Increasing Importance of Self-Education

Taking some responsibility for your own education, and for keeping your knowledge current and relevant, is always a good idea. In nearly every country we go through some kind of formal early, intermediate and higher education sequence, after which we are supposed to understand where we are headed and that somehow our lives will fall into place.  Unhappily, this is an assumption that has been far from true in recent years.

The nature of work continues to change at an accelerated pace. More and more, work changes due to the intervention of changing technologies. Computers, robotics, and artificial intelligence are all expanding at formidable speed. The machines we operate, and are asked to manage in the workplace, change with much greater frequency that they used to. Some technologies come and go more rapidly than we can learn them, and will usually be replaced by technologies that need not be handled even by the same number of humans. Thus, jobs disappear and those that remain are more complicated and may require workers with a higher educational level, the training for which may not even be available in the formal education sector.

Self-education or self-teaching, whatever we call it, has always been important, but in the current society, given its trends, the ability to keep one’s knowledge current and relevant to rapid changes, has become not just important, but critical. If you cannot use self-education as a basis for holding a current job, perhaps you can self-teach your way into a new job–perhaps you can even invent a new job.

In addition to using self-education as a practical adjunct to your economic welfare, you can also use it to stay connected to societal change generally. Keeping general skills is more important than ever. Reading, writing and basic math skills all deteriorate with time and must be constantly upgraded. Some thoughts follow:

1. Reading: Keep a reading list — read about what you find interesting. Some fiction as well as non-fiction is always important. Reflect on what you read. Write about what you read–see below.

2. Writing: Writing and using words effectively is as important as reading. Keeping a reflective journal is one approach. Writing a short, reflective essay daily (250-1500 words) is another. You will always find you have more to say than you think. Keep what you write in a desk drawer in reverse order of when it was written. Now and then take the sheets of paper you’ve written on from the drawer and read for a while in reverse chronological order. You’ll always find some of what you wrote interesting and cause for further reflection.

3. Keeping your basic math skills are also more important than we realize. Graphics and graphical presentation as histograms, pie charts and so forth are also increasing. We see many presentations in graphical form on internet websites. You should read about what interests you on the web and keep notes — be sure you understand the graphical presentations. Keep your map reading skills relevant. Review your knowledge of geography from time to time. Plan trips to all states and to many foreign countries of interest, even if you don’t have plans to go there.

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