The art of self-learning

Email

Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Have you ever played with Lego blocks? You create objects by finding the perfect match for each block to create a car, a house or an airplane. This happens through self-learning.

Similarly, when you draw objects on a paper

and colour them, you take your time to create the sketch and draw what you wanted. Although you never took any classes to create objects from Lego blocks or to make drawings, you developed a sense of how to complete the many steps involved in the process. Moreover, no one taught you to play games on the consoles or mobile phones, you did learn how to complete levels of a game on your own. This is self-learning in effect and it is continuing to evolve your skills every second.

Primarily, our learning begins at home. We learn by observing the actions of our grandparents, parents and siblings. We also learn from their instructions and advice. We also observe our surroundings and learn from our experiences. While schooling is imperative for the growth of our cognition, self-learning is an indispensable tool for success.

Self-learning is particularly important in the current circumstances when educational institutions have been closed for some time and will remain so for a couple of months more. Many school, colleges and universities have turned to online classes, but here too it is one’s skill of self-learning that plays an important role in how much students gain from these classes and their assigned tasks.

In this article, we will look at how you can use the concept of self-learning to achieve the best in the current situation where schools in most part of the world has been closed to due to Covid-19 pandemic. If we were subconsciously able to learn many things on our own before, we should now make the effort to consciously learn the skills that make self-learning effective so that our education does not suffer in this testing time.

Focus

As a student, your focus must be on your studies and to succeed in extracurricular activities. While your teachers will impart information and knowledge to you during online classes and assignments, you must focus on how to improve yourself in the subjects where you think you are weak.

For instance, if studying mathematics is a challenge, you must first accept that you need to make an effort in this subject. Second, you need to focus on learning the mathematical concepts that are a problem for you.

Here, your self-learning initiative will be to carefully study the chapters and complete the exercises on your own. While doing so, you must evaluate yourself based on how much you are learning by practicing the questions yourself.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Watch video tutorials

Learning by watching video tutorials is perhaps one of the best ways to learn a skill and to enhance a skill that you already possess. Gone are the days when acquiring a skill was a time-consuming activity. Today, if you want to learn how to become a public speaker, how to sketch characters, how to ride a bicycle or even how to use graphic designing software, you can learn all the basic and advanced steps by watching video tutorials.

There are many dedicated websites that have video tutorials for students of all levels, and most schools and colleges have been working very hard to provide fruitful online learning material to their students.

Experiment and Investigate

Experimenting is also an incredible tool to self-learn a skill. Your curiosity is satisfied once you experiment and investigate a task.

For instance, you will never learn how many objects you can make with modelling clay (plasticine) until you buy a packet and create objects on your own. It will take time for you to learn how much clay is needed to create a particular object. This is the beauty of learning and self-learning, that you work about your task by investigating its various steps.

Similarly, if you want to learn using a DSLR camera, you can take photographs by experimenting with camera angles, lighting and lenses. Experimenting will help you fine-tune your skills accordingly.

Observe

Along with experimentation, your observation will also help you succeed. When you observe, you consciously and unconsciously absorb the many processes of completing a task.

If you want to learn how to cook noodles, then the best way is to observe your mother or an elder who is cooking noodles.

Through observation, you can learn how to complete tasks such as tying the laces of your shoes, packing your school bag or organising your room. As students, you must have learned several tasks by watching your classmates complete the same task. This may include how to remain punctual, how to complete your homework on time and how to play football, among many other things.

Question

One of the most important aspects of a self-learner is to question everything. You must question your strengths and weaknesses if you want to learn a task. As a student, you try to find out which subjects are easy for you to learn and which subjects you must focus on. You must also question how much time you need to learn a task and if you want someone’s help in this regard. The more questions you ask yourself, the more you will understand yourself.

Evaluate your progress

As a self-learner, you will be teaching yourself through books, videos and personal observation. Therefore, you must evaluate your progress. If you have begun to learn using designing software, you must evaluate how much tools of this software you have learned to use. Here, again, experimenting, observation and questioning will be useful to understand your evolution as a designer.

Self-learning at school/college

You can also use self-learning techniques while pursuing your studies. For instance, when attending your class of physics, you will learn what the teacher will teach while following the syllabus. However, you can add value to your learning by searching online the concepts and theories you learned during class.

You can watch videos of the related content that facilitates your classroom learning. This will help you comprehend the deeper meaning of your syllabus. Such learning will also help you in higher studies and life.

Truthful learning

We do become unrealistic when following our goals. You cannot learn to make realistic paintings in days, but you will need months of continuous practice before completing a piece.

Always make realistic goals when you are self-learning. You need to be patient, enduring and tolerant of your trials, errors and inaccuracies that you will perform when you are self-learning. Be practical, keep your hopes high and be passionate when learning a skill.

I am sure these tips will help you in improving your studies and learn all those things you want to do during these holidays through self-learning. All the best!

Published in Dawn, Young World, April 4th, 2020