Mar 16, 2011

Self Taught vs Schooled

Hello world!
So I saw this interesting article on African Digital Art this morning. It was basically about self-teaching versus going to school and doing a course, and the problems with this in Africa (though I thought it was referring more to Kenya than any other country).

According to a search, "self-taught" is "having knowledge or skills acquired by one's own efforts without formal instruction" so by these terms it means that basically there was no school or course involved in you acquiring a skill.
Now, the real question is what would be better. ADA found that "better" is in relation to what's available. Which is a very good point. If you're somewhere where there's little to no education on what you're looking into, then your definitely better off self-teaching. The interwebs has tens of resources for top quality stuff (I hope some day i2c will be as well) and places to learn all you may want to.

Sometimes, though, I find myself blaming the lack of proper formal education here on the fact that the elder generation that has the ability to create such institutions are quite old fashioned, and since they're basing their information off what we have locally, rather than internationally, there's not much room to grow. I've seen people starting out in other countries in other states who have so much better work than what a graduate can produce here. I'm not saying they're horrible, but relatively speaking, shouldn't we expect more?

Also, majority of people who visit these institutions here are, sadly, not as well educated in technology and how computers work.
Which makes teaching stuff more difficult, doesn't it? I don't wanna be mean in any way but sometimes in my class I find people having issues just clicking and dragging and you'd think they've only learnt how to use a computer recently... :-S
Like I said, I don't want to be mean but it's the truth.

So, what relevance is that last paragraph in comparison to self-teaching? Well, formal education is obviously tweaked to facilitate the less technologically aware people, and those of us who are actually quite knowledgable in this stuff have a big head start and find ourselves sitting there thinking "I learnt this whole class online in only a few minutes"!

But what is the point if self-teaching is better?
One of the things that makes formal education better is that you also gain knowledge in how to be a professional. Project planning, meeting deadlines, how to treat clients etc. From school you're prepared to work. From self-teaching, getting into work is rather troublesome. You get used to working in your own time, doing what you want when you want. So when someone comes up and says do this and that by the end of the week, it becomes difficult to transition to this. Sure, you can get it eventually, but it's not as easy if your personality isn't flexible. Then again, the school is 3 years of something you can pick up in half that time online if you're dedicated.

So, once again, I believe that being self-taught actually turns out to be a better way of learning things, but only things that you are passionate about and understand and are ready to sacrifice for, not a spur-of-the-moment thing.
You learn what you want, when you want it! But you also miss out on the important points of formal education: learning etiquette, project planning, deadlines etc. You'd never know about legendary directing methods, or the importance of the evolution of VFX, when you're self taught, unless you wanted to, which I highly doubt.
I'm self-taught, Andrew Kramer is, and so are many people out there. What are you?

What do you think? Are you self-taught or did you go for formal education?

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  1. Thank you, this is exactly what i wanted to get me back on. :)

  2. You're welcome! :D What did you decide? Self-taught or formal education?