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Teaching yourself, is it really possible?

by uperkurk
Tags: teaching
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TurtleMeister
#19
Nov17-12, 02:48 PM
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List of autodidacts
Evo
#20
Nov17-12, 02:58 PM
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Quote Quote by TurtleMeister View Post
This would verify what Zz said.
TurtleMeister
#21
Nov17-12, 04:43 PM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
This would verify what Zz said.
I wasn't trying to verify or contradict what Zz said. I just thought the list would be of interest to the readers and participants of the thread. I have a unique perspective on this subject because I myself do not have a formal education. However, I have experienced second hand what the higher education life is like. I was with my fiancee throughout all of her grad school years at an ivy league university. So I have respect for what you guys went through and accomplished.
Abstr7ct
#22
Nov23-12, 03:29 AM
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As an electrical engineering undergraduate student, I prefer to to teach myself and it works very well so far. In fact, teacher themselves expect you to learn a lot of things on your own especially when you go to higher courses.

I can't handle sitting on chair listening to a teacher explaining a subject for an hour or so, I just feel handcuffed and uncomfortable, whereas sitting in my own room reading and practicing theoretically and experimentally, is much more fun.
CFDFEAGURU
#23
Nov26-12, 10:56 AM
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I believe you can teach yourself as long as you stay within the boundaries of your own understanding. Don't memorize information simply to repeat it later to sound intelligent on a subject. (I know a moron that does this all the time and only makes people dislike him even more.) The knowledge is in knowing how to use that information.

Thanks
Matt
Galteeth
#24
Nov29-12, 01:43 AM
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Quote Quote by TurtleMeister View Post
I think ZapperZ hit the nail on the head. Short version: You can learn the physics, but you will never be "in the club".
Isn't this sort of a bad thing though? I mean, perhaps you have some real geniuses out their who for whatever reason don't fit into the culture or struggle with the more mundane bureaucratic aspects?
Jim Kata
#25
Nov29-12, 03:09 AM
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I think you can learn on your own, but there will be massive holes in your knowledge. I've learned far more about Mathematics on my own than I ever did in my Master's program, but I learned it in a spotchy way, in that I learned the gist of a lot of things. Now sitting down and working through Rudin or Jackson on your own would take a level of diligence that most people just don't have.
Stromthetroll
#26
Nov30-12, 09:09 PM
P: 4
You may learn but you cannot publish, at least easily, as issac asimov said there is no other type of education besides self-education, it is paraphrased of course
TurtleMeister
#27
Dec2-12, 08:28 PM
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Quote Quote by Galteeth View Post
Isn't this sort of a bad thing though? I mean, perhaps you have some real geniuses out their who for whatever reason don't fit into the culture or struggle with the more mundane bureaucratic aspects?
I'm not sure what you mean by "a bad thing". Bad for who or what? If you're referring to what Stromthetroll mentioned about not being able to publish, then I guess that would be a bad thing for the misfit genius. But then he didn't go through the proving grounds that the "guys in the club" had to go through. So in that respect, maybe it's only natural that it should be harder for him to get published.
Galteeth
#28
Dec4-12, 12:45 AM
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Quote Quote by TurtleMeister View Post
I'm not sure what you mean by "a bad thing". Bad for who or what? If you're referring to what Stromthetroll mentioned about not being able to publish, then I guess that would be a bad thing for the misfit genius. But then he didn't go through the proving grounds that the "guys in the club" had to go through. So in that respect, maybe it's only natural that it should be harder for him to get published.
Bad for science, if people who potentially could make contributions are excluded because of an inability to conform to the culture.
TurtleMeister
#29
Dec5-12, 07:17 PM
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Quote Quote by Galteeth View Post
Bad for science, if people who potentially could make contributions are excluded because of an inability to conform to the culture.
Good point. But if a person is unable to conform to the things that Zz mentioned, then how would he be able to communicate his contribution even if he were allowed into the "club"? It's up to the individual to conform if he wants to contribute by being in the "club", not the other way around. It would be difficult for the "club" to conform to every individual's special needs.

But I do see what you mean. And it would be a loss for science in a case like that. But I don't really see any way around it. The individual would just have to figure something out for themselves.
Johninch
#30
Dec9-12, 03:58 PM
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Quote Quote by uperkurk View Post
Are there any people in recent history who never went to university to learn physics and just taught themselves using the internet and books? Is it really possible to get a solid understanding of physics just from reading and practice?
I agree with the others and also from my personal experience I doubt that you could get a "solid understanding of physics" outside of university. That's much too ambitious.

What you can do is to pick one or two topics and go into depth on them, or you can do what I do which is to set up a project and study all the ramifications of that. Even then, to get an in depth understanding of most areas of physics you need to understand the math.

Basically you need to set specific goals, otherwise you will start rambling due to the freedom!
Abstr7ct
#31
Dec11-12, 05:05 AM
P: 17
Continuing my opinion...

Again, I study electrical engineering. The basic courses, such as basic circuit analysis and basic electronics, can be studied thoroughly on your own without any need to go to a single lecture. The reason for this, is that such courses have expansive and well-written resources, from books, online lectures and resources. You can get a solid foundation on the theory and on the practical side if you choose you to teach yourself on these subjects, and this comes from a personal experience.

However, when you go to more advanced stuff, like digital design and communications, you find yourself trapped in a lot of areas if you choose not to communicate with your instructor. In addition, you can't find enough resources that provide expansive and well-written explanations compared to basic courses. For example, I'm taking the first course in digital design and we use Verilog to implement digital circuits by simulation and on FPGA boards. You can't survive Verilog programming if you don't communicate with your instructor since the materials available on Verilog and FPGA programming are rare and confusing. Subsequently, you find yourself lost and trapped as you go further.
Evo
#32
Dec11-12, 06:30 PM
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One of the problems with being self-taught, you may learn facts, but you don't learn critical thinking.

In the book, Critical Thinking, Beyer elaborately explains what he sees as essential aspects of critical thinking. These are:

Dispositions: Critical thinkers are skeptical, open-minded, value fair-mindedness, respect evidence and reasoning, respect clarity and precision, look at different points of view, and will change positions when reason leads them to do so.

Criteria: To think critically, must apply criteria. Need to have conditions that must be met for something to be judged as believable. Although the argument can be made that each subject area has different criteria, some standards apply to all subjects. "... an assertion must... be based on relevant, accurate facts; based on credible sources; precise; unbiased; free from logical fallacies; logically consistent; and strongly reasoned" (p. 12).

Argument: Is a statement or proposition with supporting evidence. Critical thinking involves identifying, evaluating, and constructing arguments.

Reasoning: The ability to infer a conclusion from one or multiple premises. To do so requires examining logical relationships among statements or data.

Point of View: The way one views the world, which shapes one's construction of meaning. In a search for understanding, critical thinkers view phenomena from many different points of view.

Procedures for Applying Criteria: Other types of thinking use a general procedure. Critical thinking makes use of many procedures. These procedures include asking questions, making judgments, and identifying assumptions.
http://academic.udayton.edu/legaled/....htm#what%20is
edward
#33
Dec11-12, 09:23 PM
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Quote Quote by uperkurk View Post
Are there any people in recent history who never went to university to learn physics and just taught themselves using the internet and books? Is it really possible to get a solid understanding of physics just from reading and practice?

I guess it would be a bit hard to test certain experiements due to lack of equipment but nevertheless is it doable?

I live 10mins from a university and thought about sitting in on their physics lectures as the lecture halls have no form of security. I could get copies of the lecture hand outs ect. Only thing is I wouldn't be able to get my work marked but just wanted a professional opinion.
Since you menion the internet and this is for your own personal interest. Both Stanford and MIT have free online courses.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechcons...academic-level

http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/index.htm
Master J
#34
Dec13-12, 05:50 AM
P: 225
Apologies if I haven't followed the recent stream of replies, but I have noticed a few well-meaning responses that seem somewhat discouraging.

The only thing that matters is whether or not you have a real passion, a real fascination with the subject. If you work hard at it, you can learn so much. There is a whole ocean of textbooks available, not to mention the vast library of notes that many universities put online. It is all there!!

But being a physicist is something different. That means being part of the group who have academic qualifications, being part of that culture. And while this is necessary, I do think sometimes that it is hostile to outsiders. Who is to say such an outsider could not make a contribution? Not everyone has the privileged opportunity to attend university.
russ_watters
#35
Dec13-12, 06:20 AM
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I haven't followed the thread either, but just one little point:

The phrase "teaching yourself" really annoys me because it is an oxymoron. "Teaching" is when one person shows another person how to do something, so no it is not possible to "teach yourself".

"Self-learning" would be better because learning is something you do yourself, but that kinda makes it redundant.

Am I just being pedantic? No. My point is that if you want to learn via books or the internet, you are still learning from other people who created the content that you are trying to absorb. The question is: are you using that content effectively/as it was designed and can you lean successfully by using it in ways that may be different from how it was designed?
-Job-
#36
Dec17-12, 01:57 AM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
One of the problems with being self-taught, you may learn facts, but you don't learn critical thinking.
There's a distinction to be made between memorizing facts and learning.

I've found that tackling a subject independently is challenging precisely because of the additional effort required in extracting key points and making the necessary connections, without the benefit of an instructor who can present the material for effective consumption - it's difficult and exhausting and IMHO does require extra critical thinking.

Whether self-taught students are more inclined to pursue fact memorization rather than actual learning, is a different question.


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