I’m working on a new book about ultralearning, the style of aggressive self-education in the MIT Challenge and Year Without English, and I’d like your help.
One of my goals in the book is to feature stories and examples of excellent self-directed learning. To do that, I’m not only hunting down contemporary examples of people taking on interesting learning challenges like my own, but also historical examples of famous autodidacts.
The best stories and examples tend to be the less well-known, which presents me with a tricky position—the best examples to fill the book are necessarily going to be those I’m going to have the hardest time finding out about!
As a result, I’d like to enlist your help in suggesting people I should research further. In particular, if you know any examples of:
- People who have engaged in learning challenges, or otherwise accomplished something impressive by virtue of being mostly self-taught.
- Historical autodidacts or people who had unique strategies for their own self-education.
Luckily my research has already brought me into contact with many of these people and I’ve waded through a dozen or more biographies and profiles already. However, with your help I’m hoping I might get introduced to some people who I wouldn’t have otherwise considered.
To save some time, here’s a few historical autodidacts/impressive learners I’ve already researched or plan on researching in more detail:
- Benjamin Franklin
- Albert Einstein
- Richard Feynman
- Daniel Dennett
- Vincent van Gogh
- Leonardo Da Vinci
- Thomas Edison
- Bobby Fischer
- Leonhard Euler
- Paul Erdos
- Daniel Everett
- Ibn Sina
- Elon Musk
- Steve Jobs
- Bill Gates
- Terrence Tao
- Jack Ma
- Wu Jian-Xiong
Given the skew of this existing list, if you can recommend any impressive women autodidacts or from non-Western countries, that would definitely be a bonus. My goal is to cast as wide a net as possible so I don’t end up circling the same familiar examples.
In addition to these historical examples, I’m also open to suggestions of contemporary people who have accomplished things through their own self-directed learning. I won’t provide a list of those I’ve reviewed already for fear of spoiling too much of the book, but if you have any suggestions for that too, please write it below in the comments!