Self-education is a Little Over-rated. But it’s Cheap.

Can I just say, Google has been my best friend for some time now. We’ve had our ups and downs, and yes, there are days I want to throw Google out the window, but most days we get along just peachy.
I’m a huge fan of self-education. I always have been. You know how it goes. You’re walking down the street and you see an accordion in the nearest store window. You think to yourself, “Hey, I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the accordion.” Or, “Hey, I wonder who invented the accordion.” Or, “Hey, I wonder how far I can throw an accordion.” Then you get on your favorite device and Google it.
(I must digress a moment since you might be wondering what’s up with all the accordion references. My husband plays the accordion. In fact, he competed in several national accordion competitions growing up and even won DUKE one year. Does that make me a duchess? With that said, his accordion has been the brunt of more than a few jokes. And if you’re wondering how far you can throw an accordion, the answer is: Not far enough. Oh, and if you’re looking for the funniest accordion video in the world, it’s here… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao6JntNIPHc. Okay. I’m done. Sorry hun.)
Anyway, my philosophy is that between the library and Google, I can learn just about anything. We live in the information age, right? RIGHT!!! It’s so amazing what you can learn from people around the world. And because it’s on the internet it’s open and available for all to see, hear, and read. The best—and worst—of humanity is right at our fingertips 24/7.
So for a person like me that 1) struggles to stick with just one hobby, and 2) couldn’t stand school while she was in it, the Library + Google = The Perfect Answer. Or as Matt Damon said in Good Will Hunting, You dropped a hundred and fifty grand on an education you coulda’ got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the Public Library.”
On the internet I’ve learned how to snowboard, I’ve taken a trip to the Forbidden City in China, I’ve translated my thoughts into Spanish, and I’ve watched my kids learn how to play their favorite top 40 songs on the piano. It’s awesome. Especially when it comes to writing. I’ll be working on a scene like I was this morning and think to myself, “I have no idea what I’m talking about.” This thought comes quite often, actually. Then I’ll jump on Google and educate myself. There are thousands, if not millions, of blogs and free websites from people who are willing to share their knowledge with me and the rest of the world. It’s mega awesome!
However…
(There’s always a “However” isn’t there?)
There’s something to be said for a formal education. Did I really just say that? Friends and family, please don’t drop dead. But after years of trying to self-educate myself, I’ve learned that there are simply some things you can’t learn online. I’m sure my editor would agree.

For example, sure I’ve watched a couple people show me the basics of snowboarding on youtube, but 1) How do I know that they know what they’re talking about? and 2) How much have I actually learned without taking a single step on the snow? And on the flip-side, in the few areas where I actually do have some legitimate education, I see all sorts of incorrect information out there, which is what happened to me today. Even on reputable websites.

Not to mention, you can find opposing answers to pretty much any question. (How cool are accordions? Not cool enough to have the answer on Google. Okay. I really am done.) 

So writers, readers, and anxious learners…beware. Self-education is awesome, fun, exciting, and sadly, still a lot of hard work. But it is also over-rated. One thing is certain, though: it’s cheap. Which is why I will keep doing it.
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Author: Rebecca Belliston @rlbelliston

Hopeless romantic and author of CITIZENS OF LOGAN POND, SADIE and AUGUSTINA. Music nerd and composer of RELIGIOUS and CLASSICAL-STYLE music. I live in Michigan with my husband and five kids.

5 thoughts on “Self-education is a Little Over-rated. But it’s Cheap.”

  1. I agree. I would love to go back to school, but the cheap option is all I have right now. But there is much to be learned from other people's experiences. To take it all in and then be the judge if it's useful or not. It's a lot of work, but I it makes me feel like I'm growing, no matter how slowly. :)

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