How to Give Yourself a Good Education if You are an Intelligent Poor Person
Although, nearly every American has access to a public school education, the quality of that education can vary widely from place to place. Most public schools in wealthy areas are excellent and often as good as or better than the best private schools. However, in poor neighborhoods, the quality of education is often terrible and the daily hardships and dangers endured by people who live in poor neighborhoods, make getting an education even more challenging.
Because of the state of our public schools in poor neighborhoods and the mistrust and contempt that poor and poorly educated people have towards education, an intelligent person who finds themself living in this kind of environment may feel that all routes to bettering themselves and improving their mind have been barred.
I hope that, through this simple how to, I can communicate to people who dream of escaping their bad economic situation and dream of quenching their thirst for knowledge that they are not alone and, if they have the determination, they can pull themselves up through self-directed education independent of public school.
However, this how to is not just for school aged people, it is for any intelligent person who wants to improve their lives through the accumulation of knowledge. Anyone can do this if they have the determination and intelligence to do it.
Finally, before we continue with this how to, I want readers who are still in school to understand that I am not in any way encouraging you to quit school. It is very important that you continue going to school and follow these self-education instructions on your own time. It is very important for you to graduate from school. If you are poor and/or if you are a person of color, you are already at a disadvantage in life. Do not compound this disadvantage by quitting school. This how to is about increasing your advantages in life and making your life better.
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Things You'll Need:
- Library Card and membership in good standing with your local library.
- Some money to buy a few important books (see book list below)
- The determination to improve your life.
Prepare yourself for a difficult but infinitely rewarding journey:
* You are making a big decision by choosing to educate yourself or to supplement your public school education on your own time. This will require you to make major changes in your life.
* You will have to make educating yourself your highest priority: more important than friends, more important than your social life, more important than television or hanging out. I'm not saying you shouldn't have friends or a social life, but with everything you do you should ask yourself: "Do I really need to be doing this? Could I be reading or studying right now?" Obviously, everyone needs to have fun, but when you take on a project like this, you have to understand that your social life will have to be curtailed.
If your friends are understanding and supportive, then you should be able to tell them what you're trying to do and why you can't spend as much time with them as you used to. If they're good friends, they will understand, and if they don't understand or won't support you, then maybe they weren't friends worth having anyway.
* If you have friends or family who will support you in your effort to educate yourself, you should seek their support. However, if you live in an abusive environment where your family won't support you (or even mocks or thwarts your efforts to educate yourself), then you need to find the inner strength to support yourself. Don't ever let other people stop you from bettering yourself.
* Understand that, even if you have support from friends or loved ones, you still have to believe in yourself. Only you can do this and only you can believe in yourself enough to do this no matter how much or how little support you may have--in the end, it all comes down to you.
* If your home or neighborhood is not a good place for you to learn or study, then go someplace where you can learn in peace--like a library, or a coffeshop, or a park. Again, don't ever let other people stop you from bettering yourself.
* If you are still in school: pay attention, follow teacher directions, do your homework, strive to get good grades, and stay out of trouble.
Managing Your Time and Organizing Your Life:
Get a cheap date book or calendar, or simply use a sheet of paper and a pen to make a weekly schedule and to do list of your self-education efforts. Include other activities, like work, dates with friends and family, and other appointments and attempt to make your life more organized. Being organized is key to keeping motivated and meeting your goals.
Organize your day around your self-education. Most of your self-education will involve reading and writing, so choose set times for yourself to read and write (and do your homework if you are still in school) everyday (including weekends). If you are in school, you should attempt to get in at least 1 to 2 hours of self-education in everyday (in addition to your homework), if you are not in school, you should devote at least 4 hours or more to self-education each day.
For further information about personal time management see these sites:
Change How You Think About Yourself, Knowledge, Education, and the World:
* This isn't about learning skills to make money.
If you look at self-education and bettering your life as little more than a means to make money, you may set yourself up for disappointment and you will also impoverish your learning experience.
Understand that the pursuit and attainment of knowledge is a reward in itself. If you have a love of knowledge, you will succeed financially, because an intelligent, educated, confident, and competent person will always be employable. If you need specific skills for a specific job, learn them! But don't let learning those skills be the beginning and end of your self-education.
* Don't be afraid of not knowing something.
If you don't know something then learn about it--it's as simple as that. Don't feel bad--and don't let others make you feel bad--about not knowing something. Ignorance has the simplest cure in the world: education.
* Don't be afraid of being wrong.
If you've made a mistake, welcome to the club--everyone makes mistakes. If you took a chance and made a guess and it was wrong, don't worry about it, find out the right answer and keep moving forward--and pat yourself on the back for having the courage to take a chance.
* Always rely on yourself first to find the answer for something, and if you can't find the answer, then ask someone that you think might know.
Don't know a word? Look it up in the dictionary. Don't know the answer to a question? See if you can find the answer yourself first, then ask someone that you think might know. Turning to yourself for answers first builds habits of self-reliance and self-direction--essential qualities for a self-educator.
* Form your own opinions and don't be afraid to express and defend them.
An intelligent and educated person doesn't just shovel knowledge into their head, they think about what they've learned and make judgments and form opinions. And when an educated person forms opinions, they are not afraid to express them and defend them against criticism. However, if the evidence shows that you are wrong, don't be afraid to admit it.
* Always follow the facts, always follow the evidence, even if it might make you uncomfortable.
As you educate yourself you may encounter knowledge that challenges your beliefs. Don't be afraid to have your beliefs challenged and don't be afraid to abandon a belief if the evidence shows it to be wrong.
Foster Good Habits for Self-Education
Be open minded and open to new experiences. Don't be quick to judge other people's behavior or appearance. Be tolerant and make an honest effort to understand why people you might criticize think, act, or dress the way they do before you form an opinion.
Make a point to go places where you haven't gone before and explore. If you ever have an opportunity to travel, take it.
Make a point to expose yourself to unfamilliar things. Go to museums and seek out free musical and theater performances in your area. Expose yourself to music and culture that you may not be familiar (or even comfortable) with.
Always test yourself. If a subject makes you uncomfortable, don't turn away or avoid it, learn more about it. Face your fears and the things that make you uncomfortable and use them as more opportunities to learn.
Meet new people who don't act or think like people you typically interact with in your family or your community. Get to know them and understand them. Make a point to meet new and interesting people wherever you go.
Write down your thoughts about what you experience and what you've learned. Make writing a habit. Buy notebooks and pens and write as often as you can. Most importantly, after you've read a book, write down your thoughts about it in the form of a book report. Do this for every book you read--it will help you retain what you've learned from the book and it will also help you to learn how to think and develop your own opinions.
The Key to a Quality Self-Education is Mastery of the English Language
Reading, speaking, writing, and typing correctly, elegantly, and creatively in the English language is the key to every other aspect of your self-education. Bringing your vocabulary, reading comprehension, reading ability, and writing ability up to a college level is essential to being a success in any other subject you might choose to study. In light of this information, the books I suggest that you buy in step 7 might make more sense to you.
Your Public Library Card is the Key to Self-Education:
Your local public library will soon become your second home if hasn't already. Using your public library is the only way you can feasibly educate yourself with little or no money. The following eHow guides will help you learn more about your local library and how to obtain a library card if you don't already have one.
How to Get a Library Card
How to Take Advantage of Public Library Services
How to Do Research in the Library
Books you need to buy:
These books are, in this writer's opinion, the essential books that you need to own to properly educate yourself. You really should own these books and not just borrow them from the library because you will constantly consult them. I have listed the typical retail price for a new copy of each of these books, but if you search on the web, you are certain to find these books at a much lower price. Also, you don't need to buy these books new. Used versions of most of these books should be available at a used bookstore in your area, you can also find great deals on used books online at sites like http://www.abebooks.com/
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
Cost new: $23.95
The Elements of Style
by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
Cost new: $3.90
Essential English Grammar
by Philip Gucker
Cost new: $5.95
All the Math You'll Ever Need: A Self-Teaching Guide
by Steve Slavin
Cost new: $16.95
An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn't
by Judy Jones and William Wilson
Cost new: $35
Recommended Reading by Subject (borrow or order from your local library)
Here are a few book suggestions and links to reading lists for people who are seeking to educate themselves, print out and save the lists you want to use.
Please note: these lists of books are merely to get you started, from these lists you should seek out other related books that will further expand your knowledge. A good place to look for additional books to read would be in the bibliography section of the books found in these lists or other books that are specifically mentioned in the text of these books. For all online texts, I recommend that you print them out for easier reading and for keeping them for reference.
How to think and evaluate information:
A Practical Guide to Critical Thinking
by Greg R. Haskins
Introduction to the Scientific Method
by Brooke Noel Moore and Richard Parker
Don't Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking
by Thomas Kida
Books for People Educating Themselves:
Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want
by Barbara Sher and Annie Gottlieb
by Ronald Gross
Literature reading list:
Science reading list:
Mythology and Folklore reading list:
Recommended online self-education resources:
Read books and documents from the Library of Congress for free
Project Gutenberg is a free online library of literature from around the world
MIT OpenCourseWare - a collection of complete MIT college courses (including complete lectures and reading lists available for free online)
Free online college courses from Carnegie Mellon University
Free Online College Courses from University of Washington
Free College Health Courses from Johns Hopkins Univeristy
Learn Economics for free at the University of Nebraska website
Learn languages for free:
French Language Video Course:
Spanish Language Video Course:
German Language Video Course
Free CPR Course from University of Washington
Learn Sign Language from Michigan State University
Even more free online education resources available here:
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