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Learning for the Sake of Learning

Although learning does have intrinsic value for most people, often we
think of school as a chore to get through in order to get the grand
prize of a degree or some other kind of qualification. But what if
you’re not really that interested in getting a piece of paper? You’re
not alone — many people just want to learn for the sake of learning, and
there are many ways to go about it:

Learning for the Sake of Learning

  • Independent study is the easiest way to learn things, especially now
    that the Internet has made most information available at the touch of a
    button. In fact, many of us engage in independent study on a daily
    basis without even realizing it. For example, how many times have you
    had a question about something simple, and then ended up delving deeper
    and deeper into Wikipedia as you read more articles and became more
    curious about the subject? These days, there are so many reference and
    tutorial sources, both online and in local libraries, that learning what
    you want to know is becoming almost second nature to most of us. With a
    little focus and discipline, you can amass a collection of sources on
    virtually any subject, and use those as your study materials.
  • Online courses are a more customized way to learn a skill or get
    educated on a subject. These days there are online courses for just
    about everything, and some of them are still free, or have a free trial
    period so you can try them without risk. Languages, for example, are
    particularly popular, and no matter what language you would like to
    learn, there will be plenty of places where you can practice with
    others, as well as getting feedback from instructors.
  • If learning from the Internet is not really your thing, many cities
    produce an informative newspaper detailing local courses that are
    available in your area. These courses are often not affiliated with any
    school, but are run independently by local people who want to give
    something back to the community. The courses are usually available for a
    very low cost, or sometimes even completely free. At these informal
    sessions you can learn anything from flower arranging to 17th century
    European history, usually taught by a person who is very knowledgeable
    and passionate about their area of expertise.
  • If you prefer a more structured setting, auditing is a
    process by which some professors will let you sit in on certain
    university and college courses for free, on the understanding that you
    will not have any work or exams graded, nor will you get credit for the
    course. It may seem useless to some people to take a course for which
    you won’t get any acknowledgment for having completed, but if you’re
    just curious and eager to learn, it can be a fantastic, pressure-free
    way to gain knowledge. There is a lot less stress involved in learning
    if you know you are not going to be tested, and you’re a lot more likely
    to retain what you have learned if you have chosen the course yourself,
    rather than it being a required class for a major.

If you are into the idea of educating yourself just for the sake of
it, it is easier now than it has ever been, and the information that’s
out there is likely to become even more readily accessible over time,
with advances in technology. Whether you want to learn to cook, explore
the literature of ancient Greece, or just figure out how to fix things
around the house, there’s bound to be someone in your community or on
the Internet who is already offering that knowledge to anyone who seeks
it. All you have to do is have a little persistence, and you will almost
certainly find what you’re looking for.

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