One great thing about independent learning? Pretty much anyone willing to put in the time can do it. However, getting started can sometimes seem like a daunting task.
There is certainly no one way to do independent learning. The best thing about it is its flexibility and inherent ability to be personalized to different learners with different goals. These guidelines, however, have helped me organize my learning in an effective way. So, if you’re eager to start channeling your enthusiasm for a topic into a serious quest of independent learning, start here:
Choose Your First Subject Wisely
When setting out to study something new on your own, choosing the right subject is key – particularly for those who are new to independent learning. The three things to keep in mind are:
- Make sure it will keep your interest
- Choose the correct level to start from
- Prioritize any subjects that you will be able to see a practical gain from
For the most part the reasoning behind these is probably obvious. Studying without the presence of someone keeping you on track can be a hard habit to develop, so you want to make sure your interest will not wane once your get to the difficult topics. You also want to start studying at a level that you are capable of conquering. Finally, any topic that you choose should have some sort of application in your real life. By that I don’t mean drop any topic that you do not see pursuing a career in. Simply choose something that will benefit you. For example, do not choose to study a language that once you learn you will never have much opportunity to use.
Start Studying “Pop” Resources
With any serious self-study effort, you will spend a good amount of time grinding your way through textbooks. While you will inevitably get to this point, it isn’t necessary to start with the most thorough and difficult of resources.
Once you have chosen a topic, start to familiarize yourself with the basics by seeking out any “popular” resources you can find. This is the time to read all of those Richard Dawkins books that have been on your To-Read shelf, kick back with a cold beer and marathon some documentaries, or watch foreign films with the subtitles on. Your goal here is to help your interest grow further, while getting a basic foundation that you can build upon later.
This is also a good way to make sure you chose your subject wisely and that this is something you want to dedicate a significant amount of time on in your future. If your subject suddenly seems much less capable of holding your interest, consider changing your target subject.
Pick Goals and Make a Schedule
For any long term endeavor, you need to set a goal. Think of why you’re studying the subject you are and how far you want to go with it. If this subject is something you think you want become an expert in, set smaller “step” goals so you can see yourself achieving at each step in the process.
Once you know where you hope to go with your studying, start planning out a schedule. Look at your current responsibilities and figure out how much time you can really afford to dedicate to your studies. Make sure you don’t over commit but also make sure whatever schedule you come up with has you working at regular intervals to best retain everything you are working so hard to learn.
Choose the Best Resources for You
This is where we start moving into the heavier work. The kind of resources you choose should be determined by the subject you are studying and your own learning preferences. Do you research first and choose what is best for you. Stick with what you’ve chosen unless you encounter a serious problem. I have often made the mistake of jumping from resource to resource; re-doing the basics of a subject over and over without making any real progress simply because I did not take the time to investigate the materials I had chosen.
Finally, studying is tough, don’t think you have to do it all on your own! Numerous forums can be found for people studying a variety of subjects. It is always helpful to have people available to answer questions or to simply offer support.
Powered by Max Banner Ads