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DIY Education: Teach Yourself

DIY Education: Teach Yourself
Studying

    Education is touted as the greatest way to get ahead in this world. And, in general, it’s a great strategy. Maybe you have the perfect idea for an invention and you need a little engineering know-how, or maybe you just need to get ahead of the guy in the next cubicle over. No matter what plan you have for getting ahead, odds are a little learning will help. The problem, as I see it, is that education is also an industry. You want a string of fancy letters behind your name? Prepare to pay for it.

    While you may need a certificate in order to be a licensed professional of some sort, however, you don’t need to attend an expensive class for many of your other learning needs. There are plenty of stunning examples of people who have gotten ahead based on their self-education — enough that there is a fancy term for them; they’re called autodidacts. Step up and join the likes of Benjamin Franklin, Stanley Kubrick and Frank Zappa.

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    Resources — Getting Started


    The Independent Scholar’s Handbook
    — PDF: The Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars has made The Independent Scholar’s Handbook available as a free download. It’s a full book (322 pages) of information on how to study on your own, as well as tips on finding resources on the topics you want to study.

    The Autodidact Project
    : Ralph Dumain has put together information about autodidactism — self-education at the Autodidact Project, including a number of study guides.

    Resources — Learning Materials


    The LifeHack How-To Wiki
    : Consider starting your self-education right here with LifeHack. There’s even an article on self-education on the wiki that you might find useful.

    Fathom
    : A number of universities, led by Columbia University, have put together a whole host of free resources at Fathom. The information is arranged into courses, making it possible to take short classes from the American Film Institute, the London School of Economics and other prestigious institutes for free.

    Wikiversity
    : While there are some pretty significant gaps in the do-it-yourself courses Wikiversity offers, I’ve found some great resources on science and business subjects — two areas that my college major just didn’t emphasize.

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    Mentoring and Interviewing: Just sitting down and talking with someone who is more of an expert on a topic than you are can introduce you to new areas of learning that you hadn’t even considered. You can set up formal interviews with experts or have more casual conversations.

    iTunes U
    : Through iTunes, a huge number of schools offer recordings of lectures in every subject. Currently, I’m working through Stanford’s course on the Future of the Internet, and after that, I’m thinking about listening in on an evolutionary biology class.

    Your Local Library: Most libraries offer far more learning resources than simple how-to books. My boyfriend is currently working his way through our local library’s collection of Chinese lessons on CD. And if you aren’t familiar with your local library, I recommend PublicLibraries.com — it’s a huge directory of public libraries, mostly U.S. with some international listings.

    TheHomeSchoolMom.com
    : TheHomeSchoolMom.com, along with thousands of other homeschooling websites offer up all sorts of free educational resources from curriculums to texts. While these sites rarely have advanced coverage of a topic, if you’re looking to start with the basics, you’re likely to find exactly what you need.

    Project Gutenberg
    : While there are a number of websites where you can get free e-books, Project Gutenberg is one of the best known, and seems to have one of the widest selections. You may not be able to find many technical works there, but if you’re interested in the classics or history, Project Gutenberg is the place to go.

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    Staying on Track

    Anyone can read a book. Most people can even report back on the pertinent information that book contained. But it can be much harder to synthesize information together from multiple sources, especially if those sources have been picked out without a clear plan of attack. I’ve been known to do this — I pick up random books at the library and start in on new topics with no plan whatsoever. Learn from my mistake — trying to put together ideas on the fly can be extremely difficult.

    If you’re starting in on a new topic, it makes sense to make a plan of some sort. Your plan doesn’t need to be much more formal than “I’m going to read the Wikipedia article on Topic X, and then check if the library has any of the books Wikipedia cites.” That much of a plan, though, keeps you from coming up with a book list with fifty books that you won’t be able to finish. (Once again, I speak from experience.)

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    From there, your self-education can be as simple as reading and taking a few notes. I generally try to write up some sort of report or article on a new topic, just because information seems to stick a bit better when I explain it to someone else. I can just about always find a new home for such a report, as well — a blog post, an article, etc. Occasionally, I even manage to get paid for all that learning I’ve done.

    Lastly…

    I don’t have anything against formalized learning — I really enjoy lecture-format classes, actually — but if I took all the classes I wanted to, my student loans would be equal to the national debt. Studying on my own has made continuing my education far less expensive and potentially more interesting. I never know what my new learning might suggest for the next topic of study.

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    Last Updated on November 11, 2019

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

    To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

    Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

    1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

    Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

    Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

    To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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    2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

    Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

    If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

    Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

    3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

    Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

    Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

    4. Feed Your Brain

    Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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    This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

    Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

    Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

    5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

    According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

    Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

    Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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    6. Write it Down

    If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

    It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

    You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

    7. Listen to Music

    Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

    8. Visual Concepts

    In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

    Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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    Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

    9. Teach Someone Else

    Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

    Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

    10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

    Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

    So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

    Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

    More About Boosting Memory

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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