Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. This quote is attributed to Einstein and I think we can all agree he was a Super Student (I mean what with the Nobel prize deal and all…).
While it’s a myth that Einstein was a poor student in Maths and Physics, the traditional education system does do a poor job when it comes to taking advantage of the full potential of Super Students. Many of them can’t draw motivation from sitting in a classroom listening to a 50 year old rambling about literature.
School isn’t everything
The traditional education system relies on a figure that is supposed to be indicative a student’s level of proficiency in any given field of study. Often times, these numbers mean more or less funding for the school, so they’re pretty important. For most teachers, exams, tests and grades are all that matters; you can forget about innovation, creativity or out-of-the-box thinking.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m fully aware that grades mean a lot for most of us – I had to achieve top grades in High School in order to be accepted to medical school. But I felt that the work I conducted during those three years was not up to my true potential. Memorizing information and solving math problems didn’t seem like much of a challenge on their own.
For Super Students, developing exciting projects, working on fresh ideas and collaborating with others towards a common goal are what get their gears running. And many of the skills employed on these projects are self-taught – does your school have Public Speaking, Programming, Creativity, Team-working, Marketing or Project Management classes?
These complaints about the system, coupled with the rise of the Internet and quality of online educational content, are opening doors to a Teach Yourself era. Nowadays, a lot of kids are teaching themselves how to compose music, publish videos online, create videogames, code apps and attract social media followings. Students are beginning to master larger skill sets than their teachers.
I strongly believe that in the future there will be no teachers. Computers can teach you the same contents all the while being more tolerant, patient, effective, adaptable and even fun. We still don’t have complete and independent teaching systems, but platforms like Khan Academy, Code Academy and others are getting pretty close.
Meanwhile, Super Students need to do what they can to achieve their goals and acquire the skills and knowledge that matter the most to them. Welcome to the Teach Yourself Age.
Teach Yourself – A viable alternative?
When faced with the need to learn something new, let’s say play the guitar, do you immediately think of signing up for a paid school or hiring a private teacher? Or do you go online and look for the first YouTube video that teaches basic chords and hand positioning?
Since you’re reading this, I’d put my money on the second alternative. Self-education is often preferred by Super Students because, well, it’s awesome and vastly superior to the traditional methods.
- It’s free or much cheaper. With this little miracle called the Internet, a lot of information out there is 100% free. You can learn how to do virtually anything without having to pay a dime, and even if you do pay for a course on Udemy or Coursera, the return on investment is much higher than it would be with a traditional course.
- You can set your own pace. There’s no one yelling at your hear you have to master calculus by the end of the semester or else you’ll fail. You set your own goals, you set your own rhythm, you’re the master of your (learning) destiny.
- It’s motivating. Taking a step back and noticing how much progress you’ve made since the very beginning is incredibly satisfying. Knowing that you did it all by yourself is also pretty impressive.
- There’s more than one teacher. Anyone can be your teacher, provided they know more than you do. You can diversify your sources, learn from several different people and then balance their teachings with your own set of knowledge.
- The ultimate final exam is real life. There is no pressure to study for this one. You will judge how good your skills are when the time comes to actually use them. There’s much more to it than drawing a circle on the right alternative.
There are a lot of advantages, yet some people prefer the traditional ways. That’s perfectly legitimate – doing things on your own is way less social and requires more discipline and planning. But if you can overcome those few hurdles, teaching yourself yields life-changing returns.