What follows is a short story about, and an explanation of, my learning philosophy.
At the bottom are ten lessons I've drawn from my experiences as a student of learning, and as a teacher of students.
In high school, like Mark Twain, I “never let my school interfere with my education.”
I was an average-at-best student–one of the “if he only applied himself” crowd. I much preferred to read the Physics of Star Trek or the Mismeasure of Man or some other book that I chose.
Looking back, this was because:
1.) I learned differently than other students
2.) and I lacked the confidence to ask questions.
At home, I could look up a term I didn't know. But in class, you had to raise your hand. Scary! (I've since come a long way.)
At school one day, they handed out a sample college course catalog. Flipping through it, I saw I could take an Early American Literature, Quantum Physics, or Human Evolution class. But I had to get into college first!
This meant doing well on my SATs. I went to a couple test prep classes, but immediately knew they were not for me. It was just like my other classes–I sat there, passive.
So, instead, I bought some books and taught myself. Everything began to click. I realized I knew myself and my brain better than anyone else, so if I combined that knowledge with serious discipline, I could teach myself anything.
I later taught and tutored the SAT and LSAT for a large test prep company, and realized I wasn't the only one who learned differently. Mostly everyone learned differently. The test prep company geared themselves towards the 40% of students whose learning style they could predict, leaving 60% out to dry.
I left that company and began tutoring the SAT and LSAT (and later the Bar Exam) on my own. Many students were mindful of how they learned, but lacked the skills to apply it. I individualized their lesson plans, and over the course of a few weeks or months, they learned how to self-study. They saved a lot of money, and they learned valuable lessons before college, law school, or legal practice.