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Love of Learning

Is high-quality self-education possible?

By IRYNA PALTSEVA - March 16 2023

By Iryna Paltseva

Over the past 200 hundred years, the world has changed so dramatically that the human brain can sometimes not comprehend it. Changes, not in any specific order, have included the Internet, the light bulb, antibiotics, the television, the cellphone and the discovery of DNA.

Many people however, still use their childhood habits when it comes to learning. They might still watch a television show instead of going to YouTube, and they might still physically go to the Public Library to read a dusty book or they might still use a pen to write a letter instead of sending a text or email.

The developments in technology, during the last 10 years specifically, has created a whole new set of occupations and a whole new type of specialist. Along with these career changes, the approach to learning and education has changed.  

In the past, adult learners would sit passively in a traditional classroom format with a teacher or University professor commanding everyone from the front of the room with informative but sometimes dull lectures.  Grades were often secured through structured timed exams without any group interaction, chat rooms or self-directed learning to a Wikipedia page. 

Digital technology has changed not only teaching methods and learning styles, but also how and where an adult learner can be educated.  In the past, international students in Canada would have to fly across the globe, to spend years at an expensive college. Now an international student who lives outside of Canada can join a Toronto classroom if they are aware of the time differences of their classes, and still don’t mind paying international tuition fees.

However, whether an international student or a Canadian-born student, everyone can enjoy learning by accessing the many free online learning sites that are available through sites such as coursera or LinkedIn Learning.  For example, Harvard, Cambridge, MIT, the University of Toronto, and other educational institutions offer excellent free, and sometimes fee-based, online courses.  Knowledge has indeed ceased to be something that is privileged. Technology has allowed accessibility to anyone with a laptop, a connection to the internet, advanced English abilities and the willingness to learn.

 The question is, if learning is now so much more accessible, then why aren’t the streets of Toronto filled with self-taught millionaires? 

The answer might be that people can still be slaves to their traditional habits. Adapting to technology and learning independently are not learning styles that everyone can manage or want to manage. Also, many occupations in Canada are regulated which means requiring a serious set of degrees and credentials that can take many years to acquire. Canada is crying for Registered Nurses but this occupation requires a 4-year University Degree.

However, the good news for many people is that not all occupations are regulated. An example of this is the field of Information Technology. This is a career that adjusts to the needs of society, and if IT Professionals keep their skills current they can find employment.  The magic words are “keeping current”.  IT does have an expiry date and what you learn one year can be outdated in 4 years. Many self-taught people have appeared in the IT sector recently and within a few years can make a reasonable wage, however they will need to keep their knowledge current and up-to-date.

In summary, self-education really can work for some people, and it can open doors for many who do not want to study regulated occupations. Yet it is not a panacea or solution for everyone. Not everyone can organize themselves to master a profession without additional motivation such as specific grades, a teacher to keep them on track, or opportunities for self-achievement through scholarships. However, for the person who does not want to go into educational debt, self-education might be an ideal solution.

The stories of many self-educated people prove that successful self-learning is possible! Of course, this does not apply to all sectors. It is impossible to become a lawyer, doctor or teacher without studying at a University. Yet, if you are thinking of changing careers and dream of learning, start 2023 by Googling “free online courses in Toronto” and you might surprise yourself. If you love to learn, you can learn by taking the first steps into the exciting world of self-education.

This article was written by Iryna Paltseva. She is a Ukrainian Freelance Writer who relocated to Canada under the CUET Visa (Canadian-Ukrainian Authorization for Emergency Travel). Iryna is re-establishing her writing career and you can contact her at: 

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