland
The Architects' Alliance of Ireland is an Irish pressure group founded in 2009. Its purpose is to lobby for a change in recent legislation in Ireland....

" is defending the interests of long-established self-trained architects who were recently deprived from their rights to practice as per Part 3 of the Building Control Act 2007.

Latest theoretical researches such as Architecture of Change, sustainability and humanity in the built environment" or older ones like "Vers une Architecture
Toward an Architecture
Vers une architecture, translated into English as Toward an Architecture and commonly known as Towards a New Architecture is a collection of essays written by Le Corbusier , advocating for and exploring the concept of modern architecture...

" from Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier
Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier , was a Swiss-born French architect, designer, urbanist, writer and painter, famous for being one of the pioneers of what now is called modern architecture. He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930...

 describe the practice of architecture as an environment changing with new technologies, sciences and legislations. All architects must be autodidacts for keeping up to date with new standards, new regulations, or new methods
Methodology
Methodology is generally a guideline for solving a problem, with specificcomponents such as phases, tasks, methods, techniques and tools . It can be defined also as follows:...

.

Self-taught architects like Eileen Gray
Eileen Gray
Kathleen Eileen Moray Gray was an Irish furniture designer and architect and a pioneer of the Modern Movement in architecture.- Biography :...

, Luis Barragán
Luis Barragán
Luis Barragán Morfin was a Mexican architect. He was self-trained.-Early life:Educated as an engineer, he graduated from the Escuela Libre de Ingenieros in Guadalajara in 1923 and was self-trained as an architect.After graduation, he travelled through Spain, France , and...

 and many others, created a system where working is also learning, where self-education is associated to creativity and productivity within a working environment.

See also

  • List of notable autodidacts
  • Unschooling
    Unschooling
    Unschooling is a range of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, including play, game play, household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction, rather than through a more traditional school curriculum....

  • John Taylor Gatto
    John Taylor Gatto
    John Taylor Gatto is a retired American school teacher with nearly 30 years experience in the classroom, and author of several books on education...

  • Jacques Rancière
    Jacques Rancière
    Jacques Rancière is a French philosopher, Professor of Philosophy at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris Jacques Rancière (born Algiers, 1940) is a French philosopher, Professor of Philosophy at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee...

  • Christopher Langan
  • Critical pedagogy
    Critical pedagogy
    Critical pedagogy is a philosophy of education described by Henry Giroux as an "educational movement, guided by passion and principle, to help students develop consciousness of freedom, recognize authoritarian tendencies, and connect knowledge to power and the ability to take constructive...

  • E-learning
    E-learning
    E-learning comprises all forms of electronically supported learning and teaching. The information and communication systems, whether networked learning or not, serve as specific media to implement the learning process...

  • Philosophus Autodidactus
    Hayy ibn Yaqdhan
    Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān is an Arabic philosophical novel and allegorical tale written by Ibn Tufail in the early 12th century.- Translations :* from Wikisource* English translations of Hayy bin Yaqzan...

  • Theologus Autodidactus
  • Do it yourself
    Do it yourself
    Do it yourself is a term used to describe building, modifying, or repairing of something without the aid of experts or professionals...

  • Sudbury School
    Sudbury school
    A Sudbury school is a school that practices a form of democratic education in which students individually decide what to do with their time, and learn as a by-product of ordinary experience rather than adopting a descriptive educational syllabus or standardized instruction by classes following a...


Further reading

. The Call to Brilliance: A True Story to Inspire Parents and Educators. ISBN 0-9778369-0-8. and . SelfDesign: Nurturing Genius Through Natural Learning. ISBN 1-59181-044-2. Self-University: The Price of Tuition Is the Desire to Learn. Your Degree Is a Better Life. ISBN 0-9621979-0-4. The Rapture of Maturity: A Legacy of Lifelong Learning. ISBN 0-9621979-4-7.. The Day I Became an Autodidact. ISBN 0-385-29636-3.. The Teenage Liberation Handbook
The Teenage Liberation Handbook
The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education, originally published in 1991 by Grace Llewellyn, is a book about unschooling. Inspired by John Holt's educational views among others, the book encourages teenagers to leave full-time school and let their...

: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education
. ISBN 0-9629591-7-0.. The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation. Stanford Univ. Press, 1991. ISBN 0-8047-1969-1.. The Passion to Learn: An Inquiry into Autodidactism. ISBN 0-415-30418-0.

External links