Can I be self-taught?

Self-taught: self-study to success

There are different ways of acquiring knowledge. The comparatively most convenient is the frontal teaching in the school: the teacher speaks, the students listen. A Autodidact however, it becomes active itself. Some children taught themselves to read before school. Just like that, out of interest. Self-study may not be a natural thing for everyone. But through the "nudge" during the school career everyone gets the basic framework and the necessary tools to continue from there. How it works…

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Self-taught definition: what is it?

Self-taught derives from ancient Greek cars = self and didas none = teach off and denotes a person who has knowledge and skills independently developed.

This is done by observing, imitating, reading, researching and refining. This self-study is differentiated from university studies because neither formal requirements are required, nor is it structured in any regular way.

Only the drive of the self-taught decides to what extent and at what pace certain skills are acquired. Before the modern age, everyone was self-taught to some extent. Apart from the guild system and university studies, there was no institutionalized education, as is the case nowadays with the dual training system.

If the father was a farmer, then (at least the oldest) son also became a farmer - free choice of profession as we know it today has existed in isolated cases in Germany since the 19th century. However, poor families in particular could often not afford to send their children to school, otherwise they would receive the There was a lack of manpower.

Compulsory schooling for the whole of Germany has only existed since the end of the First World War. Previously, depending on the German country, there were also corresponding provisions, but de facto they could not be enforced due to a lack of controls. Disadvantages were both class as well as gender specific:

For the rural population, but also for women, this handling of compulsory schooling meant: If there is interest in something, it has to be self-taught become.

Are autodidacts smarter?

One question that divides minds is that of intelligence. Are Autodidacts Really Smarter? In a way, it's about the chicken and the egg. Because reading educates, no question about it. But there are also some additional requirements.

Presumably it was Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz who used the term in the 17th century Autodidact coined. A universal genius himself, he had already taught himself Latin and ancient Greek as an eight-year-old.

After studying philosophy and theology at the university, he studied mathematics and law. Leibniz had both: The good fortune to be born into an educated family that also had the necessary funds decreed to give him a good education. Because there was no compulsory schooling at the time.

On the other hand, there is an enormous thirst for knowledge, which is reflected in the different subjects. It should not be forgotten that knowledge was limited at the time. Many modern inventions and discoveries were still to come.

Besides that it different types of intelligence a self-taught person does not necessarily need a high IQ.

Some people are self-taught because they have a topic important or interesting finds, but can't do anything with the approach. The best example: Many struggle with foreign languages ​​during school hours, but as adults on vacation they can do a lot more with the requirements and use their knowledge in a completely different way.

Being self-taught says something about the method used Access to knowledge out, but not about how smart and successful you are. The question of success ultimately depends on how good you are at what you do and how popular it is. If you teach yourself to knit at the age of four, you will probably be amazed.

But knitting isn't currently nationwide sought abilitywith which you can gain social recognition even in adulthood. Rather, your knowledge, skills and abilities increase with everything you learn.

The knowledge becomes more

Nowadays it is in a completely different degree Knowledge present and availableso that specializations are often necessary.

An example: used to be simply employees Wanted for marketing, the job boards spit out much more specific job titles these days. Then suddenly there is talk of Affiliate Marketing Specialist, from Online Marketing Analyst or from Marketing communication project specialist.

And not only has the sheer amount of knowledge changed, either access. Nowadays it is easier to be self-taught, hardly a household in Germany that does not have an internet connection. Much of the knowledge is freely available. This is both an opportunity and a problem.

Because it exists on the internet no preceding instancethat separates or at least identifies what is relevant from irrelevant, factually incorrect from correct knowledge. Before someone immediately thinks “censorship”: In contrast to self-taught learning, in universities the available material is sorted and the students are taught to recognize certain quality criteria.

That is, scholars, researchers, experts in their field have been around for years earned a reputationso that the teaching staff either provides the learners with the latest material from the outset or indicates when certain sources are out of date.

Special features of autodidactic learning

Autodidactic learning always takes place when someone finds something interesting and teaches themselves, usually in educational institutions is conveyed. Anyone who prefers to learn foreign languages ​​or different musical instruments is self-taught.

The same can of course apply professional level take place: You acquire knowledge of programming languages ​​because you find this field totally exciting. This learning as an autodidact has its good points, but it also has a disadvantage.


  • It is good that you learn something that you can apply in your job. That secures you one Competitive advantage and facilitates certain processes.
  • It is also positive that you have no guidelines whatsoever. you learn self-determinedwhen you feel like it.


  • Depending on how you go about it, the knowledge is less well-founded. Some autodidacts insist on trial and error, who lack a deeper understanding.
  • Even if you have completely penetrated the subject: in the end you will not hold a diploma or certificate about it in your hands. This is exactly what can limit the professional benefits, for example if you have acquired knowledge in an area completely dissimilar to your profession.

Learning autodidactically: Tips for the procedure

If you want to learn autodidactically, you should therefore be aware of the advantages and disadvantages. Depending on how blatant the shortage is in some areas, employers will probably be more willing to forego evidence if that practical knowledge available is.

The future of work is uncertain; The only thing that is clear is that flexibility and the will to continue training are important. In this respect, self-taught people have clear advantages. Those who cannot adapt to different methods are more easily left behind.

In order to be or become self-taught, you need them five skills:

  • show interest

    Curiosity is the mainspring of all autodidacts. You may have had setbacks in one area or another in the past, but fundamentally there is a desire and interest to understand something.

  • Acquire theory

    It is not just about knowing the theoretical basis of a matter, but also knowing, for example, opposing positions from other researchers. This is part of the tools of the trade, especially with humanities topics, as otherwise you will not be able to present any counter-arguments in a discussion and / or defend your position. At the same time, theoretical relining can help refine one's skills by showing easier ways.

  • Find routine

    If you seriously want to acquire something, even as an autodidact you cannot avoid a certain amount of self-discipline. It lays the foundation for the fact that you do not acquire knowledge as strictly as in school, but continuously. A certain routine is helpful for this - for example learning something for an hour on Sundays.

  • Looking for an exchange

    Being self-taught doesn't mean cutting yourself off from everything. Rather, the regular exchange with like-minded people makes it easier to understand certain learning content. At the same time, you not only broaden your horizons, but also create new networks through learning groups.

  • Formulate learning goals

    Set learning goals for yourself by noting when you want to have learned certain content. To do this, you should be able to realistically assess your time and your duties. Ideally, you will work with a study plan to ensure that you have an overview of your tasks as well as your free time.

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