The Danger of Formalized Learning

Why are classes and books such popular educational tools?

Because a well-organized curriculum delivered by an expert is a great way to learn. Students can focus on understanding what’s in front of them, and not worry about anything else.

The problem? Classes and books tends to deliver the same experience to learners, but not all learners are the same. Everyone has different knowledge gaps and preferences for how to close them.

Which means: it’s up to each student to supplement what’s being taught with the resources needed for her situation.

These days, I’m learning Python primarily through an online class. When I get stuck, I just don’t rely on the class content to get going again. I check out YouTube, or deep dive into books from the library. I ask my coder friends questions. Because I have a special interest in data analysis and visualization, I focus on how Python helps me in that area.

I’m old enough to remember the days when the best way to learn meant seeking and committing to a single formalized curriculum. Now, with the number of educational resources within reach for any given subject, you don’t have to choose just one. And you probably shouldn’t.