Autodidacticism, or simply self-education, is the act of teaching oneself about a subject, trade, or ability in which one has little or no prior education; it is the discovery of a personal interest and the development of said interest through means of research, experimentation, self-discipline, and the advice offered by others. Being an autodidact allows one the opportunity to potentially introduce new and unique thoughts and methods to an established subject or artform.
Autodidacts have been responsible for many original ideas and concepts for a variety of different works including music, video games, jewelry, cooking, computer programs, et cetera. Some very well known and accomplished individuals such as Leonardo da Vinci, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Arthur C. Clarke, Walter Cronkite, Thomas Edison, Charles Dickens, George Washington, and many more found success in the path of the autodidact. By teaching themselves, these individuals developed their talents through true interest and devotion and managed to introduce new methods, ideas, and concepts to the world.
An autodidact will usually have a unique way of thinking about or doing whatever it is they have taught themselves due to the unstructured and uninfluenced learning process of self-teaching. A formalized and structured lesson plan used by a teacher or an instructor can be rich with tips and information, but it may leave little or no room for original thought and experimentation; however, the process in which an autodidact teaches themselves can allow for the individual to stumble across original thoughts and ideas brought about by the hands on experience and the trial and error.
The beauty of autodidacticism is that it is an opportunity that everyone has. With enough passion, discipline, and determination, anyone can find what it is that interests them and begin their path towards mastery through research, advice, and hands-on experience. A successful autodidact can take pride in being able to say they found their passion and developed their own understanding for the tricks of the trade through experimentation, familiarization, and devotion.
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“Autodidacticism.” FNF: Famous Self-Taught People (Charles D. Hayes) SOURCE: Autodidactic Profiles – AUTODIDACTIC PRESS. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2015.
Chapman, Rosemary. “Autodidacticism and the desire for culture.” (2012).