Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Word for the Day

I just discovered a new word that I'm surprised I had never before encountered. I've adopted it for use when people ask me about myself.

"Did you know I'm an autodidact?"

"I messed up because I'm an autodidact."

Autodidact means a self-taught person.

I was asked recently by one of the lead programmers if I preferred to attend training classes or learn by reading a manual. It was an easy answer. I hate computer training classes and I've always taught myself what I need to know by sitting down with the computer and the manual and proceeding to work my way through it page by page. At the end of the process, I pretty much know what I need to know and I didn't have to listen to 35 other students try to steer the teacher into their own personal customized tutoring session.

I taught myself how to be functional in all my hobbies. I devoured how-to books on genealogy in my early days and just recently realized that I had reached a point where the new books on the market have very little to offer me. I've been there and done that time and time again. I no longer snatch up every genealogy how-to book and now concentrate on keeping track of the newest databases to come online by keeping an eagle eye on magazines and blogs.

My 8th grade home economics teacher taught me how to knit and purl and single crochet. I taught myself how to cable, increase, decrease and knit short rows by getting myself a good instruction book and making sampler blocks. Years after I turned myself into an intermediate knitter, I tackled crochet. I can't say that I will ever be an accomplished crocheter, but at least I can pull off a half-double crochet with a bit of flair. (I will always prefer knitting to crochet and, contrary to popular belief, crochet is not easier than knitting. You just have one less needle to lose and a dropped stitch in crochet doesn't create quite as much havoc as a stitch dropped in knitting.)

There was a time in my life when I had more disposable time (how I miss that luxury) and would periodically teach myself something new - just for fun. It's how I learned the elements of canning preserves. (I should have asked for lessons from my grandmother - my preserves left a lot to be desired. She was a pro.) My learning how to spin was a combination of a weekend workshop and then working on my own to expand my knowledge of the different fibers. (I like knowing how it's done, but I quickly decided I would rather just go buy some yarn.)

Over the years there have been many areas where I have enthusiastically embraced the concept of learning everything there is to know about some odd area, spending weeks reading about it and then deciding in the end whether it was something I wanted to continue doing or pitch on the reject pile. The reject pile was quite large. I found I did not care for tatting, latch-hook, needlepoint or embroidery (I can take it or leave it), sewing, or jewelry making. There are some things I like occasionally - like molly-coddling African violets and orchids and planting a crop of tomatoes and peppers. (I love the process of planting a garden and harvesting. I hate the in-between parts like weeding and dealing with insects, so my gardening is decidedly hit or miss.)

I think I love the research process itself. The knowledge is great to have at the end, but I think it's the digging deep for the answers that really drives me.

I really should have been a librarian. I truly missed my calling.

Of course, you could look at this as more evidence of my compulsive collecting. I like to collect information. Hmm.

LSW (I suffer from autodidacticism.)

1 comment:

MiniKat said...

Huh. I was unaware of that word's existence. Thank you for the lesson. In fact "autodidact" describes me fairly well too. :-)