The Essential Education: If You Had Ten Years to Learn Anything, What Would You Do?

I can remember years ago having a discussion with someone about the purpose of college. I was arguing that university often doesn’t do a good job of preparing young people for the world of work, and my friend was arguing that I was missing the point. College isn’t about economic preparedness, but about educating people for life. Higher education shouldn’t be subjugated to the needs of the capitalist machinery.

I think this is mostly a fantasy. Like it or not, most people go to school for to improve their economic and social standings. High-minded ideals on the virtues of a broad liberal arts education are mostly lip service.

However, this debate got me thinking. Assuming you were to fulfill that high-minded goal of education, how would you do it?

I find it doubtful that the traditional university curriculum would be the best way to do that. Probably the best way wouldn’t involve an institution at all, but be something you undertook on your own.

What Would Be in Your Ideal Ten-Year Self-Education Quest?

So in this I’d like to engage in a speculative fantasy. If you had ten years, with the ability to support yourself on a modest stipend, how would you give yourself the best self-education in the world?

Admittedly, few people could put in ten years full-time, without working to support themselves. In that sense, this is a purely hypothetical exercise. However, I often find it useful to start with an ideal scenario first, and then make compromises to fit reality, than to start by immediately dismissing things out of practical concerns. Even if a ten year full-time self-education journey weren’t possible for most, perhaps it could be stretched through part-time study or sabbaticals over one’s entire lifetime.

Additionally, I’m going to focus on education purely for the sake of learning. The economic merits of skills and knowledge play no role in their importance. This doesn’t mean you can’t learn economically valuable skills, just that there’s no primacy given to learning accounting over art or finance over philosophy just because the former are more economically valuable.

Specialization, is similarly discountable. I want a broad-based education, deep enough to appreciate the richness of a subject, but not to devote every moment to a single skill just to become competitive in it.

Again, this isn’t to say that those motives aren’t important—they certainly are. But rather that it might be fun to imagine what you would learn if they weren’t important.

Think of this as the educational equivalent to the what-would-you-do-with-a-million-dollars speculation we often engage in to think about what are interests would be if we didn’t have to worry about money.

My Ten-Year Education Plan

Given this freedom to speculate, here’s what my ten year allocation of time would be, with explanations:

Side note: Since it’s causing the most confusion, don’t think of the below list as implying that the study of each of these subjects needs to be done sequentially. Many of them could be studied at the same time. Instead, it’s best to read this list as the relative allocation of time, not it’s exact scheduling.

1. Three years lived abroad, in different languages and cultures.

The first thing I’d add is the very thing I find conspicuously absent in most liberal arts educations: living in a different culture. Travel, moreso than reading books, is truly a mind-expander. Especially if that travel is done with the intention of immersing in a culture and not spectating it as a tourist.

In my three-year journey, I’d spend two full years in a stable location to maximize language acquisition and deep experiences. Preferrably one year in Europe and one year in Asia. South America or Africa would also be reasonable substitutes, based on your own level of interest. This could hypothetically be one year in Germany and one year in India, or one year in Spain and one year in Japan.

The third year of living abroad would be shorter stays over more regions. The goal here would be to get the breadth of seeing a lot more places to miss the inevitable gaps that occur from a more concentrated exposure to a specific country.

I wouldn’t do these three years in a row, but spread out over the decade. Long-term travel is one of the most exhausting aspects of self-education and one of the most dependent on enthusiasm to successfully execute. Feeling burned out by new sights is the easiest way to kill an immersive experience.

2. One year of philosophy.

I think the best approach here would be to take a number of survey courses, followed by some deep investigation into a few of the classics. Understanding Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason or Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics is probably a wasted effort if the context is not properly supplied.

Six months covering general courses in metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, philosophy of mind, logic, etc. would be a good basis for selecting which specific works you want to study in more depth.

I would also spend at least a third of the time focusing on non-Western philosophy. This is often missing in a lot of philosophy curricula because the traditions are often not directly comparable. However, studying Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism and other non-Western sources gives a greater sense of how the format of Western philosophy both assisted its development but also constrained it in subtle ways by accepting certain forms of argument but not others.

3. Six months of religion.

This could be seen as extension of philosophy, but it’s important enough that I think it deserves a separate space. One year here could be spent on all the major world religions. Even if you’re an atheist like me, I think this is hugely important because of the incredible force religion has had in shaping cultures and history.

4. Six months on world history.

Following religious studies, I’d spend six months learning world history. Admittedly this section is shallower than I put for philosophy, mostly because history is often learned indirectly through learning about other subjects (such as science, religion or philosophy). However, six months should be long enough to have a gist of the general history of most areas of the world as well as modest depth into a few key threads of history.

5. Two years on math and hard sciences.

I say two years not because these subjects are necessarily more important than philosophy or religion, but because they’re difficult enough that some minimal investment is necessary to learn anything interesting.

I’d probably focus more on math, since having a good grip of math underlies understanding almost all the other hard sciences. Perhaps a year to master calculus, geometry, statistics and discrete math. Another year spent to get a good foundation in the basics of physics, chemistry, biology and computer science.

6. One year devoted to art.

I’d spend a year split between studying the history of art and practicing creating art itself. Probably a month each spent learning the basics of sculpting, drawing and painting, then three months on a more specialized aspect of artistic development, pulled from whatever interests developed in the initial survey.

For art history, I’d spend time studying art from books, but also traveling to museums and galleries to see the art in person. This phase of the project could probably overlap with the third year of travel.

7. Six months on music.

I’d spend six months to learn a musical instrument. Learn to read musical notation and possibly the basics of composition. I think this could possibly be stretched into a year to encompass more instruments or getting deeper into composing, although that would probably involve scaling back on one of the other categories (perhaps art history).

8. Six months on meditation.

I’d allocate six months to be spent on an introspective journey. This would probably be spread throughout the ten years, although perhaps culminating in 1-3 months of dedicated time to some sort of meditative activity.

The goal here would be to more deeply understand yourself from experience, as opposed to from ideas and theory, as would be covered in the more academic sections on philosophy, religion and biology. I also believe that this pursuit would cultivate many of the characteristics you want such as temperance, discipline, patience and equanimity, which are often unrelated to knowledge.

9. Six months on economics and psychology.

I’m spending a lot less time on these subjects than I’ve devoted to others. In part because I feel that they are a lot less certain than the hard sciences, but also more theoretically constrained than philosophy. With hard sciences you can be more confident in the empirical results. With philosophy, you can be more open to the fact that they are speculative. However, I think there’s a lot of merit in learning the basic, relatively uncontested ideas in both fields.

10. Six months on practical skills.

In six months, I’d want to spend it learning the assortment of practical skills you’d want to be a self-sufficient, highly-functioning individual. Carpentry, metalwork, sewing, home repair, basic electrical work and plumbing, first-aid, simple car maintenance and others. The goal here would be to have a minimal competency in a bunch of occasionally useful simple skills, but also to create the confidence that one could easily learn more specialized aspects of these skills should the need arise.

Evaluating My Ten-Year Plan

In the space of ten years, perhaps from twenty to thirty (or perhaps as a retiree, from fifty-five to sixty-five), you could become decently versed in math, science, philosophy, religion, history, economics, psychology and art. You would know how to paint, sculpt, draw, play an instrument, fix a car, build a chair and write a computer program. You would speak at least three languages, although possibly more depending on how you allocated your travel time.

Even in the span of ten years, a lot would still be missing. There’s no anthropology. No literature or film. No architecture or athletics. However, the foundation would still be solid enough to build almost anything off of that in the future.

How Realistic Is This Plan?

This plan, as per my original conditions, is wildly optimistic. It assumes you can focus exclusively on self-education for a decade, without needing to work, support a family or be tied down to a physical location. It also assumes an unrealistic commitment to the higher ideals of self-education, with incredible commitment over a lengthy period of time.

However difficult, I’ve seen similarly lengthed self-education projects work to some extent. Benny Lewis spent around a decade traveling learning languages. Many in academia have spent a similar amount of time focused on a doctoral path that didn’t necessarily translate into job prospects.

What’s different about this ten-year plan isn’t that it’s impossible, but that it’s so thoroughly unconventional, few people would embrace it as an alternative to the more conformist paths available.

Despite these difficulties, some variant of this plan is how I see my own self-education unfolding, albeit with less long-term structure and certainly not a full-time commitment. I’ve already finished much of the travel requirement, and my exposures to many of the topics haven’t reached what I could do in the time suggested above, but they might reach that in time.

What Would Your Plan Be?

I’ve spelled out my hypothetical ten-year education, now I want to know about yours. Tell me what you would do if you had ten years to devote yourself to learn only the things you feel are important to your betterment as a human being.

What would you add that is missing in my list? What would you remove to make room for it? Where do you think I’ve spent too much time? Too little?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

  • Alexander

    I’d add some time to learn some social skills, such as basic etiquette, social norms, unspoken rules and other things that are expected to be known by any properly socialized person roughly by the time they reach legal age.

    In my personal opinion, the fact that these are expected to be known by
    everybody, but are seldom taught, only makes it even more important,
    because there is a surprising number of people to whom these things
    don’t come naturally, even in their native society.

    One could argue that these are already covered by philosophy, psychology and others (and we all should know them magically anyway), but I’m talking about the practical side of things here, and anyway, these can be quite important if you travel, increasingly so in countries with radically different cultures.

    It’s hard to make a time estimate on this, but I guess it shouldn’t take too long, like about one month for the foundation and then some additional time (two weeks?) per country visited. There are random values, though, and they seem to be both too long and too short depending on how you look at it.

  • Alexander

    Btw, it should be “These are random values”, not “There are…”, but I can’t edit.

  • Bjarke Tan

    Hi 🙂 do you have any tips on how to follow an intense schedule and still have time and energy to socialize(or to do other things)? Usually if i am burnt out i have little energy left to do anything
    At the moment my long term goal is to be world class at something(but it will probably take 20+ years)
    And i am trying to figure out how i can get there at the moment
    Kind regards 🙂

  • carlmilsted

    The whole idea of allocating x years to the study of anything bothers me. For doing big projects, focus is useful. For survey learning, I find that swapping subjects is the way to go. I like alternating between reading intensive courses like literature or history and thinking intensive courses like math and physics. Music and art provide a nice changeup from either. Art can be generalized to drafting, architecture, crafts, construction, etc. Think art as in “artisan” vs. fine arts.

    Trying to cram math into two years would be grueling or woefully incomplete, IMO.

    I detect synergy between travel and studies. I suspect learning modern Greek could be a launching pad for learning ancient Greek which has application to history, philosophy, and religion.

    I think you underestimate economics. Adam Smith was professor of moral philosophy. The praxeology of the Austrian School is an interesting instantiation of the abstract theory of Mind that Husserl believed could exist. An economic analysis of government itself (as in David Friedman’s “The Machinery of Freedom”) ties in well to history and political science.

  • Sam

    This is definitely one of my fantasies, and in general think my course of studies would be pretty similar.
    But I think that one big difference between British and American assumptions about education comes out here. We also think breadth is good, but that depth is key for real formation and personal change.
    I was lucky enough to study history at Oxford, and there the philosophy is that you are essentially apprenticed to a top academic to learn, not the basic facts and outlines of history merely, but the actual craft of being a historian (or whatever your subject is) also. So you learn to work from original sources, weigh arguments, think for yourself, and argue your conclusions. Most of us didn’t go on to be historians, and didn’t study it for economic advantage. But learning to really do one thing to a professional standard teaches you the skills and ability to then pick up and learn other disciplines much more swiftly and deeply.
    Failing to have any real specialism risks leaving you at the mercy of experts, relying on a textbook overview rather than learning directly for yourself. In the US I suppose this would need graduates level studies, and so need a longer education.
    While I also spent, and spend my own time learning philosophy, religion, anthropology, and so on, I really feel that three years of learning the skill and craft of history has shaped my skills and personality in a way that no general study has.

  • Sam

    CS Lewis’s essay, ‘or English syllabus’ is brilliant on this. What you need ultimately is to really pursue knowledge properly, not just for advantage of self – improvement, if you are to really be shaped by your studies.

  • The two topics that came immediately to my mind as I read this post are practical skills (carpentry, metalwork, etc. as you outlined plus bike maintenance), and social skills.

    Like an earlier commenter, I think a lot of us reach adulthood lacking some important social skills. Learning these in a formal group setting, maybe a class taught by a counsellor/psychologist/psychotherapist, would be great!

  • Robyn Hamilton

    This is what I was thinking too. I would design any program for myself with probably two things going at the same time — go to Russia and study Russian and music, etc., Italy and study Italian and art, etc.

    Though this goes along with what would want to learn — I would throw in some physical accomplishments, too. There’s only so many hours a week one can devote to doing a back handspring.

  • Ken

    Maybe use Heinlein as a guide:

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion,
    butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance
    accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give
    orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem,
    pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently,
    die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

    -Robert A. Heinlein

  • Deepti Km

    I thought about it. The main things I would add to my 10-year plan on top of yours would be some forms of sports and recreation (rock-climbing, skateboarding, kayaking, soccer), and some subject that explains how organizations and institutions work (is that management? Operations research? Shadowing pilots and retailers and senators for a week? I’d have to figure it out).

    I’d do the recreation skills because I find you have to get to some minimum threshold of familiarity before they become fun, so investing some focused time to get there will pay off (in enjoyment) in the long run. And the organization-stuff is mostly out of curiosity about how the rest of the world lives (analogous to travel – organizational cultures are just as varied), and also it’s great fodder for writing stories.

    To fit it all in 10 years, I guess I’d have to trim some of the philosophy, religion and travel. I’d also weight the curriculum more heavily toward hard sciences, art and practical skills, but that’s just based on personal tastes.

  • Scott Young

    Heinlein leans towards the practical skills component. I’m a bit more interested in theory than merely collecting a bunch of practical skills that are less relevant in today’s society, but I think his thoughts still stand.

  • Scott Young

    I’m not sure social skills are learnable in the same sense as the others I described. Maybe it’s just my experience, but I think social skills are best learned through some other learning activity–say learning to start a business or learning a language.

  • Scott Young

    I purposefully discounted specialization in my hypothetical, simply because the pressure to specialize in one thing is fairly overwhelming in a more realistic learning scenario. I wanted to know what would be covered if there was a weaker presumption of becoming an expert in a single domain.

    I’m agnostic to the idea that high levels of specialization are good beyond what they do for economic returns. My sense is that the best ideas and skills in most fields are those that are the most basic. Further learning involves diminishing returns. For instance, taking a general survey course in biology over six months will give you a higher concentration of good ideas about biology than doing a PhD.

    Of course, I’m willing to entertain exceptions!

  • Scott Young

    I should have written as much in the article, but my division of time allotment was for clarity of understanding how much total time would be invested. Obviously, there is no real need to force all of the learning into a specific time period.

    I think, with the exception of perhaps language immersion, most subject benefit from spacing over cramming.

  • Scott Young

    I think it takes practice. Keep in mind, everyone has different limits for different subjects. If you’re burning yourself out, you may need to step back and do something lighter.

  • Arnab

    for 6 years economics & psychology. for 2 years body fitness ( that will be through out the whole 10 yrs ) & 2 years in zazen

  • Anna Sarah

    Sounds like what I did during the last 17 years. I went abroad, played music, learned how to build a house, learned some philosophy and political science in online courses, did lots of art… looking back, I wouldn’t want to change a thing. The last thing I did: I fell in love with technology. I am supporting myself with my translation work while studying Electrical Engineering. If I didn’t have to work at all right now, I would do the same, just harder. I am truly blessed and privileged! 🙂

  • Heather LeBas

    This is a really fascinating topic, and the first thing that immediately came to mind was developing strong communication skills. I have been watching a lot of presentations by John Gottman about they key factors that make a relationship work. I’m sure you have heard of him before, he puts couples in a lab and measures their blood pressure/cortisol levels, records facial expressions, and tracks how long the couples stay together. He found that the expression of contempt is the greatest predictor of divorce and in his studies the receiver of contempt were more prone to illness.

    Developing habits of healthy intrapersonal/interpersonal communication would lead to some of the greatest payoffs over a lifetime. Your long term partner has a crucial influence on your overall mood and can impact for better or worse your drive to learn. After a frustrating day at work you can come home to someone who encourages you to keep going. It’s funny to me that this was the first thing I thought of because I keep telling myself “I’m too busy working for a relationship.”

    The other things that came to mind was meta-learning. I am very inspired by people like you and Tim Ferris who demonstrate and teach this brilliantly. I would love to use this to study neuroscience, social psychology, and statistics.

    Thank you for writing this. It really lifted my spirits today and made me think about what’s important to me. I am excited to think about this deeper and develop a more structured plan.

  • Fernando Belmonte Archetti

    I’d basically follow the trivium and quadrivium with modern adaptations. Most time would probably go towards philosophy and maths.

  • Ariana Pintor

    I’d study physics, astrophysics, computer science, philosophy, spirituality/religion, psychology and literature. This was a very nice exercise, I always thought I’d spread myself over but it came to me pretty clear what I would study, which is basically what I left behind in my studies due to economic/practical considerations. Mind you, I know that computer programming is a skill in high demand, but I never wanted to be tied down to a computer to work. Interestingly, I am a postdoc and do research in none of these areas of knowledge. Maybe I just didn’t include environmental science since I already do it all day? 🙂

  • Clarissa Zaruk

    Probably world history could overlap the travel years or precede them. For example, if you’re living in Germany, I’d find it fascinating to study about the second world war from the german perspective, then travel to France to hear the French view of the war followed by the Russian perspective of it. when visiting historic places you’ve read and studied about, you’re truly immersing in the experience of history of a certain population. That’s how I felt when visiting Greece and Italy…

    On my part, I would compose and practice meditation, perhaps go on month long retreats or live in a monastery for a year. I’d learn to build my own home, probably study the cello and do TedX talks

  • Peter

    This. To me this is the master skill. Communication gets you so far in so many fields, both professionally and not that this should be number one (though I think working on foreign language is a good way to learn communication skills without the crunch of having your first language).

    Second would be learning about diet, nutrition and fitness and the physical skills involved (training, sport/activity), maximizing sleep, learning to cook. So much of wellness and performance everything else is directly attributable to physical health so getting that right makes everything else on the list easier to do and also translates to better success.

  • Eng Wen

    I would learn to build stuff like Ironman.

  • Zai Eln

    I think I would learn how to take a car apart and put it back together, study higher maths, write matlab programs, and write music. And train in boxing and bmx street riding. I figure that would be the ten years. This is all personal preference and not at all meant to be a broad education overall

  • Nitin Puranik

    Scott,

    This article really lifted my spirits. The pursuit of polymathism (is that the right word?) really drives me. I believe I’m on track with this pursuit. I’m putting in the work consistently and passionately, although not exactly with a schedule in place. I’m just going to let the passage of time yield results. Excuse me while I indulge myself a little!

    As a software engineer, I’m beginning to see Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to be one of the skills that will be highly desirable in the near future. I recently completed the Coursera course on Machine Learning, worked through a book and am currently learning TensorFlow, a popular Machine Learning software stack. I’ve also been investing significant amount of time studying the Linux kernel internals.

    Hailing from a multi-lingual culture like India, I’m already conversant in 3 Indian languages apart from English. I’m currently working on my Spanish and have made decent progress with the language. The moment I turn on my car keys, the wonderful spanish podcasts from notesinspanish.com begin playing on the car media. This routine has been going on for 6 months now. My wife and I are planning to move to Spain and live for a year. I still need to investigate how easy/hard it is to find software jobs in Spain for an Indian national.

    Every evening after getting back home from work, I practice my guitar for an hour. I’ve been practising for about an year and now I can sing and play a handful of songs. Really proud of that.

    I’ve recently been picking up on some car maintenance skills. Every afternoon, I dedicate an hour for reading up on car maintenance and watching DIY videos. A couple hours on weekends are set aside for getting my hands dirty. I have worked through changing my car tires, brake pads, air and oil filters.

    These are the things I’ve got going on this year. The list of things that are yet to come is pretty long. Below is a listing of some items:
    – Hone my personal finance skills: Working through blogs like Money Mustache and J.L Collins.
    – Home maintenance and carpentry.
    – Physics and Electrical Engineering: Electromagnetism fascinates me to no end.
    – French: This will have to wait until my grip on Spanish is solid.
    – Distributed Systems
    – Python

    I’m full of hope that if I keep to my current discipline and consistency levels, I should be able to continue at the pace I’m going at. Not being on Facebook and Twitter, and having a crappy phone instead of a smartphone have also been key factors behind the productivity I’m generating.

    Thanks for this article!

  • Hunt Guo

    I am reading your book Learn More and Study Less in Chinese version. I appreciate it you can share your experience with me in this book. I am exercising some of tips given in the book. But Chinese version lacks some attachments.

  • Chris T

    I have a different approach that I believe is a better and more in-depth approach to understand humanity.

    I would spend much time in learning psychology. Because psychology is the base of human activities.It is a foundation to understand other things like culture, history, religion, economy, art, language. Without the foundation it is not useful to study other subject without in-depth understanding of psychology.

    Important question like:
    1. Human needs. Like sense of belonging, sense of safety, need for intimate relationship
    2. Human wants. Like why people like to buy things? Dress in a nice clothes?
    3. Why people suffer? Like why people feel angry, grief, shame, guilt, fear
    4. Why society is created, and how the society affect human
    5. Why human have so many thoughts and creativity? How human learn

    To acquire insights, I would:
    1. Read books, talk to experts.
    2. Participate in social work, try to comfort distressed people
    3. Interact with and teach children
    4. Do experiment, to see how attraction and relationship is formed
    5. Go see a psychologist to help me to understand myself.

  • Arnab

    it seems that u r actually living a life. u know how to build a house !!!!!!!!!! i feel so inferior .

  • Arnab

    On second thoughts I think I am too lazy to learn a single thing if I had even a thousand years.

  • Ruth Demitroff

    I’m 65 so I’ve had several 10 year learning plans both formal and informal. I returned to my birthplace after being away for decades so my life fits into the quest genre format. Maybe I was like Don Quixote having read too many books (or movies) and set out on a journey of illusions. Or perhaps I was like Pilgrim in Pilgrim’s Progress or pick any quest story of your choosing. At what point does a learning plan change its name to a bucket list? I’m a sister, the surviving spouse of an Anglican priest, a mother of 4, a grandmother of 8. I’ve developed an extensive online learning network and do a better than average job of maintaining friendships over the decades. I can list 14 communities that I considered home for at least 6 years – my birthplace, where I lived, learned and worked from 18 to 33 and then after my husband graduated and I never sold my time again, our first, second and third parishes which each had 2 churches in 2 villages and the last parish of 6 churches in 6 small communities. If I were to die tomorrow, I’d say “Been there, done that, have the t-shirt and the scars to prove it, no regrets, thanks for the memories, sing “What a Wonderful World” at my funeral. Every book I read, song I sing, baby I hold, stray kitten or dog that visits, course I take, friendship I make is a bonus, an extra blessing.

  • Mosbie Chiweza

    this is a good exercise. im still thinking!!!!

  • Fascinating. I echo a few others on this list of comments. I would have to increase my knowledge in human understanding. Of course, some of this will come through natural, social interactions, however, I would feel the pull to learn and test more than just natural interactions.

    I, being an art fanatic, would want to spend a large amount of time studying some of the greatest artists and their works in history. I wouldn’t limit it to just the well-known ones either. I would want to delve deep into its history and perhaps even communicate with some of the movers and shakers currently alive.

    Further to this, I would spend time learning about the human body. That is, I would put aside many, many months so that I may gain a better understanding of what it is and isn’t capable of doing, and how and why it reacts to certain things in certain way.

  • Karen Speight

    I think I would definitely spend some time on languages & culture, with Germany because I love it and Spanish because it is such a useful language being the most spoken one.
    I’d build on my existing psychology masters by studying behavioural insights, decision making, local culture and change management.
    The human body and our evolution would be a significant area with perhaps a healing skills like chiropractic. Then I would love to understand astrophysics and this would require some hard maths study too. Particle physics and Quantum mechanics.
    I would learn the trumpet and saxophone and study jazz in depth.

  • Ellen König

    Coming from a heavily specialized education ( I spent almost 10 years in uni studying Computer Science) and now trying to move into a more Psychology/Social Science direction, it seems to there is a subtle difference between thee educational goals of a generalist (like your education plan seems to be, Scott), and a specialist (which seems the direction that Sam prefers).
    Becoming a generalist exposes you to a lot of different ideas resulting in a broad horizon that allows you to connect to anyone on a basic level. Becoming a specialist on the other hand exposes you to less ideas, but more so than ideas, you develop a consistent and very unique outlook into the world, approaches to apply these ideas to novel situations and become part of a very coherent community of practice.
    To me, both have their value. I personally also lean a bit more towards the specialist approach, because I value having my perspective on the world challenged on a deep level and beoming part of an intellectual community. However, I also spend quite some time learning unrelated ideas. My ideal 10 year plan right now would probably be 6 years spent on a specialization in the social sciences, and 4 years distributed across different experiences in natural sciences, art and philosophy.

  • Vali Neagu

    I would:
    1. read one or two hours/day – half a year to one year
    2. travel for a week every month, except in winter. – about two years
    3. learn computer graphics(drawing, modelling, animation) – two years
    4. learn physics(mechanics), maths(statistics, geometry, linear algebra and calculus), CS, economics – five years

  • Anton_Rich

    A year learning Javascript with a group and a mentor.

  • Anton_Rich

    I am learning German. Do you want to coordinate?

  • Sevdenur

    Vow.. thats lovely. So Ruth what would you advise to the 21 year old me?

  • wizardhaha

    Bad answer, I would say. rather choose between the answers : an education a la grecque, a la Rousseau, a la Kant, a la Socrates, a la Aristotle (a la Alexander The Great (Aristotle was Alexander The Great’s tutor for about fourteen years)).
    Or choose your favorite educational system : American , French, Finnish, Norwegian, german, Italian, British, Polish, Swedish, Japanese, Chinese… What do you know about the differences ?
    Bad question in fact… Are you a girl ? Do you have toilets in your school ? Are you a boy ? What is your access to education in your country ? Is education rather public or private in your country ? What is the literacy rate of men and women in your country ? What is your gender ? What is your age ?
    I do not ask these questions to someone in particular, but I ask them just because they have to be asked.

  • Emily Fan

    How would you remember everything that was learn if you were only work on something for a certain time period. It looks like a lot to forget after you learn it. Or is it me being pessimistic?

  • WON

    To the writer of the blog
    Know the difference between white, grey and black literature.
    Perhaps this gives you a tip for studying ? Let me know by commenting.

  • Karen Speight

    That’s a very kind offer, however I don’t have time to take on this particular project at the moment – it’s something for the future for me. Hope you are getting on ok with it?

  • Tiger

    First, what is knowledge ? is it information ? You can’t proceed to ask yourself other questions if you don’t ask yourself that one first.

  • monster66

    I can tell you the things I am interested in : Strategic intelligence, finding information…
    you can check out http://www.unesco.org/webworld/wirerpt/wirenglish/chap22.pdf
    Article discusses what economic intelligence is.
    It discusses information as a lever in a context of the world economic balance of power.
    In fact, information is disputed by economic actors. They use information in complement of their strategy. it talks about the use of information by governments to establish their competitive strategies.
    The relatively same ideas can be found in the social and economic sciences where the human is considered as having potential, bringing money to himself and his family by working, and acquiring value by integration in the sociaty and the work he does.
    And I still think you can’t separate the disciplines like that because they are all linked to each other.

  • Anton_Rich

    Yeah. no problem. I move slowly but surely.

  • E. Breezy

    As a child, my dream was become a biologist and discover a new species in the rainforests or something. If I had ten years of no responsibility, I want to take the steps to become that biologist. I don’t really want to discover anything new, but instead I would love the chance to study this wonderful world we in.

  • Zlatni decaci

    I will finish medical school.

  • Johnathan Franck

    I would go through one of the university curriculums from the 19th century before mass market education took hold. There is an example here if you dig through the catalogue: http://www.archives.upenn.edu/histy/features/1800s/1852/curriculum.html

  • Noneya Biznazz

    I dare say that your plan is unnecessarily divided. Study all those things for ten years. Philosophy is so deep that you won’t even finish thinking about some conundrums in a year. Math too.

    While colleges don’t have it quite right, mixing subjects rather than solid chunk focusing is a lot easier to digest.

  • Scott Young

    I think this is the biggest confusion about my schedule. I delineated these subjects for clarity. Obviously many of them could be studied side-by-side.

AS SEEN IN