“Self education is, I believe, the only education there is.” – Isaac Asimov
I know, I know, SDL sounds like some sort of nasty infection you should see a doctor about, right? Well, in fact, it’s pretty common, although some people do consult experts on the topic. You may not even realize that you yourself engage in a bit of SDL now and again, or perhaps more often than that. Some people seek out SDL on a daily basis, do it in groups, and even brag about it!
So what exactly is SDL? It’s actually Self-Directed Learning, that is, choosing to learn something new on your own, with no teachers, classrooms or final exams. It should take more than seven hours of your time, not necessarily attempted just for fun, and end up making some sort of significant difference in your life.
I personally prefer SDL experiences that involve fiber of some sort – knitting primarily, with the occasional side trip into embroidery, crocheting, sewing, and, most recently, spinning. On the more scientific side, I have an abiding interest in physics. Not a whole lot of understanding, mind you, but a great deal of interest. I’ve certainly spent more than seven hours on all of these subjects, not all of them fun by any means, but I can say that all of these SDL experiences have had a lasting impact on me, and changed my view of the world, from the pride I feel at wearing something hand-knit to an abiding sense of satisfaction about knowing where Schrodinger keeps his cat.
SDL projects and the public library are natural partners. If there’s a subject you want to learn about in depth, odds are you can find information at the library. The hugely successful For Dummies series makes an excellent jumping off point for an SDL project. I’ve used the For Dummies books to learn more about jazz, Canadian history and religion, and there are literally hundreds more in the series on almost any subject imaginable.
Achieving and maintaining good health is a lifelong project, and learning more about how to manage a health issue, or take preventative measures before something happens is a vital SDL issue. The library has a wide range of the latest books on prevention and treatment of many health issues, both in print and e-books, as well as links to the latest in health information.
Learning a new language is another SDL project a lot of people like to try, and it can certainly impact your life in many ways. Whether you want to be able to ask directions in Spain, understand the waiter as he lists the daily specials at a café in France, or improve your English, borrowing language learning kits from the library is an excellent way to listen, read, and learn a new language. If learning online is more to your taste, check out Mango, the language learning database found on the Winnipeg Public library’s website.
Some people like to share their SDL projects with others. If that’s your preference, the library offers the opportunity to talk with and learn from people who share a common interest in subjects like cooking, writing or knitting. Take a look at the Library Event Calendar for an opportunity to have a group SDL experience.
So, the next time you think about SDL, don’t call the doctor, go to WPL!