Self-teaching is a self-directed learning approach where individuals independently identify, plan, and pursue their learning objectives. This process requires critical thinking, strategic planning, active learning, regular self-evaluation, and effective time management.

Understanding the Concept

  • Recognizing Self-Teaching as a Life-Long Process: Understand that self-teaching isn’t necessarily about mastering a particular subject in a short time, but about developing skills and attitudes that help you learn and adapt throughout life.
  • Self-Motivation: Without a teacher or external schedule to keep you accountable, you’ll need to be motivated and driven from within. Recognizing your personal “why” can help fuel this motivation.


  • Identifying Your Learning Goals: Start by clearly defining what you want to learn. These can be broad or specific, but they should provide a direction for your studies.
  • Prioritizing Learning Objectives: Based on your goals, identify key objectives that will help you reach them. Prioritize these objectives based on their relevance and your interest.
  • Structuring Your Learning: Plan how you will approach your learning journey. This might involve creating a study schedule, setting milestones, and choosing your learning resources.

Developing Effective Learning Strategies

  • Active Learning: This involves actively engaging with the material, such as through practice problems, summarizing information in your own words, or teaching the concept to someone else.
  • Different Learning Methods: Understand that there are various ways to learn, and what works best can vary from person to person or from subject to subject. This includes reading, watching videos, taking online courses, or engaging in hands-on projects.
  • Scheduling and Time Management: Without the structure of a traditional course, it’s crucial to manage your time effectively. This includes setting aside dedicated study time, taking regular breaks to avoid burnout, and maintaining a balance between learning and other aspects of your life.

Implementing Your Learning

  • Monitoring Progress: Keep track of your learning progress regularly. This could be through self-testing, reflecting on your understanding of the subject, or applying what you’ve learned in practical ways.
  • Overcoming Challenges: Self-teaching can be challenging, and it’s normal to encounter obstacles. Whether it’s a difficult topic or a lack of motivation, it’s important to develop strategies to overcome these hurdles.
  • Seeking Help When Needed: Even when self-teaching, you don’t have to do everything on your own. If you’re stuck, don’t hesitate to seek help, whether from books, online forums, or individuals who know the subject.

Reflecting and Adapting

  • Continuous Evaluation: Regularly assess your progress towards your goals and adjust your approach if necessary. Remember that the aim is not to complete a curriculum, but to understand and apply your knowledge.
  • Learning from Mistakes: Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. Rather than viewing them as failures, see them as opportunities to learn and improve.
  • Maintaining a Growth Mindset: Cultivate the belief that your abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. This mindset encourages a love of learning and resilience in the face of challenges.

Relationship to Agency

Self-teaching and agency are intimately related, as both involve taking initiative and responsibility for one’s own actions and learning. Agency refers to the ability of individuals to act independently, make their own free choices, and control their own life. In the context of learning, it implies a proactive approach where learners are actively involved in determining their learning objectives, choosing resources, and assessing their progress. Similarly, self-teaching is about taking control of one’s own learning process. It requires the ability to set goals, seek out information, understand and apply knowledge independently. Thus, self-teaching can be seen as a practical manifestation of agency in the realm of learning and personal development. It enables individuals to shape their own educational journeys, reflecting their interests, needs, and aspirations.