Systematic and Serendipitous
The two concepts - systematic and serendipitous - sound like opposites, but as I evaluate my self-directed education over the past four years (or so!), that's exactly what it's been.
Systematic, because I identified the areas I needed to grow in - usually through some emergency or other (in the case of accounting and website design) or because I can see great potential in knowing more.
Other things - the things I guess you'd learn in a BA like philosophy and history - have come later on, because they didn't seem that relevant to start off with. When I began, I just wanted to learn things that would help me day-to-day. I didn't think about context much.
This year, more than any other, I've taken in big picture learning. I've read books all the way through - a huge achievement for me! I'm discovering the historical context for the present.
And then there's serendipity's role in my education. I guess it's actually Divine intervention, but I use serendipity both because it sounds nice and this blog is a fairly pluralistic forum.
There's serendipity on how I discover source material - how the jobs I'm working on, the books that happen to be up for review or hiding in second-hand stores combine to give me a comprehensive and unorthodox view of an issue.
I can say it's working for me, but the same thing turned into a formula wouldn't work (I don't think) for anyone else. It's completely unique to the individual.
So, does the combination of system and serendipity have anything useful to say in how people are taught? Or have I just been lucky?
A note on self-directed education - I know we've broached this subject before - mine wasn't particularly by choice; I just didn't have the money to do a degree when I wanted to. When I did have the money, I didn't find a course that seemed as valuable as the money I'd be parting with.
Better to let the hunger develop, then go in search of the right food, rather than eat any ol' thing and end up just feeling full and useless.