What can one dummy tell another about self-learning?

Oct 2007
What can one dummy tell another about self-learning?

I often face the frustration of responders who find them selves confused by my words. This has led me to post my OP "Knowledge is a puzzle" (which I copy and place at the end of this OP)

I constantly study books written by authors who hold a critical view of the existing social status quo. The books I study are the books I write about and these essays are the ones I post. Thus my OPs are constantly contrary to the status quo world views. My OPs are essays that do not generally fit the puzzles that readers have been working on all their lives.

Thus when I throw a piece on the reader’s table it will almost never fit any of her puzzles. The reader who decides to respond generally does so after modifying the piece so that it will fit the puzzle that is familiar. The response the reader makes is then about the fragment of knowledge that has been sliced and diced to fit the wrong puzzle.

When I start reading a new author I am constantly facing total confusion as to what the author is saying. However, I do this so often that I have learned not to be frustrated because I know that if I just keep plodding along I will sooner or later begin to comprehend what the author is driving at. Of course, I can trust the author because I only choose the best that is around (or at least one that receives praise from many) whereas the reader of my essays does not have that comfort.

I discovered that few people know how to go about the process of learning a new domain of knowledge. When they are given a fragment of knowledge that does not fit into their puzzles that they have been working on all their life they do not know how to start a new puzzle. They had teachers to help them start new puzzles but they never learned how to start one of their own. Instead, they take the fragment of new knowledge and either tosses it out the window or they cut it up to fit their present puzzles.

What is needed, I think, is for young people to learn how to start new puzzles. Your teachers will never teach you how to do this, you must learn that your self or remain ignorant of new domains of knowledge the rest of your life. The reason many find my posts to be incomprehensible is because I am presenting a bit of knowledge that does not fit the puzzles that our teachers taught us.


Most everyone has played with jigsaw puzzles and recognize how we put such puzzles together. When we start a new puzzle the first thing we do is construct the frame. We gather all the pieces with one straight edge and slowly construct the outer perimeter of the puzzle.

Such is the case when we organize knowledge. When we begin to learn a new domain of knowledge in school our teachers help us set up the frame. They hold our hands while we construct the outside boundary and slowly fill in the image by adding new facts.

After we leave school if we want to become a self-learner and to become knowledgeable of new domains we will follow this same procedure but with a significant difference. We will have no teacher to supply us with the pieces of the puzzle. Especially difficult will be gathering the appropriate side pieces so that we can frame our domain. After this we might very well have to imagine the image of the puzzle because we will not have a teacher to help us ‘see’ what the domain ‘looks like’.

When we become a self-learner we will often find pieces of knowledge that do not fit our already constructed frames, when this happens we have two choices. We can throw away the new fragment of knowledge or we can start a journey of discovery in an effort to organize the construction of a new domain. The odd piece of knowledge is either trashed or we must begin a big effort to start construction on a new big puzzle.

I think that knowledge is easily acquired when that knowledge fits easily within one’s accepted ideologies. If we have a ready place to put a new fragment of knowledge we can easily find a place to fit it in. When the knowledge does not fit within our already functioning ideas that fact will be discarded unless a great deal of effort is made to find a home for that fragment of knowledge.

We are unable to move beyond our ideologies unless we exert great effort. No one can give us that type of knowledge; we must go out of our way to stalk it, wrestle it to the ground and then find other pieces that will complete a frame. That is why our schools do not try to take us beyond our narrow world because it is too costly in time and effort. Our schools prepare us to be good workers and strong consumers, anything beyond that we must capture on our own.

No one can give us that kind of knowledge. It can only be presented as an awakening of consciousness and then we can, if we have the energy and curiosity go and capture the knowledge of something totally new and start a new puzzle.