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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 12:40 am 
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It occurred to me recently that there are a lot of subjects I didn't get a chance to learn about in school, for various reasons. It seems that to get a decent understanding of, say, a science subject one would have to start right at the beginning with something like "GCSE" or "O level" (UK) before attempting to actually learn the really important and relevant issues in the topic and to master them at degree or post graduate level.

With limited time and budget, how does one learn anything worthwhile about these subjects if you didn't do them in school? I know the internet and libraries can provide resources and texts but how do you avoid misconceptions without a tutor or a support class?

I've taught students who didn't learn mathematics at school and the gap that has to be bridged is in some cases simply impossible. I have on the other hand taught myself some mathematics from library books - but that was with a fundamental grasp of the rudiments, which I don't have in subjects like Physics or Chemistry.

Without signing up for a taught course, is there a realistic hope of ever learning a subject even to A level standard?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:13 am 
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If you're self teaching, I'd have thought that learning from scratch as such would be too hard in subjects like sciences as most of the time the basics are still massive things to learn!

What I'd probably do is look at the the thing that got me interested in learning more and break it down bit by bit so I could learn about and understand each aspect of it. Then over time you should build up your base knowledge and be able to use that to understand different things.

I guess it's kind if like learning history by looking at us now then working back to see where we came from, rather than starting with cave men and working up to now. Or for me personally that hopefully people can understand is when I was younger and and read the Hobbit and LOTR, really liking them and wanting to find out more. So I read through LOTR again bit this read and referenced with the appendices, read the book of lost tales, then the Silmarillion and other extended works, and all the time picking up bits that then made sense in the 'finished product' of LOTR.

Don't know if that'll help, but that's my two pence worth.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:42 am 
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In regards to science you could start with Bill Bryson's superb book - a short history of nearly everything. It brings you right up to speed with the history of science and a grounding in how things actually work. Bryson manages to work the subject into a readable, understandable and entertaining book. I read it last year and it really improved my science knowledge.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:48 am 
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I think it's this idea that even the basics are actually not all that basic that troubles me. I feel like here are some new things I could pick up very easily but under inspection they're actually not that new to me. For example, If I had to learn a new computer language, I think that would be very easy because I have other computer languages and experience of thinking in a programming way.

If I wanted to learn something like Chemistry, I was so bad at it in school anyway and didn't find it interesting or easy the way it was taught, I think I would only get so far and then really struggle with the really advanced stuff that I want to understand more about.

Then there are things like learning a skill or an art. I can't draw and I don't think I could be taught how to. I think I could be taught how to drive an F1 car but I don't have the financial backing. I could learn a trade like Plumbing or Brickwork but I would want to learn from an expert, not out of a book.

I can learn facts if they're presented to me because I have a memory for those sorts of things - but it's not as good as it was, as proven by some of the posts I place in the F1 threads.

I learned a lot about Architecture by living with an architect for about 7 years but how often are those sorts of opportunities open to people? I'm an almost completely self-taught musician but it's taken me 50 years to get as good as I am and I still feel like there is so much more to learn.

I learned to fly after only 4 weeks training but it wasn't cheap and it was basically all I did for a month.

It seems that without spending time or money or both that I don't have, there's no way of learning academic subjects other than by going back to school or by enrolling on a course.

Maybe I just need to go to a decent bookshop and look at what's on offer?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:15 am 
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Have you looked at MOOCs?

There are many free online courses offered by universities around the world that start off with the basics.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:52 am 
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Youtube.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 10:57 am 
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I often just start with a textbook that a Uni course would recommend for a 1st year class. Most chemistry or chemical engineering textbooks I own start out pretty basic. I much prefer a textbook that comes with effectively tutorial type questions so you can check you've grasped the matter. I guess that's a lot easier in a STEM type book than an arts type subject.

I guess though that even these require some understanding to really grasp. It's hard to judge what level is rudimentary and this probably varies a fair bit.

I've got a lot of free books from this website in the past: http://bookboon.com/en/textbooks-ebooks
The pdfs are free (paid for by having advertising, they are not pirated or anything). If there are subjects on there you are into, maybe you could see if they start at the right level or not?

Is there any particular subject you are looking into or is this just a general thing?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:30 pm 
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Herb wrote:
Have you looked at MOOCs?

There are many free online courses offered by universities around the world that start off with the basics.

I've done a few courses through Coursera and they went quite well.

Now I was only doing stand-alone classes in things like music production and modern poetry not anything like hard science, although they are offered, but there was interaction with both the instructors and other students.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:49 pm 
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Herb wrote:
Have you looked at MOOCs?

There are many free online courses offered by universities around the world that start off with the basics.

I have. I really like the idea, in principle, but I found that I just didn't have time for the level of commitment I needed for the most recent one I tried. I also got the feeling that if I hadn't already been doing the subject for my final year dissertation, I wouldn't have had a clue what they were talking about.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 4:58 pm 
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flyboy10 wrote:
It occurred to me recently that there are a lot of subjects I didn't get a chance to learn about in school, for various reasons. It seems that to get a decent understanding of, say, a science subject one would have to start right at the beginning with something like "GCSE" or "O level" (UK) before attempting to actually learn the really important and relevant issues in the topic and to master them at degree or post graduate level.

With limited time and budget, how does one learn anything worthwhile about these subjects if you didn't do them in school? I know the internet and libraries can provide resources and texts but how do you avoid misconceptions without a tutor or a support class?

I've taught students who didn't learn mathematics at school and the gap that has to be bridged is in some cases simply impossible. I have on the other hand taught myself some mathematics from library books - but that was with a fundamental grasp of the rudiments, which I don't have in subjects like Physics or Chemistry.

Without signing up for a taught course, is there a realistic hope of ever learning a subject even to A level standard?


You will pick up things much faster as an adult as you did as a kid. It all depends on how much work you put in. You could learn GCSE level subjects in 6 months using just a generic GCSE revision guide (less if you dedicate all of your free time to it). They generally have test papers in them so you can test yourself to see if you know it.
It's only past that level where self teaching becomes difficult because the information becomes more abstract and/or a lot more dense in volume.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 5:03 pm 
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Internet research on which books people genuinely recommend, then regular trips to the good old fashioned library.

There's nothing you can't order a book about. You just need to do that little bit of research about which books are thought of as being the most useful.

There's forums on line about everything these days. Find a few on a given topic and ask people for reading advice.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 6:37 pm 
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Could always try and get hold of one of these - might speed things up a bit. :)

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:19 pm 
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A first class postage stamp is going to improve my learning abilities? ;)


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 12:51 pm 
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Asphalt_World wrote:
Internet research on which books people genuinely recommend, then regular trips to the good old fashioned library.

There's nothing you can't order a book about. You just need to do that little bit of research about which books are thought of as being the most useful.

There's forums on line about everything these days. Find a few on a given topic and ask people for reading advice.

:thumbup: I would agree with this, providing you like to read. There are so many books out there on any subject you could pick but some are really hard going & others make the subject really interesting & are easier to understand & read. I am the Registrar for a private college & our registration body has decided in recent years, that to get full registration, everyone must pass the exam they have put together & have provided a reading list to help with this. I have purchased every book that they have recommended so that my interns have all the resources but, even knowing the subject really well, I have read most of the books & have been bored out of my mind with some of them whereas others have been absolutely fascinating :D


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