An Autodidact is Social
Seems like a contradiction in terms, but autodidacts are social; we have to be. When I learn from the web, I access websites, support people, books, friends, and the wonderfully generous denizens of the web. I’ve spent much time over the last couple of weeks trying to get on top of creating the website I want, one that looks competent and meaningful. (I believe, as I repeatedly say, that we start reading before we decode a single word. We get an impression of the page or screen and our attitude hinders or helps us understand what is in front of us. So I want a site that appears knowledgeable.) To create the site I want I have,
- searched for information on Google, using different queries;
- complained on Twitter (and elicited help);
- phoned a generous web-friend and accepted his help;
- bought and read parts of books;
- downloaded and read parts of pdfs;
- talked to knowledgeable friends;
- tried out all kinds of WSIWYG solutions, both offered by friends and found through Google;
- finally circled around to deciding on either (decisions are hard for me ;-> ) KompoZer or WordPress.org both of which I’ve been learning piecemeal over a number of years;
- settled in to create the site I want on my domain;
- read up on FTP through Google and on my domain host’s Support pages;
- sorted out, with phone help from my domain host’s Support, NetFirms, how to use FileZilla;
- re-installed the use of WordPress, which I had deleted in a fit of frustration and pique, with the help of NetFirm’s phone Support;
- choose a free wp template, Titan, (brother of the theme I’m using in this, my wp.com blog) and decided I would need their Support, and to pay for it because they have to make a living;
- decided to follow Jestro on Twitter for information and quick requests for support;
- Spent all day trying to follow a tutorial on how to access Titan’s CSS, gave up and added my problem to the Jestro Pro forum and went to supper. (I had done similar CSS work with help from Dave Ferguson on my wp.com blog so I knew it was possible.);
- Got back from supper to find the answer already on the Jestro Support Forum (and an explanation that the tutorial could have been clearer);
- made some changes I feel good about, but also discovered that my learning will be continuing! ;->
All of those were interactions with people or the communications created and left by people. Even autodidacts are, by necessity, social learners.
I will be accepting the help of other generous people, directly and indirectly, but there are two more important observations I want to make:
- As a teacher, I understand why students get cranky and worse when they are frustrated because they are just not “getting” something they want to learn. It makes me (and I suspect them) feel unintelligent and inadequate, and I, (and I’m sure them) get upset with myself and anyone else I can blame. It must be even more so for those who learn differently than our schools teach. That is why I am revealing my own struggles; learning is only easy when you are, by your own nature, good at learning in certain areas. We ought to be compassionate for our own and others’ struggles to learn in the areas where we don’t have the natural velcro for.
- It is hard to ask for help, even help you have paid for, but you must in order to keep on keeping on (as Gladys Knight advised)! I don’t know if it’s a societally developed fear of loss of face or an inherent fear of showing weakness, but I find it difficult to ask for help. I think others do too.
So that’s my current learning struggle, which I will continue on with, after I get some work that I’m good at 🙂 done.