Sunday, April 22, 2007

The site was another site StumbleUpon overturned for me.

I find this idea very intriguing - I've always been annoyed over the two extreme opinions that can be found on learning in this country. One is the over-veneration some have for official routes of learning. On the other hand, there is the thinking that leads to some denigrating people who have "book smarts" (vs. "street smarts", usually, with the assumption always being, of course, that the person holding forth with this argument is street smart. Usually, the real motivation for this argument seems to be jealousy.). My problem with the over-veneration of institutional learning is that many with degrees don't learn that much during school to start with, and almost consciously make a decision to stop any and all learning immediately after. This is a broad generalization of course, but there is a strong anti-intellectual streak in this country, and learning is considered even more especially "geeky" if conducted outside the context of a university. One will often hear the phrase "getting a life" when anyone is trying to learn or gain a skill outside the socially-accepted norm of university, unless it directly relates to a profit motive. The other, very real, danger is that someone with too much institutional learning can be a total ass.

The trick, then, seems to be to avoid being an anti-intellectual knuckle-dragger AND to avoid being an elitist jerk about the degrees or knowledge or skills one has gained.

Don't get me wrong - I have a degree. I just don't view it as my only education - or the end of it. That's partly why I read so damn much. But as the article currently on the home page of the site suggests, there are many other routes to learning. Some of them are much more immersive and experiential. Some of these suggestions remind me a bit of some of RAW's suggestions, and which partly drove me to take my family out and learn snowboarding last year. Learning how to do something can be very fun AND educational, and it's not always about having your nose in a book, or sitting in front of a computer. This year, I hope to learn how to refine my current (nearly nonexistent) golf game.

The folks writing some pieces over at selfmadescholar seem to have found a way down this middle path. They've done a better job at expressing some things that I absolutely agree with AND they've done an excellent job of indexing absolutely FREE courses and categorizing them. Very nicely done. Of course, one of the providers of such courses are to be expected, such as MIT OpenCourseware.

Some of this site also reminds me why I like some of what I listened to/watched from The Teaching Company. While their materials are not free, what I've been exposed to was of good quality, and you may find of some their stuff at the library.

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