“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Dickens’ timeless foresight is an excellent reflection of today’s dualism.
How can the best of times and the worst of times exist simultaneously?
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For those who see opportunities, others see crises.
And no other division exists more than that of the state of contemporary education.
Although the internet democratized education globally, there are protests over education reform.
When self-directed education should be at its zenith, there are still legions of individuals suggesting that superior education should begin and end inside the classroom.
For the first time in the annals of history, the internet allows individuals to educate themselves at the college and graduate levels for free.
Internet users can watch lectures from leading professors at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and Yale by inserting a subject within the YouTube search box.
However, participants must possess the accountability, curiosity, and values to enjoy the best of times.
When there isn’t any accountability, curiosity, or values, these become the worst of times.
Fortunately, strategic introverts can reap the rewards of self-directed learning because of their independence, love of reading and research, and solitude.
Self-directed learning is the way of the future.
Dr. Tracy Harrington-Atkinson stated that self-directed learning is… “The process where individuals take responsibility for their education. Each person determines what they want to learn, sets goals, identifies a process by which they will reach their goals, and evaluate their outcomes. It is a process where an individual takes the initiative without the influence of others” (Lowry, 2010).
Education is seen as valuable. However, it is unclear how to reach a consensus about its application.
In other words, what aspect of the education process will lend itself to optimal results for most people?
College education seems to be losing its appeal generationally.
Abigail Johnson Hess, multimedia reporter for CNBC Make It, said that half of American adults don’t see college as necessary.
Hess stated that:
The biggest shift can be seen among young adults between the ages of 18 and 29. In 2013, 74% of Americans in this age group said college was “very important,” but by 2019, just 41% said the same thing.
In this education conundrum, strategic introverts are inclined to view this crisis as an opportunity.
The question becomes, “How do you connect general interest with cultivated skills that address marketplace needs?”
For strategic introverts developing a self-directed learning process is the best of all worlds.
They can do intellectually enjoyable work while building world-class skills that solve marketplace problems.
And they can do it on their terms.
Self-directed learning should act as a complete educational program tailored to your goals.
Here are five of the best learning strategies for strategic introverts.
Creating a multidiscipline reading schedule
Carrying four or five books in a backpack was the norm for those who remember high school and college.
You carried books for each class to avoid returning them to your school locker.
Your reading habits should convey the same ritual as a young or mature adult.
It would be best if you created your syllabus with biographies, business, marketing, philosophy, and psychology as foundational reading to build upon.
Life-long students never graduate or leave the classroom, metaphorically.
Consequently, your daily regimen should mimic what was instilled in you during high school and college. These rituals lay the foundation for life-long learning.
Watching documentaries to reenact facts
Well-researched documentaries can be educational and entertaining. Adding documentaries to self-directed learning adds color, depth, and dimension to the educational process.
You can often watch reels of historical figures articulating their views and how their contributions impacted the world.
Also, documentaries demystify contributors’ mystique, allowing you to align with their intellectual lineage.
Creating colloquiums in your livingroom
As discussed earlier, YouTube allows you to watch leading professors at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and Yale by inserting a subject within the YouTube search box.
This alternative is convenient and cost-effective.
According to the College Tuition Compare website, the 2021 tuition & fees of Harvard University were $53,968 for their students, and the 2021 graduate school tuition & fees were $50,654.
Although self-directed learners may not obtain a Harvard degree and collegiate connections, social media platforms such as LinkedIn allow you to showcase your intellect and self-education.
I am writing and reflecting through exhibits.
Bodies: The Exhibition is a walkthrough tour showcasing the intricacies of the human body. At the end of the tour, participants are encouraged to write in a journal to give insights and takeaways from the tour.
Whether it’s Bodies: The Exhibition, museums, or other artistic offerings, writing your thoughts about the experience broadens your level of awareness and your critical thinking.
Field trips in elementary school were ways of expanding the education experience. The same applies to adult field trips for self-directed learners.
Documenting your growth through journaling
Journaling is a way of documenting insights, observations, and codifying the educational process.
Journaling is a means of evaluating self-directed education qualitatively.
In traditional education, progress is measured quantitatively through tests.
Self-directed learners evaluate themselves by testing their skills in real-time.
This form of education is steeped in “doing” versus memorizing.
Journaling has many benefits, but it’s best served as a narration of the educational journey.
Yes, it’s the best of times and the worst of times.
But there have never been better opportunities for strategic introverts to maneuver on the world’s stage.
In a high-stakes world where the margin of error is slim, the self-directed learner will inherit the earth.
Atkinson, T. (2015, Sept. 15). What is self-directed learning? Paving the Way. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3oXk6gL.
Dickens, C. (n.d.). Quotes. Goodreads. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3sXk8WS.
Hess, A. (2019, Dec. 20). College grads earn 80% more but only 51% of Americans see college as very important. CNBC Make It. Retrieved from: https://cnb.cx/33zKGoA.
Lowry, C. (2010). What is self-directed learning? Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3oXk6gL.
Paying for Harvard University (n.d.). College Tuition Compare. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3s1RLrx.