Taking many classes throughout my life, I’ve realized I’ve had a misconception about education. Taking a class does not help you become smarter (possible exceptions for people with photographic memories).
Becoming smarter happens, for me, by good study. Classes do not cause good study. Good study is caused by the following condition: motivation to study. What causes the motivation, though? Something must peek my interest in order to make a topic valuable enough for me to notice that I need the knowledge. To summarize, study usually happens when I need to know something.
I’ve been doing a lot of work on my house lately. My wife and I bought a foreclosed house. This generated a lot of work in order to have a habitat for healthy family. As a result I’ve been having to study how certain jobs are performed in order to actually work those jobs in . The desire to a nice, cozy home has provided the motivation required, not only to work on the house, but to study in order to do things right. If I’m going to do anything, I want to do it the right way. There are downsides to this line of thought: things get done very slowly. I usually work more slowly than other people because I want to be sure things are right (to the best of my ability) before moving on.
Getting back to the topic at hand, I’d much rather do personal, independent study than “take a class.” Many times I lose motivation for learning when I’m in a classroom. Usually it’s because of the way the class is ran. Classes have a tendency to not provide a good reasons why learning [insert topic here] is important. These kinds of classes are useful in pointing the learner to the information needed, not helping the learner absorb why they need the information. Sometimes there are “stories” or “case studies” that try to help the learner’s typecast themselves into the situation. Attempting to solve those types of problems generally does not provide motivation. Taking human nature into account, motivation for me is provided when I get some kind of reward or pleasure from solving a problem, getting work done, etc.