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Not a Synonym for self learning[edit]

Nowhere other than Wikipedia is this word a synonym for self taught. There is a drastic difference between being self taught and having an ability to educate your self to advanced levels of education that normal requires professors and teachers. The use of the word for hundreds of years has been reserved for very special people that show an unusual ability to advance their education beyond that normally attainable by a person without schooling. Recreating the english language at a third grade level of understanding is not the mission of Wikipedia. Please stop. (talk) 01:05, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Agree. First of all "autodidacticism" is not in any of the dictionaries I checked, with or without hyphen. Nor is "autodidactic" shown as a synonym. I see the first problem with the term is it assumes intention. "Didactic" is a word that describes something "intended for instruction; inclined to teach or lecture others too much; i.e. a didactic speaker; teaching or intending to teach a moral lesson." It therefore ignores those who out of necessity and inability to stay in school get a job, for example, and learn whatever skills they obtain while working to survive. The same goes for those who just want to write, play an instrument, or learn about the world, mechanics, or nature.
It also uses a pompous, 7-syllable word, instead of a simple and understandable one. A search in Google for both "autodidactism" and "self-educated" shows that over 99.5% of searchers use "self-education" (or "self-educated") instead of "autodidactism." Personally, I would not simply change the name of this article, I wouldn't even bother having "autodidactism" redirect to it as it is such an abstract seldom-used term. In any case, anyone who did a search based on that word would obviously know what it meant. --Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 18:46, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

You're arguing semantics. The prefix 'auto' comes from 'auto-' in Greek, which means 'self', and 'didactism' comes from the Greek word 'didaktikos' which means "apt at teaching". So autodidactism merely means to self-teach or pursue studies independent of organized curriculum for personal advancement. All the listed individuals on the page have demonstrated a form of autodidactism concerning particular areas of interest -- they had no formal instruction. They were practicing autodidacticism. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:21, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

"Autodidactism", as a word, is only found on Wikipedia. When I typed in "Autodidact" I was very surprised at the article's name. Its rather silly for Wikipedia to make up a word. Can we move this to "Autodidact" or something? --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 20:11, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

Self Study is a growing world wide movement that has little in common with Autodidacticism[edit]

Self study is almost always an independent individual using a text book, purchased course ware, open course ware or even Wikipedia to get an advanced education. Free open University offers and entire degree based on content from Wikipedia. This is as close to Autodidact as self study gets. self Study should have its own page.

This is most certainly a false statement "A person may become an autodidact at nearly any point in his or her life." children and infants are not autodidact. Didactic is to teach. A person must be capable and understanding of the concept and methods of some for of teaching before one can be a didactic or autodidact. This usually happens later in life with most people and never as a child.

Just because a person becomes famous for something with out a degree does not make then an autodidact. none of the people throughout history who referred to them selves as autodidacts demonstrate the attributes of the autodidact.

Geniuses, child prodigies and those who intentional taught themselves to recognized advanced levels of learning with out teachers or universities are rare and your list is far too long. A person who plays or even writes music is not an autodidact. If you do not understand what a didactic is, please do not add to this article. A person can not be an autodidact if they are not a didactic person. I recommended this article for deletion and start from scratch with someone who knows the definition of the term and respect hundreds of years of use and established meaning. (talk) 11:08, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Questionable attribution of Einstein quotation[edit]

According to wikiquote, at <>, "The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education" is misattributed. Barring further evidence of the quoatation's authenticity, I nominate that part of this page for deletion. Mang 23:57, 30 April 2006 (UTC) Einstein may very well have said it, but the first person to say it was Mark Twain, FYI. JJ4sad6 23:33, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Indeed, Mark Twain said it, I think, "I never let my education get in the way of my learning." -Rebuttal 00:15, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Older comments[edit]

One can not literally be described as "self taught" by mostly limiting their learning to reading books (as opposed to attending conventional schools), given that books are written by others. By reading they are being TAUGHT, just indirectly through the medium of writing. --- My impression is that an autodidact is a self-taught SCHOLAR, or someone in scholarly pursuits. I do not think Uma Thurman or Phillip K Dick should be on the list. They simply left school to pursue a career. Otherwise, any in a career who dropped out or skipped college (including Peter Jennings, Bill Gates) would fall into the category. That misses the spirit of the term.

Second. Indeed! We have to add only the greatest autodidacts, e.g. Leonardo Da Vinci. Feel free to change the list in any way you feel will suit.
That sounds like a good differentiation. Though, even though PK Dick wasn't a scholar, he was a professional intellectual who apparently educated/trained himself. And Uma Thurman, if she educated/trained herself how to act, could be seen as a kind of autodidactic artist, which seems much more relevant than an 'autodidactic businessman' or 'autodidactic journalist'. We could have a main list of autodidactic scholars, and an ancillary list for autodidactic intellectuals and artists.--Nectarflowed 01:18, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)

How about any successful person, especially if in the public eye, who happened to start but not finish college? The strict sense of autodidacticism is self-teaching. Self-directed education is a weak meaning of the word, because virtually everyone self-directs unless they are an indentured servant, or are psychologically manipulated. I attempted to soften the text somewhat in this regard. Feel free to help clarify (or refute) this distinction. --Blainster 19:55, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

David Friedman[edit]

Would David Friedman be considered an autodidact? He has reportedly never taken a formal economics class (he was a Physics major), and he now teaches Economics at the University of Chicago and writes books on the subject. --DropDeadGorgias (talk) 18:43, Nov 29, 2004 (UTC)

Yeah, I think that's part of a larger point. Many of the people on our list probably wouldn't think of themselves using the specific term autodidact, even though their biographies clearly meet the definitions of the term.--Nectarflowed 01:18, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
If you check the Friedman link, you will see he has been at University of Santa Clara since 1995. As the son of Nobel economist Milton Friedman, he would hardly qualify as an autodidact, even if he never took an economics class (unless he was not raised by his father). --Blainster 18:56, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Not a stub?[edit]

Even though the page is huge, the actual information on autodidactism seems small. The statement "Inquiry into autodidacticism has implications in learning theory and educational theory, educational research, educational philosophy and educational psychology." seems like it should lead into a very detailed discussion. This is why I had left the {{stub}}. JesseHogan 20:48, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Agree. Anyone who wants to do some research for this article (which appears to be a popular one) might start with the book The Passion To Learn: An Inquiry into Autodidactism by Joan Solomon. The product description writes: "The final chapter addresses the implications of autodidactism for educational theory, research, philosophy and psychology."--Nectarflowed 23:49, 19 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Autodidactic Category[edit]

Would it not be appropriate to create an autodidactic category and use it as an alternative to the enourmous list we have going. JesseHogan 03:34, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I removed the list and created a category for Autodidacts. I'm hopeful that this will lead to a more thorough and accurate listing of famous autodidacts.JesseHogan 04:46, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I have added your new category to the "Category" section, although it is embedded in the article's text. --Blainster 18:18, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I felt like it should be removed so I took it out. Autodidacts are people, so it seems illogical to list a method of learning (Autodidacticism) under a classification of people. The category page and this article both link to one another so there shouldn't be an issue with page discovery. JesseHogan 23:19, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Sources & References[edit]

How about including some references for this article and sources for the quotes? I found the source of the Huston Smith quote - Can anyone help with others? --Blainster 19:41, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Why is there a link to Atheist material in the links section. What does this have to do with anything? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:20, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

Dubious statements[edit]

I've removed two subsequent sentences:

Autodidacticism, it must be stressed, is a highly unusual pedagogic phenomenon whereby a subject will develop a skill without external stimulae.

I suspect this lacks meaning as long as "external stimulae" remains undefined. Motivation has its roots somewhere.

Consequently, learning physics from books borrowed from the library cannot be considered autodidactism, but rather an alternative, and often less common, means of approaching the core material.

I believe that if Joseph Campbell had been reading about physics, he would still have been an autodidact. Conf 11:16, 1 September 2005 (UTC) Sorry if this is the wrong way to do things. But I (different from the one above) think that this line, "Alan Watts is a notable autodidact who blew an Eastern philosophical breeze Westward to turn many Western minds on to the notion of Zen." is a bit out style. Does wikipedia talk of people blowing breezes? Alan watts, who ever he is, isnt Zephyrus

I noticed it was out-of-place too. I'll try to rewrite it. - Cyborg Ninja 04:51, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Reading his wiki page, Alan Watts does not strike me as being particularly autodidactic. His expertise and contributions are in the field of religion and comparative religion, fields that he received quite substantial formal training in. He had many Buddhist teachers and influences, and followed various eastern gurus. As for Western religions, he was educated at Anglican schools and has a Master's degree in theology. The gist of it is that he does not seem to be a very good example of autodidacticism, given that most Eastern Buddhists and similar monks and gurus learn in this fashion. If he is an autodidact, then it may be likely that many other monks and students of Buddhism and Zen would make it on the list. I have removed him completely. Starseeker shkm (talk) 06:02, 20 September 2008 (UTC)


The page says Joseph Campbell is seen as a foremost authority on methodology, shouldn't it be mythology instead? I'd guess one could argue that is work was on the methodology of mythology but still that seems pretty weird to me.

I'll change it to "autodidacticism", which is the methodology itself, however there is also methodology (methods) of autodidacticism, but that is probably not the point. Conf 10:08, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedian automaths[edit]

I have recently created a userbox and catagory for automaths right here on wikipedia! If you consider yourself an automath then I encourage you to show your pride and add this userbox by adding the template {{User automath}} or, equivalently, the userbox,

49px This user is an automath.

Adding this userbox automatically adds you to this catagory. --Hypergeometric2F1(a,b,c,x) 04:53, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

There is also a userbox for self-educated individuals: {{User self-educated}}.
Ironwolf (talk) 08:43, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Autodidact Degrees?[edit]

Howdy, does anyone know if there are ways to earn advanced degrees through this method? For my part, I feel like I've wasted my time and money earning the BA I have. I've learned more on my own than I have going to my school. Unfortunately, if I want to get into public administration or foreign affairs, I seem to need a degree. So again, does anyone know if there are higher education programs that recognize this method? Somehow, knowing how much of a racket education really is, I doubt it. If there is, maybe we can include information about it on the article page? JJ4sad6 23:42, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

That is a really good question.--Hypergeometric2F1(a,b,c,x) 06:05, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
The University of Openess may interest you. It's kinda a precursor to Wikiversity but with use of premises in London. 12:37, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
If you're interested in learning about business, check out The Personal MBA. It has a list of books designed to help you educate yourself about business.

Jacotot's Autodidacticism[edit]

Jacotot 'discovered that he could teach things he did not know (for instance, Jacotot taught Flemish students to speak French without speaking any Flemish himself).' Jacotot taught French, not knowing Flemish, but knowing French. Therefore, he taught something he DID know! It's like, I can't speak Korean, but I can get a job teaching Koreans to speak English. Does this strike anyone else as slightly odd? If I could teach these self-same Koreans (or anyone, for that matter) to speak Urdu, THAT would be amazing. FlyBang 23:53, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

Rather absurdly odd. Way back in 1965 I learned Vietnamese from an ARVN sergent who didn't speak english - in a standard military language school in Danang. I'd say it was the way a whole bunch of Marines learned the language, nothing unusual about that. Our ARVN teacher no doubt learned quite a bit of English from us too, therefor we must have been truly geniuses or ...
Point is: Jacotot was teaching something he did know very well ... so, that section has nothing to do with the subject and should be removed - or just use a better example as that one totally fails. Vsmith 03:48, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
The passage really makes no sense as written, for the reason stated by editor FlyBang. Not only that, the practice of (for example) having a person who speaks and understands only English teach English to Koreans is probably pretty common! The "for instance" example given is not a "for instance" or "example" of teaching things that the teacher does not know. Yours, Famspear 18:08, 18 May 2007 (UTC)


"Autodidacticism" has a preposterously inflated air in modern English, when "self-education" and "self-educated" are available and say precisely the same thing. The flaws of self-education are comparable to the products of home schooling, which needs to be linked from this article. Everyone is self-educated: a university environment does not in itself apply an education to a passive recipient, as a contemporary example at the highest level so vividly demonstrates.--Wetman 14:50, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

I disagree with your comparison. While it's easier to use the term "self-educated" in conversation, "autodidact" is a noun and better-suited for literature. The differences between an autodidact and someone who attends regular schooling (or even is home-schooled) and studies on their own now and then are many. The major thing is that the latter reads something broad and general now and then, while an autodidact researches extensively on a subject. Their interests are also quite different. This may seem subjective, but I find it to be the case and I think many would agree with me. - Cyborg Ninja 04:51, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
There are a variety of differences. First, the word Autodidacticism makes no assumption of what it means to be "educated". Instead, it implies a continuing quest for knowledge that has little to do with a common notion of "being educated". Similarly, "self taught" implies teaching a vocational skill, or having been "taught" a skill that can now be applied. Both of these terms have a notion of an end in common, while autodidacticism implies a life long quest for knowledge who's goal is not to be "taught" anything. A more relevant term would be "self learned"...but that just sounds silly. For me, autodidact would roughly translate to "self learning person". While the notion of everyone being "self educated" is highly debatable, it makes no difference because it would be a distinction of degree rather than kind.--Hypergeometric2F1(a,b,c,x) 22:06, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
Autodidacticism is a philosophy of taking personal responsibility for one's learning throughout life. Autodidacts may use books, computers, mentors, traditional classrooms, or other pedagogical tools (and of course personal experience), and they may or may not be historically notable individuals. The key distinction is that the autodidact is aware that they are continuously educating themselves to their own ends. Homeschooling is not autodidacticism— it is traditional curricular schooling at home. Unschooling comes closer, but does not necessarily include the element of personal responsibility. Another way to think about autodidacticism is simply individualism applied to learning. — Ironwolf (talk) 09:02, 28 November 2007 (UTC)


This article is not up to Wikipedia standards. For one thing, half of the article consists of quotations from supposed-autodidacts. There are few citations. There's an entire category about a fictional book. Much of the article is poorly-written, particularly the category on famous autodidacts. I suggest to anyone reading this post: please edit this article and make it better. I'm doing what I can while trying to keep the people who added content happy. - Cyborg Ninja 14:35, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

Indeed. Most of the "Noted" section is just quotes from famous people about their disdain for formal education with no data about their supposed self-teaching (especially the Frank Zappa quote). A quarter of the kids in your average high school think education is a joke. Does that make them autodidacts? Sharpvisuals (talk) 18:39, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

I am unconvinced by the discussions here that "autodidact" is a term superior to "self-taught"; "Autodidact is most definitely a term less clear and less familiar. This opinion is not swayed by the first paragraph in the first section of substance -- "Modern Education and Autodidacticism", which comprises three statements that do not relate to each other, let alone flow in a way that guides the reader. The paragraph (string of sentensesin question is: "Autodidacticism is sometimes a complement of modern education.[1] Students should be encouraged to do more independent work.[2] While Leonardo da Vinci was a privileged autodidact, the Industrial Revolution created a new situation." Each sentence might be the start of an entire paragraph, but stitched end to end, my response to each sentence is "Really?? Prove it." If someone else knows what is being attempted, maybe they can rewrite it clearly. If not, lets dump the whole paragraph. GeeBee60 (talk) 06:38, 12 October 2015 (UTC)

Do not add more material without citations[edit]

Particularly to the Notable autodidacts section. If I see it, I will be forced to delete it for lack of evidence. If it is a famous and well-known autodidact like Ramanujan, then I might try to add a reference myself; but otherwise, no. - Cyborg Ninja 21:14, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Gender Bias[edit]

It's interesting that there are no women in this list. It could be that the term autodidact is constructed as a masculine term (since women's achievements are often in spheres that are unrecognised by society and therefore none of the contributors would have heard of them), or it could also be that our society is constructed in such a way that women are intentionally barred from self-education. Anyway, if anybody can think of good female examples, feel free to add them. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:13, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

If you cannot think of any, perhaps your mind is constructed in such a way that women are intentionally barred from self-education? If there are notable women (Ayn Rand may be an example), they will be added to the list, and has nothing to do with any agenda. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:29, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia Gender Bias[edit]

The Gender bias is entirely Wikipedias. There are many more women autodidacts than men and a large number of Black autodidacts as well. The women who solved the math for Albert Einstein and actually demonstrated the E=MC2 equation was the daughter of a famous mathematician but was not permitted to attend university because of her gender. It is reported that she did get special permission to attend lectures on occasion but was required to sit in the hall and look in through the door way. As you well know. On Wikipedia, women still sit in the hall, maybe one day we will let them in. (talk) 17:10, 17 April 2009 (UTC)

Yeah, let's have the politically correct Wikipedia. Anyway, if you think those people should be in the article, add them yourself... --Taraborn (talk) 00:12, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
The myth that Einstein's wife did his math has been thoroughly debunked. The documentary (I do not recall the name of the top of my head) that helped spread this myth is considered bad science at best, deliberate fraud at worst.
The claim that there would be more female than male autodidacts also strikes me as strange, based on my own experiences, but I grant that these cannot be considered conclusive evidence. Then again, neither can yours. (talk) 15:35, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

This is a strange place to air these politically correct concerns. Who are these autodidacts you mention? Care to share? The list is supposed to be illustrative, not representative. AleXd (talk) 13:52, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

For centuries all the Black and Female leaders that demonstrated great learning had to have learned without college, your people would not let them in even as you exclude them here today. (talk) 06:48, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

To the IP above -- if there are examples, add them. Possible politically correct wishful thinking is not evidence. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:32, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

Added the Nobel Prize of Literature José Saramago[edit]

You may know, José Saramago (Nobel Prize of Literature) at the age of 13 he was forced to abandon the studies and began to work as a mechanic. Then, he continued working as a locksmith for 30 years. Failed publishing his first novel in 1947. Saramago is a self made man, which without studies won the Nobel Prize of Literature. I find this important, to quote him as an autodidact. The reference where this is explained is here: An interview Saramago granted to the BBC. It is in Spanish (Saramago is a long term resident in Spain, in Las Islas Canarias). In the interview you will learn that he was an autodidact.

Winston Churchill[edit]

He is another Nobel Prize in Literature laureate; he just didn't go to university so he might be an autodidact.Amacfiew (talk) 13:05, 21 May 2010 (UTC)

Lee Sallows quote[edit]

Perhaps this quote may be integrated:

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Merge with Self-directed (teaching style)[edit]

"Self-directed teaching style" and "autodidacticism" are synonyms. As such, Self-directed (teaching style) should be merged here. Neelix (talk) 14:34, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

It should be the other way around. "Autodidacticism" is not a word. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 20:12, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
Agree, the article should be for Autodidact, which is a word listed in any suitably large dictionary, while Autodidacticism is found mostly on-line and is not recognized by my spell-checker (which does know Autodidact). K8 fan (talk) 20:26, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

autodidact versus self-taught / self-trained[edit]

"Didacticism" is a philosophy of education, but "autodidactism" is the practice of self-learning.

The best synonym for "autodidact" is "self-trained" or "self-taught". I am not aware of any other synonym.

I disagree with some of the previous users who think that the difference between an autodidact and a self-trained resides in the level of learning.

Maybe the article should include a differentiation between the original meaning of the term and its modern use.

--Christophe Krief (talk) 13:01, 15 October 2010 (UTC)


-- (talk) 02:30, 7 December 2010 (UTC) Jean-Jacques Rousseau should be added to the list.

Autodidact missing[edit]

Self taught, historically significant, Aristotle. That he is not on this same said autodidact page as a reference, I cast serious doubt anyone here IS an autodidact. 2011-01-06 T14:41 Z-8 PST (talk) 22:42, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

Removed Adolf Hitler[edit]

Since the list of autodidacts is meant to be illustrative, and not exhaustive, and since evidence of Hitler as an autodidact is of dubious quality (at best), I found it prudent to remove him from this list. I'd also just like to add that whoever decided to list him as "Chancellor of Germany", should take a good look at his view of history. Shiningheart (talk) 15:31, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

Article Split[edit]

Given the exhaustive nature of the list of notable autodidactics, I propose that a new article be created under the title List of notable autodidactics as per the guidelines for WP:SPLITTING. I will leave this matter for discussion or until consensus is reached on what I should do. I have placed a split template on the section in question. --DiscipleOfKnowledge (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 14:08, 23 March 2011 (UTC).

  • I support this split as it will clarify the article and call for more researches on autodidactism. I have created the section "architecture" but many other professions encounter their own specificities and difficulties regarding self-learning. I think also that the subject of autodidactism should be much more extended in its non professional nature. Autodidactism in everyday life, in learning a language, in relationship, in religion and so on. I totally support the split.--Christophe Krief (talk) 15:09, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Support A split seems like a good idea, and is completely in line with standard practice throughout Wikipedia. Revcasy (talk) 15:14, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Yes check.svg Done I have created a new article List of notable autodidacts and accordingly removed the section "Notable autodidacts". "Autodidact" according to the OED is the proper term. Feel free to review the article as it still needs a lot of work. Thanks for your feedback.--User:DiscipleOfKnowledge (talk) 12:51, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Unfortunately, I have not been paying attention. The change surprised me, as I point to this page from several places and expect that someone would find quickly the person to whom I reference. The page has degraded, in a sense. Why do only 'literature and fiction' (oh sure, as if this is what we deal with mainly) and then 'architecture' have their own sections? I would say to shorten these two and then have subsections on mathematics, scientists, and artists. From each of these, there could a link to the page listing the autodidacts of note. jmswtlk (talk) 19:03, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
I think that the idea is to expend this article with other disciplines. I do not understand your proposition to truncate the existing sections. The article needs new sections created by expert autodidacts from different disciplines. A section about autodidactism in everyday life as well as autodidactism in other non-professional fields would also be interesting. I do not see the point to have an article for each profession at this stage, but that can be debated. --Christophe Krief (talk) 09:35, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
There are only a couple major themes on the main page, dealing with writing and architecture. Why not have a short section for each section (re-section) found on the "List of notable autodidacts" page? Take mathematics, for instance. We could list a few and their contributions on the main page, such as Bowditch (picked due a New England bias - oh, perhaps, that's the problem, who to put in a summary?). At the same time, add in why medicine is not the field for an autodidact as an example of its (meaning, autodidactism's) shortcomings. Ought I add, written as an autodidact?jmswtlk (talk) 20:08, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
Ah, wait! Perhaps, one could argue that the time of residency is just that, a place where an autodidact's view is necessary. The opportunity to find one's way through a whole lot of stuff, so to speak. In terms of the modern age's demands upon us, one might say that dealing with anything outside of one's expertise (as in, academically derived knowledge) requires the spirit of the autodidact. Otherwise, one takes a whole bunch on faith that the other person (read, expert) knows their stuff (this can be observed everywhere). jmswtlk (talk) 20:56, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

Historical education levels[edit]

I am conducting a study of the history of technology and economic history since the industrial revolution, so when I saw this article, I thought it was appropriate to mention the increasing education levels and changing nature of education since that time. I also think it should be pointed out that many technical fields of knowledge did not exist before roughly 1800. These include chemistry and chemical engineering, thermodynamics, electromagnetic theory and electrical engineering and mechanical and civil engineering. For example, when Samuel Slater arrived in the U.S. in 1789 with the designs of British textile machinery he memorized, he was unable to find a mechanic to build this machinery. Some of the machine tools tools necessary to build precision machinery would not be invented until about 1820.

I chose James Watt to try to illustrate the type of people who are difficult to classify. Watt was doing basic research that would lead to thermodynamics and mechanical engineering.

I am open to suggestions for a title for this section. I will leave that and further editing to others and only come back to check for accuracy. The references I provided are very pertinent to the subject, although neither were looking for self-taught individuals, they mentioned a few. Robinson & Musson (1969) tell about scientific teaching during the industrial revolution while Thomson (2009) gives a lot of data on educational levels of inventors.Phmoreno (talk) 13:39, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

  • Hi, I am bothered with the title "Historical education levels" because this article is about self-learning. I understand the point of explaining education in the 19th century and earlier; it demonstrates that self-learning was very common at that time. Instead of "Historical education levels" I propose to change the title to "Nineteenth century and earlier" as I think that it will be more adapted to the article.
  • I also propose to remove the information about Watt's friendship. Many notable autodidacts aren't included in the article. I think that Watt is not that important as an autodidact and his friendship with Joseph Black is not relevant in this article.--Christophe Krief (talk) 11:59, 2 February 2012 (UTC)
I'll give some more thought to what to call the section. Whatever it is called it needs to be include. Otherwise the article is misleading and seriously incomplete. As for Watt and Black's friendship, I will change that to reflect the correspondence, which is published. I have a copy and skimmed through it. Watt and Black's correspondence discussed experiments and findings related to heat capacity, steam properties and how that related to the steam engine. Anyway, I will just remove part of the sentence until I have time to read the correspondence, after which I can add the detail. It's very important to discuss people like Watt and other important historical figures. Another person needing mention is Henry Ford.Phmoreno (talk) 13:06, 2 February 2012 (UTC)
To put it in more fundamental terms, "self-taught" is an imprecise definition, and until this is addressed, the article will be seriously deficient. See: Talk:Autodidacticism#Not a Synonym for self learning Therefore I am proposing that the definition be revised to state the difficulty in defining autodidacticism and to add some historical information in the lede. Also, all candidates on the list of List of notable autodidacts should have a summary of their educational background following their name.Phmoreno (talk) 14:02, 2 February 2012 (UTC)
  • As already stated in the page above (see autodidact versus self-taught / self-trained), self-taught or self-trained is the best synonym for autodidact. Are you aware of another one? The problem with education levels as per your title is that it refers to a hierarchy of education which is proper to academic systems and completely foreign to autodidactism... The idea of levels is also found in the idea of degrees. An autodidact does not study to reach a level or a degree. An autodidact only seeks knowledge. You have admitted inserting some of your researches to this article. I think that most of your insertions are relevant, but you should be more careful to stay within the subject of the article. For example you do not make a point on the purpose of your insertions. Why do you bring the subject of education in the 18th and 19th century? I think that you want to explain that autodidactism was more a necessity before than it is now (correct me if I am wrong), but you fail to make this point in the article and it is unclear why you are zapping from autodidactism to levels of education. Also If you want to extend on Watt, maybe you should create another section related to his speciality. Something like "Autodidactism in literature" or "Autodidactism in Architecture"----Christophe Krief (talk) 00:33, 3 February 2012 (UTC)Christophe Krief (talk) 00:06, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
I have tried to follow your advise about the relevance of the new section. I have changed the title and created a parallel between education and autodidactism to show that while modern education split with the classics, autodidacticism endured a similar metamorphosis. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:50, 3 February 2012 (UTC)

Independent study[edit]

Please do not merge this article with "independent study". The 2 subjects are not related and there are no good reasons to merge. The "independent study" article is short and if it must be merged, it would be more appropriate to consider the "education" article for this purpose. Independent study is not autodidactism.--Christophe Krief (talk) 23:02, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

As an aside, why isn't Bill Gates on the list of autodidacts? He's mentioned only for the fact of this computational framework example. Over many decades, I have seen it to be a fact that with a motivated person, you teach them one programming language, and they can pick up others. Of course, it may take a little effort. Autodidactism, in one sense, allows that as it takes advantage of an open'd door, so to speak. Notice, though, that the person could become effective in using a language, not necessarily pass an academic test (not the issue). Autodidactism is not just about self (or independent) study, rather it's related to effectiveness (as in, what comes out of the learning). So, in a sense, kinesthetic feel can be self-taught, it's not just book learning that is the issue, though the jaw-drop aspect has to do a lot with higher forms of thought (not skate-boarding, yet why not have some superior boarder on the list?). Actually, the key thing, in my mind, is being mentor-free. As in, there is not someone who could offer the inter-disciplinarian view (or particular twist) that the autodidact is seeking. Mentor-less, by no means, implies any anti-social characteristic (rather, it's pointing to a fact that we see touched on too lightly, life-long learning - again, remember effectiveness). Autodidactism is not some special gift; it ought to be the way of life in an increasingly complicated, difficult world. jmswtlk (talk) 20:31, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

"State" versus "state" a problem of capitalisation[edit]

Vsmith In the article Autodidacticism you reverted my edit for capitalisation of the term "State" on the ground that: " this is an encyclopedia article not a legal doc." However, I have wrote most of the article section on architecture 2 or 3 years ago, I have also wrote the paragraph which contains the term "state". It happens that I was conversing on this subject earlier this week. The "State" that I am using in the phrase is the one defined in legal terms. The restriction applied on autodidact architects is contained within legal texts, in legislation. I understand that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, however, it does not prevent us to use legal terms when necessary. I feel that your revert is unfounded. I do not want to engage in an edit war on this matter, but you should be thinking twice prior to revert someone's edit and you should at least come up with a valid reason for doing so or engage on the talk page first... --Christophe Krief (talk) 10:55, 20 July 2013 (UTC)--Christophe Krief (talk) 10:46, 20 July 2013 (UTC)

Changed "state" to political state for clarity, although perhaps sovereign state would be a better link? It seems that just capitalizing it without clarifying would go against WP:MOSCAPS. I've also decapped some other words and requested more sources. Vsmith (talk) 12:14, 20 July 2013 (UTC)

For a good laugh, read...[edit]

On the television show Criminal Minds (2005–present), Supervisory Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid is an autodidact with an eidetic memory, meaning that he can remember and easily recall almost everything he sees (this, however, only applies to visual information). He holds doctoral degrees in mathematics, chemistry, and engineering. He also holds bachelor degrees in sociology and psychology, and is working on completing another in philosophy. He is known on the show for being a genius; he has an IQ of 187 and is certainly the smartest member of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit stationed at Quantico, Virginia. Most of his autodidacticism comes from reading books, which he prefers over traditional forms of education, including schooling. He reads at a rate of 20,000 words per minute. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:54, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

I came here to use that same passage...[edit]

to illustrate what a joke this article is. Half of it's on architects. It's a mishmash of miscellaneous junk. EEng (talk) 16:14, 13 July 2014 (UTC)

I can't help but notice that the heading is Autodidacticism in history, philosophy, literature and tv (sic). It takes a special form of inadequacy to spell TV wrong. (talk) 19:21, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

US bias[edit]

As usual, a ridiculous level of US bias. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:15, 23 May 2014 (UTC)

dead link of ref #2 Natural Learning in Higher Education[edit]

I found this version of the J. Scott Armstrong paper "Natural Learning in Higher Education": but I'm not experienced with the ref template. So thanks in advance for updating. --Uncopy (talk) 11:02, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

I've put it in. Thanks, Uncopy, for the archive link. Me, Myself & I (talk) 03:57, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
Wow, thanks a lot :-) --Uncopy (talk) 13:10, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
    • ^ Natuurwetenschap & Techniek, december 2009