Ultralearning is the concept of “deep, aggressive self-education,” according to author Scott Young. It is the idea that it is possible to learn far more, more quickly, through a self-designed program than it is in a formal educational program. Young is making his point, over and over again, by creating and documenting his own ultralearning projects. It’s a form of stunt journalism. This book is a comprehensive manual for learning how to ultralearn.
Probably what is most interesting about ultralearning, besides the fact that it is going to turn education and professional credentials permanently upside down, is that it can be applied to any project. One of the steps is to figure out your own curriculum. That could obviously be applied to any subject from automotive repair to applying false eyelashes (which actually sounds more complicated to me).
Young includes examples from other ultralearners, to give a sense of the scope and power of this process. Roger Craig built an ultralearning project and won $77,000 on the game show Jeopardy!. Eric Barone learned to code and created a video game called Stardew Valley that sold over three million copies. Young himself completed his own MIT Challenge, launching a series of ultralearning projects that may never end!
There is a debate surrounding ultralearning, namely whether a self-study project can actually get you anywhere in the “real world.” Ahem. The inside of your own mind is a part of the real world and always will be. Education matters even if nobody but you ever finds out about it. Ultralearning includes examples of individuals who used ultralearning projects to earn university degrees, pass exams, get promotions, earn official language learning certificates, and attain other credentials. It is certainly not limited to the autodidact.
This is why ultralearning is about to change everything.
Employers are constantly complaining that they can’t find qualified employees, partly because they now expect to hire everyone pre-trained, when 50 years ago more than 90% of training was done on the job. At the same time, almost nobody can afford vocational training, much less a full university education or post-graduate work. The system is failing everyone and driving over a trillion dollars in debt. For what?
Ultralearning is a chance for someone like me, from a blue-collar family, to rise up and outcompete a complacent kid from an upper-middle-class background. Almost nothing beats grit. Grit combined with internet access and the strategies and methodology of ultralearning, that’s what will change the world.
Being an ultralearner doesn’t imply that everything one learns has to be done in the most aggressive and dramatic fashion possible.
You know when you’re procrastinating, so just get started.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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