I am becoming really bored with politics, and there is much I wished to contribute to the discussions on Chip's blog post below; but they were way off his topic. It has now veered into territory I find nearly irresistible, discussing the question of the value or necessity of acquiring one's education in college, under the tutelage of pointy-headed professors, instead of practically out in the real world, individually. I hope to lure this important and timely discussion over here...
I too am an autodidact, and proud of it. I have never spent a day in college, and thank whatever gods may be for any providence behind that good fortune. I don't consider myself uneducated, for lack of a degree; quite the opposite. I consider avoiding the stultifying environs of academia, to have enhanced my level of education, which is still very much an independent work in progress. Besides, I have lived an infinitely more interesting life as an entrepreneur, than I would have as a degreed electronic engineer employee, which was all I ever wanted to be growing up.
School was always so easy for me that it was boring. Our teacher-centered education system requires that class must be taught at or near the speed of the slowest student, and I was not slow. Even though I was taking all college prep courses, half way through high school I became so bored as a bookish nerd that I took up cars and girls for hobbies, which required a serious job to finance. I soon found I had no time available in my busy schedule to do the homework. I figured out that as long as I aced their silly tests, they couldn't flunk me for not doing any homework. If I could read the history chapter once and get 100% on the test, why bother with the exercises?
Thus, my straight 'A' record for ten years degenerated into a 'C' average, much to the consternation of the guidance counselors, who whined that I could be the class valedictorian, if I would just apply myself. Their academic mindset just couldn't comprehend that I was actually learning as much, if not more, than anyone else; just not bothering with the academic busywork, worrying over achievement scores, or seeking honorifics, which seemed to be the focus of their pathetic lives.
A 'C' average wasn't earning me any scholarships, my parents couldn't afford tuition, and I don't recall college loans even being an option back then. Besides, if I didn't have the inclination to do required homework, what sort of self-discipline would I be able to muster, to even attend classes in college? I decided I needed to grow up a bit first, while earning the GI Bill, by getting my military duty over with before starting college, so I enlisted in the Army straight out of high school. My experiences with college graduate lieutenants therein, were my first clue that attending college might not be all it was cracked up to be.
My Signal Corps tech schooling and real world experience, on the cutting edge of technology, got me an awesome job after discharge. This soon led to a two-year overseas assignment in the Seychelles Islands, as a tech-rep in the fledgling spy-in-the-sky satellite field. Not only was it nature's last unspoiled paradise at the time, I was earning the equivalent of a little over 700 oz. of gold per year (do the math), and by staying out of the country for at least 512 days, it was all tax free! A country boy doesn't need a degree to know enough to make hay while the sun is shining; the GI Bill and college just had to wait.
...more to follow, if there is any interest in furthering the discussion. ◄Dave►